A glorified baked eggplant filled with spinach pesto and halloumi cheese over tomato sauce! Such a delicious way to serve up veggies.
- 1 large eggplant
- 2 cups Marinara Sauce (pasta sauce)
- 9 ounces (260 g) halloumi cheese
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Crushed red pepper flakes, optional
For the Spinach Pesto:
- 2 cups fresh spinach leaves
- 1 cup lemon basil leaves
- 1 garlic clove
- ¼ cup walnuts
- ½ cup shredded parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 400 °F, 200 °C.
- Prepare the Pesto:
- 1. Pulse the garlic clove in the food processor until finely minced.
- 2. Add the spinach, herbs, walnuts, and cheese and pulse until finely chopped.
- 3. Stream in the olive oil while pulsing until smooth.
- 4. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- 5. You will only use only half of the pesto for this recipe. Store the remaining pesto in a jar in the refrigerator up to 1 week.
- Spread the pasta sauce in a 10-inch round or square baking pan.
- Place the eggplant between the handles of 2 wooden spoons.
- Make crosswise cuts about 1/3 of an inch apart on the eggplant, stopping before you hit the bottom. The 2 wooden spoons will help with this. The eggplant should stay together.
- Season in between the slits with salt.
- Slice the halloumi cheese into thin slices.
- Fill the eggplant cuts with halloumi slices and pesto. About ½ teaspoon of pesto in each slit.
- Place the eggplant in the baking pan on top of the sauce. If the eggplant does not fit, cut the stem end off.
- Drizzle 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil over the eggplant and season lightly with salt and pepper.
- Cover with parchment paper and then with foil. Bake for 1 hour covered.
- Remove parchment paper and foil and return the baking pan to the oven, raise the oven’s temperature to 475 °F, 250 °C and bake 15 more minutes.
- Allow to rest at room temperature 15-20 minutes then serve! Enjoy.