Vegan chef Will Edmond has been cooking his whole life. Growing up in east Texas, Will learned the ins and outs of southern cooking from his mom and grandma, which he now translates into vegan recipes. Over on his Instagram and TikTok (@willedmond), the content creator shares tutorials and tricks for his mouth-watering, plant-based southern American concoctions — all with a healthy dose of travel tips to transport your taste buds as well.
How does your heritage or culture influence your home cooking?
Growing up in the south (in east Texas) and cooking with my grandma and mom is always a memory I won’t forget. We love for our food to be full of flavor and we want everyone to come back for more. For us, home cooking is part of our life because we didn’t have all the fancy restaurants and diners growing up.
Does the dish you’re sharing today have a story behind it?
My grandma loves eggplant parm. She’s been asking me for the last year to make her favorite dish and this one made her smile!
How would you describe your relationship to home cooking?
Everything is better with cast iron because it holds heat better than most skillets. And I love how heavy the cast iron Always Pan is. It’s definitely my favorite skillet now! I love it!
What do you like about cooking with cast iron?
The weight, the color, and I’m glad I can use it to make everything!
Tell us about a spice that made you feel connected to your heritage.
A spice that we use a lot here in the country is paprika. It adds a wonderful flavor to most dishes.
If you could only cook (and then eat!) one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
Fried oyster mushrooms because they taste just like chicken!
What was the first thing you learned to cook?
I first learned how to make homemade biscuits and pies from my grandma.
Plant Daddy's Vegan Eggplant Parmesean
3 cups organic marinara sauce
2 tbsp. vegan butter
1/4 cup onion
1 tbsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. organic sugar
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1 tbsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1 cup vegan parmesan cheese
1 cup vegan mozzarella
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup Japanese panko crumbs
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1//2 tsp. sea salt
1 cup vegan egg substitute
Begin by removing the steam from your eggplant and thinly cut into 1/4 inch slices. The thinner your eggplant slices are, the better they’ll cook and taste.
Next, arrange your eggplants on a strainer and salt them on both sides by adding a bowl beneath the strainer. This will allow your eggplant to “sweat” and the remaining water will drip into the bowl. Pat firmly with paper towels. This process will take 15 – 20 minutes.
Put your cast iron Always Pan on medium heat. Add melted butter and onions, then cook for 2 – 3 minutes. Immediately add garlic until the fragrance begins to be released. Next, add smoked paprika, sea salt, oregano, and dried basil to your melted butter mixture.
Pour your marinara sauce into the butter mixture and cook for 8 – 10 minutes until the sauce begins to bubble. Remove from heat and set it to the side.
For your batter, combine flour, panko crumbs, dried basil, and sea salt. In a separate bowl, add your vegan egg substitute mixture for dredging. Put your eggplant into the egg substitute and then into your dry batter mix.
In your cast iron Always Pan, heat vegetable oil and cook breaded eggplant for 2 – 3 minutes on each side until golden brown. Place your cooked eggplant on a wire rack.
Preheat your oven to 375°F. In your cast iron Always Pan, add a small amount of marinara sauce and then layer your eggplants. Then add vegan parmesan and mozzarella cheeses and a spoonful of marinara to each slice. Add some fresh basil to the top before baking.
Bake at 375°F for 25 minutes uncovered until the cheese is melted, then remove from heat. Top with remaining fresh basil and serve immediately!