Place a rack in the center of the oven and Preheat to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Arrange the eggplant slices evenly on the baking sheets, and sprinkle lightly with sea salt and black pepper. Roast for 30 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, or until browned and very soft, flipping halfway through cooking.
While the eggplant is roasting, make your tomato sauce. (If using jarred sauce, heat it in a pan first, OR increase the final baking time as needed, see notes.)
Next, make the vegan Parmesan in a food processor.
In a small bowl, make the topping by tossing together the bread crumbs, vegan Parmesan and Italian seasonings.
When the eggplant is cooked, remove it from the oven and reduce the heat to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Ladle about ¾ cup of the hot tomato sauce into a 9" x 9" square baking dish, coating the entire bottom with thin layer of sauce.
Arrange ½ of the eggplant on top of the sauce in the baking dish. Cover the eggplant with ½ the remaining sauce, then add another layer of eggplant. Cover the eggplant with the rest of the sauce.
Sprinkle the topping evenly over the top of the dish. Add a little more Italian seasonings, if desired.
Cover with foil and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until hot and bubbly throughout.
Optional: for a crispy, golden brown topping, broil under low heat for a few minutes, being careful not to burn the topping.
Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and serve with almond ricotta, if desired.
Eggplant. I like to place one sliced eggplant on each baking sheet. That way, when I layer the dish, I'll have approximately equal amounts of eggplant ready for each layer. Plus, the pieces just fit together well this way, with some larger and some smaller slices in each layer.
Bread Crumbs. Some brands of store bought bread crumbs contain small amounts of oil or cane sugar. If you can't find compliant brand, you can make your own by toasting bread slices in the oven and pulsing in a food processor.
Almond Ricotta. I love serving this dish with a dollop of almond ricotta on the side. But you can also layer the almond ricotta between the layers of eggplant and bake it with the casserole if you like. Just increase the cooking time a bit if necessary to heat everything through.
Nut-free Vegan Parmesan. I make my vegan Parmesan with cashews or walnuts. But you can substitute pepita seeds or sunflower seeds for a nut-free version.
Tomato Sauce. The baking time for this recipe assumes everything goes into the baking dish already warm to hot. If you don't want to pre-heat your jarred sauce, just increase the cooking time so everything heats through.