Eggplant Polenta Torte with Smoked Tempeh and Roasted Garlic Diavolo Sauce

I love eggplant. I didn’t always love it. I used to find it bitter and rubbery, but now, thanks to my father-in-law, I know to sweat the eggplant first to remove the bitterness and make the eggplant nice and soft. The red sauce is my own invention; I first tasted something like it at a very non-vegan italian restaurant, and it took a few tries to realize that the key to the sauce was the roasted garlic. It seems like a lot of garlic, but when you roast it, the garlic gets sweeter and more mild than raw garlic.


  • 2 heads of garlic
  • olive oil
  • 2 cups polenta
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • 1-2 serrano chiles, diced
  • 2 cans diced tomatos
  • 2 cans tomato paste
  • oregano and basil to taste
  • 2 chinese eggplants OR 1 italian eggplant, sliced 1/4″ thick pieces
  • 1 pkg smoked tempeh (I use the “Fakin Bacon” Smoked Tempeh)
  • 1 yellow onion, finely diced

The Method:

1. Sweat the eggplant by sprinkling sea salt on slices and laying them to rest in a slightly tipped pan or plate. This removes the bitterness. Leave on for about 20-30 minutes, rinse and set aside.

2. Slice tops off garlic heads (do not peel them!), place in a baking dish and drizzle olive oil on them. Cover the baking dish with tin foil and braise at 350 degrees in the oven until the cloves pop out of the peel and turn a lovely golden hue. Remove cloves from the husk, shred and mash them with two forks in a dish, set aside.

3. Boil water with salt. Whisk in polenta slowly. Bring heat to low. Add oregano, about a tablespoon. Continue whisking for 5 minutes. Cook on low for 10-15 minutes until the polenta pulls away from the sides. Pour half the polenta into an 8 x 10″ pan, and half into your baking dish (8 x 10″ x 2-3″ tall). The polenta should be about 1/2 to 3/4″ thick. Set aside to cool.

4. Heat olive oil in skillet, add serranos and cook on high until they brown. Add tomatoes and tomato paste, mix well. Add basil, about a tablespoon and mix well. Add garlic mash, mix well, cook all for about 10 minutes on medium – low heat.

5. Saute onion until brown (in olive oil). Add tempeh, crumbled, and mix well. Cook for 5-10 minutes, set aside.

6. Layer some eggplant on the polenta in your primary baking dish (the deep one). On top of this, layer the tempeh, all of it. Spread about half the tomato sauce mixture on the tempeh/eggplant/polenta layers. Top this with the other layer of polenta (carefully), then layer the rest of the eggplant and sauce.

7. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil, then bake at 400 degrees in the oven for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake 10 more minutes. Enjoy!

6 Responses to “Eggplant Polenta Torte with Smoked Tempeh and Roasted Garlic Diavolo Sauce”

  1. In Step #2, did you mean to say “broil” instead of “braise”?

  2. Oh no, definitely not. The method is this: slice the top off the head of garlic, place it in a ceramic or heat-safe dish, and braise it (drizzle olive oil on it, cover it and let it sit in a 350 degree oven, occasionally pouring on more olive oil as needed, until the garlic is a rich carmel color and the cloves pop out). I would never recommend broiling the garlic, it would cook too fast and you’d end up with blackened unusable cloves.

  3. Another option for the garlic roasting is slice the top off, drizzle with oil and wrap it in tin foil. Shoot it in a 400 degree oven for 30-45 mins and its done.

  4. That’s exactly what I would recommend. I don’t do the wrapping in tin foil, but it still works like a charm. Thanks Kevin, and welcome!

  5. Were your herbs fresh or dried? I’m guessing fresh since a tablespoon sounds like a lot of dried basil but maybe it’s supposed to be very herby 🙂

  6. Could you add a print stylesheet to your template for this blog? I’ll even write it for you if you want.

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