Caprese Stuffed Roasted Eggplant is a showstopper of a main course, guaranteed to be loved by vegetarians and omnivores alike. After all, who can resist ripe tomatoes, flavorful pesto and melty mozzarella roasted in a hasselback-cut eggplant?
On many Sunday Supper tables around the world, including ours, the centerpiece of every holiday meal is something roasted, perhaps beef, chicken, pork or leg of lamb. The vegetables, gravy and bread rolls that accompany the meat are supporting actors, but that big oven-roasted turkey at Christmas time? He is the super star.
In vegetarian households some replace the meat with a nut roast or faux meat of some kind, perhaps made out of tofu or seitan. I am not a fan of those though and would rather make a lovely roasted vegetable ratatouille or eggplant Parmigiana. Or skip the showstopper all together and just make several vegetable and pasta dishes with a side salad. Hey, if you really need a centerpiece, how about some flowers?
Or you can try my wonderful Caprese Stuffed Roasted Eggplant. It’s more impressive with one big eggplant. In fact, I almost turned the words around and called it a Caprese Stuffed Eggplant Roast, but you can also use several smaller eggplants if that’s what you have available. If you do have one large eggplant, the trick is to roast it in a pan or dish that is just the right size so you can press it down to fit securely. That way, it won’t tip sideways as it bakes.
- 1 very large eggplant or 2 smaller ones
- 2 large beef tomatoes halved and sliced
- 4 3/4 oz or 135g mozzarella cheese not soft burrata but the pizza kind, sliced
- 3/4 cup or 190g pesto
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- Toasted pine nuts little basil leaves and fresh grated Parmesan
Preheat the oven to 350°F or 180°C.
Slice the eggplant almost all the way through, leaving the slices connected at the bottom. (The easiest way to do this is to place a chopstick or wooden spoon handle on either side of the eggplant. Cut through just until the knife hits the chopstick or spoon. The slices should be around 7-8mm thick.
You’ll have to hold the eggplant to support the uncut side, allowing the cuts to open a bit. Put a healthy teaspoon of pesto into each cut then stuff a tomato and mozzarella slice in after, which should push the pesto down into the cut and spread it around. This was awkward to photograph but here’s my best try.
Place the stuffed eggplant in a snug ovenproof baking dish greased with a little olive oil. Push it down so it almost lays flat. It will slump completely flat as it roasts.
Drizzle on a little olive oil and roast in your preheated over for about an hour or until the eggplant is cooked through and nicely browned.
To serve, cut through the bottom of the slices, making sure that each slice has some cheese and tomato on top as you lay them on the dinner plates.
Sprinkle with pine nuts, basil and Parmesan, if desired.
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