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This year, I was tasked with cooking up a vegan dinner spread for my boyfriend’s omnivore family and this Tofu Stuffed Eggplant w/ Lentil Coconut Sauce was a fave from the menu! I shared about it on TikTok and received so many requests for a recipe video that I decided I’d write down the full recipe too. It is a recipe originally by renowned chef Yotam Ottolenghi, however his recipe calls for paneer. It’s a meal my boyfriend’s family enjoys often, but with a few modifications and of course, can be made with tofu in place of paneer to make it vegan friendly too. You can find the original recipe on The Guardian website, and explore his other recipes in his cookbooks.
This Tofu Stuffed Eggplant w/ Lentil Coconut Sauce is a hearty and nourishing meal. You prepare thinly sliced eggplant and spinach to wrap around extra firm tofu, and it’s baked in a red lentil and coconut curry sauce. The sauce is flavourful a little bit spicy, and to finish the dish, it is served with a squeeze of fresh lime juice and fresh herbs to garnish. The ingredient list may look a little intimidating at first, but it’s primarily just a variety of spices, so don’t be alarmed!
The recipe does require some hands on time, but can be easily broken up into 3 steps. 1. Prepare the eggplant by baking in the oven, 2. Prepare the lentil coconut sauce and 3. Wrap tofu and pop into the oven. It can be a lengthy process, but the end result is absolutely worth it! Also, it’s worth mentioning that this is one of the dishes that makes for great leftovers and tastes even better the next day. That is, if you have any leftovers, of course.
If you’d like to streamline the process, Ottolenghi recommends preparing the lentil coconut sauce and the eggplant in advance so that you can roll and bake to enjoy when ready. I’ll share my process in the recipe card below, along with the modifications I made to the recipe. I’ll also share some modifications you can make if you’re unable to find some of the ingredients.
This dish is vegan, gluten free, refined sugar free and can be made oil free* as well.
What’s in this Tofu Stuffed Eggplant w/ Lentil Coconut Sauce?
Well the recipe name gives away quite a bit 😉 but we’re using:
Tofu → be sure to use extra firm tofu. We’re using this as a vegan alternative to paneer, per Ottolenghi’s original recipe. Give it a quick press with a kitchen towel or paper towel, but no need to press for too long.
Eggplant → I opted for a mix of graffiti eggplant and Italian eggplant. I recommend using an eggplant roughly 6-8″ in length, with the girth of a soda can for easiest rolling.
Spinach → preferably wild spinach, with larger leaves. This makes it easier to roll, however if baby spinach is all you have, you can use a handful of pieces and layer them together.
Red chili → is key for a little bit of spice and kick. I use a small fresh chili pepper the size of my index finger, but you can add more or less as desired.
Red lentils → are a key sauce ingredient that help to thicken. The recipe calls for a small amount, because we’re aiming for a looser sauce versus a thick lentil curry.
Coconut milk → to add richness to the sauce. The original recipe calls for coconut milk as is, and of course, it’s a great dairy free milk to use when cooking vegan!
Fresh limes → we’ll use both the peel and the fresh juice to garnish.
Flavour builders → red onion, shallot, ginger and garlic.
Plus salt and pepper to season, and neutral oil of choice as needed.
Secrets to success
Most importantly, please be sure to use an extra firm tofu, or high protein tofu. You want to work with something that will hold together and not fall apart. Gently pat excess water out by wrapping in a kitchen towel and lightly pressing, but don’t worry too much about pressing out all of the water.
I recommend looking for an Indian or Middle Eastern specialty grocery store near you if you’re able to find one, as you’ll be able to source a lot of the spices and herbs in one place. Fresh curry leaves for example, can be tricky to find, so if you’re unable to find them you can exclude them and use a heavy hand with your curry powder instead. I do recommend using them if you can find them, however! Similarly, if you can’t find whole mustard seeds, you can opt to use ground mustard seed instead.
Although you can make this Tofu Stuffed Eggplant w/ Lentil Coconut Sauce oil free, I highly recommend using a touch of oil when baking your eggplant. This is an important step to make rolling easier (it’s near impossible to do when the eggplant is raw and firm), and without oil, it’s easy to burn your eggplant in the oven. The result will be something more like an eggplant chip if you exclude the oil. Alternatively, you can use a grill to cook down eggplant first, and you may then be able to omit the oil.
If you try this recipe out, tag me on Instagram@veggiekinsso I can see your delicious re-creations and feature them! As always, I love when you share your reviews in the comments below, and if you make any fun substitutions, let me know how it worked out below too.
A hearty and nourishing dish to impress. This Tofu Stuffed Eggplant with Lentil Coconut Sauce is vegan, gluten free and refined sugar free with an oil free option.
3 large eggplants, cut lengthwise into 1/4” slices
1/2 red onion, finely minced
2 shallots, finely minced
5 cloves garlic, finely minced
1” piece of ginger, peeled and minced
1 red chili, index finger sized, seeds removed and finely diced
15–20 fresh curry leaves (about 2 stems)
1 tsp black or brown mustard seeds
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
2 tsp curry powder (increase to taste if excluding curry leaves)
2 tbsp tomato paste
3 strips lime peel (roughly 1/3 of a small lime), and juice of 1 lime
1/2 cup red lentils
1 can full fat coconut milk (about 15oz)
2 1/2 cups water (roughly 1 1/2 cans if you’d like to use your coconut milk can to measure)
1–2 cups large spinach leaves
1 1/2 blocks extra firm tofu (roughly 20 oz)
salt and pepper to taste
fresh coriander to garnish
Preheat oven to 425F while you prepare your eggplant. Thinly slice, and lay out on a lined baking sheet, lightly spraying or brushing with neutral oil of choice. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and pepper, flip and repeat on the other side. Bake for about 15-20 minutes until eggplant is tender. Remove from the oven and set aside. If preferred, you can grill slices, or cook in a grill press instead.
Prepare your lentil coconut curry sauce
Sauté red onion with oil or water until translucent and fragrant. Add shallots and garlic and sauté for another few minutes. Next add ginger, chili and curry leaves and cook for another few minutes, stirring frequently.
Next add tomato pace, spices, lime peel and lentils. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
Add coconut milk and water and bring the mixture to a slow bubble. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring once in a while, until sauce has thickened. Season with salt and pepper to taste and remove from heat.
Transfer your lentil coconut sauce into an 8×10 baking dish.
Wrap tofu in a kitchen linen or paper towel and gently pat to remove excess moisture. Slice tofu into 1 inch rectangular pieces.
To assemble, take one slice of eggplant, lay spinach on top, a piece or two of tofu and then tightly roll. Place the roll into the sauce, seam side down and repeat.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, until eggplant is golden brown and sauce is bubbling.
To serve, garnish with fresh lime juice and a sprinkle of salt and pepper to taste.
This recipe was adapted from Ottolenghi’s Paneer-stuffed aubergine in red lentil and coconut sauce recipe originally published by The Guardian. I modified the recipe by substituting paneer, including an alternative eggplant cooking method and adding a few ingredients.
Keywords: lentil, tofu, high protein, eggplant, holiday, main dishes, baking, dinner, meal prep, entertaining