This recipe is testament to the fact that not all vegan and vegetarian food needs to taste healthy! The garlicky baked eggplant, and rich, oily pesto within are a sumptuous combination. The gooey inside is balanced with a crunchy, golden panko crust and the hint of lemon in the pesto, as well as the acidity of the marinara sauce, balances everything out very nicely indeed. They can almost be served as party food, but prepare to get a little messy. Otherwise just prepare a tray and keep it all to yourself.

Ingredients

  • 2 eggplants
  • ⅓ cup oil rice bran or other neutral cooking oil
  • 1 garlic clove zested
  • ⅓ cup fresh oregano roughly chopped
  • 4 pinch sea salt flakes
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil for marinara sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves zested, for marinara sauce
  • 1 400g tin chopped tomatoes for marinara sauce
  • ½ tsp salt for marinara sauce
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste for marinara sauce
  • ¼ cup fresh oregano finely chopped, for marinara sauce
  • ¼ cup fresh basil chopped, for marinara sauce
  • 1 cup Spinach Basil Pesto
  • toothpicks
  • panko crumbs approx. 1–2 cups

Instructions

  1. 1 Preheat oven to 200°C, bake. Slice the eggplants lengthways into 5mm thick strips and place on an oven tray. Combine the oil and garlic in a ramekin and brush over the eggplant, flipping each piece to brush both sides. Scatter over the chopped oregano and a few pinches of sea salt flakes, then bake in the oven for 12 minutes. Be mindful that some of the pieces may burn if sliced too thinly.
  2. 2 Add the olive oil for the marinara sauce to a medium saucepan over a medium heat. Add the garlic and just when it starts to sizzle, add the tin of chopped tomatoes, the salt, tomato paste and herbs. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes stirring occasionally. Cover and set aside.
  3. 3 Remove the eggplant from oven and allow to cool for five minutes. Increase the oven temperature to 220°C. Scoop a generous spoonful of Spinach Basil Pesto onto each slice of eggplant, spreading to cover it evenly. Carefully roll up the eggplant slices and secure with a toothpick. Repeat until all are done.
  4. 4 Line another oven tray with baking paper. Next, sprinkle out about a cup or two of panko crumbs onto a dinner plate. One at a time, place an eggplant roll-up onto the crumbs and pat the crumbs onto the outside, then transfer to the baking paper lined oven tray. Resist the temptation to try and roll the eggplant in the crumbs, you'll have a better result if you carefully pat them on. (Excess panko crumbs can be saved for later use.) Bake for 10–12 minutes, or until just starting to turn golden. Serve hot with the marinara sauce.