1 cup raw cashews, soaked in water 4 to 8 hours and drained
¼ cup chopped onion (about ½ small onion)
2 garlic cloves
¼ cup unflavored soy or almond milk
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon maple syrup
½ pound extra firm tofu, drained
1 cup torn fresh basil leaves
½ cup coarsely chopped Kalamata olives
Salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
Prepare the eggplant:
Preheat oven to 400°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Cut the top off of the eggplant, and then cut the rest lengthwise into ¼-inch thick slices–you want the slices as long and wide as possible. Lightly brush both sides of each slice with oil, and then arrange them in a single layer on the prepared baking sheets. Bake until the slices are pliable and have just begun to brown, about 12 minutes. Remove the baking sheets from the oven and transfer them to a cooling rack.
While the eggplant bakes, coat the bottom of a medium saucepan with olive oil, and place it over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion. Sauté until the onion is soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté about 1 minute more, until fragrant. Add tomato the puree, tomato paste, harissa, and maple syrup.
Bring the sauce to a simmer, then lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes, just until the sauce has thickened up a bit. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Make the vegan ricotta filling:
Place cashews, onion, garlic, milk, lemon juice and maple syrup into the bowl of a food processor fitted with an S-blade. Process until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides of bowl as needed. Add the tofu and pulse until the mixture takes on a chunky, ricotta-like texture. Add the basil and Kalamata olives and pulse again, just until they’re evenly incorporated into the mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Make the vegan eggplant involtini:
Pour the sauce into the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish, reserving about 1 cup for serving. Place an eggplant slab on a clean work surface, extending away from you, with the wider end closest to you. Spoon 2 to 3 tablespoons of vegan ricotta filling onto the eggplant slab, about a half inch from the end closest to you, then sprinkle the filling with about a teaspoon of panko breadcrumbs. Roll the end of the eggplant slab over the filings, then away from you. Place the eggplant roll into your baking dish, seam side down. Repeat until all the eggplant and fillings are used.
Place the baking dish into the oven (which should still be at 400°F) and bake for about 20 minutes, until the sauce is bubbly. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for a few minutes before serving.
Top with the reserved sauce and divide onto plates, then serve.