"Eggplant is a star vegetable in Israel. When meat was scarce and expensive, eggplant was easily grown and used often. It is a main ingredient in many vegetarian recipes, from dips to soups and salads. Usually flame broiled, it is currently very fashionable to feature eggplant as roasted, stuffed, fried, or pureed, and its meaty texture and distinct flavor make it one of the most versatile Jewish vegetables. This lactose free recipe is my take on a Jewish Lasagna, a much lighter and healthier version of the traditional Italian dish."
2 medium eggplants
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons vegetable oil plus more for oiling baking sheets and dish
1 medium onion, diced
1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
2 cups cooked rice, preferably Basmati
4 ounces Cabot Muenster or Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar, grated (about 1 cup), plus more for top (optional)
1 (15-oz.) can petite diced tomatoes, drained
1 medium carrot, peeled and grated
⅓ cup grated spiced "firm baked" tofu*
⅓ cup crumbled kosher Italian tofu sausage, such as Tofurky*
Ground black pepper to taste
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PREHEAT oven to 400°F.
TRIM eggplant stem ends, then cut eggplants lengthwise into thin slices (there should be about 8 slices per eggplant). Generously sprinkle both sides of slices with salt and set aside.
HEAT oil in large skillet over medium-high heat; add onions and cook, stirring, until translucent; add garlic and cook until just beginning to color, 2 to 3 minutes longer.
STIR in rice, 1 cup cheddar, tomatoes, carrots, tofu and sausage, mixing thoroughly. Taste mixture and season with additional salt and pepper if needed. Set aside.
OIL lightly 2 large baking sheets. Blot moisture from eggplant slices with paper towels and arrange in single layer on baking sheets. Bake for about 10 minutes, turning over midway, or until soft and pliable.
REMOVE eggplant from oven and reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Lightly oil 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Place about 2 tablespoons of reserved filling on each eggplant slice and roll up; place rolls seam-side-down in baking dish, pushing any filling that falls out back in place.
BAKE for 15 to 20 minutes or until eggplant is tender. If desired, sprinkle with additional cheese and return to oven until melted, about 5 minutes longer.
*You can substitute plain "firm baked" tofu, adding 2 finely chopped sun dried tomatoes, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano to cheese mixture. *Instead of Italian tofu sausage you can use an additional 1/3 cup spiced firm baked tofu.