I love eggplants! Chunky purple American eggplant, somewhat smaller confetti purple Italian eggplant, long and slender Chinese eggplant, golf-ball sized Indian eggplant, white round Thai eggplant….you name it, I love it! I like them prepared in any way – curries, roasted and added to salads or transformed to baba ganoush, layered in vegetarian lasagna, indulgingly breaded and fried, or simply layered on with other roasted vegetables as a “melt”! As you can see, I am somewhat obsessed with this vegetable and my love goes back to my childhood. My other favorite vegetable is bitter gourd or Chinese bitter melon. I will have to add a post on that as well!
I bought this beautiful Italian eggplant the other day and was debating which route to take with it. After bit of self contemplation, I settled for a “melt”. I had some fresh mozzarella and sweet red peppers sitting around and figured they would go well together. This recipe is so quick and easy to put together. You start with roasting the eggplant and red peppers. Then, you just layer them with sliced tomato and mozzarella and bake them till the cheese melts into a ooey gooey goodness. Just top it with a bit of prepared pesto and voila, you have yourself a delicious stack (or two) of cheesy, yummy veggie melt!
Roasted Veggie Melt with Mozzarella
1 medium sized Italian (or American) eggplant, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
2 tablespoons plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
2 beef steak tomatoes, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
1 medium sized sweet red pepper, core removed and quartered
Eight 1/8″ slices of fresh mozzarella
2 tablespoons prepared pesto
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Turn broiler on to “high”
2. Arrange eggplant slices and red pepper on a baking sheet sprayed with non stick cooking spray. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and turn to coat the other side as well.
3. Roast the vegetables for 4-6 minutes in the top rack of the oven till they turn golden. Turn over and roast the other side as well (another 4 – 6 minutes).
4. Remove the veggies from the oven. Turn oven to 375F.
5. Stack the vegetables on a greased baking tray in the order of eggplant, tomato and mozzarella, seasoning each layer with a light sprinkling of salt and pepper. Repeat the layer once more. Top with a piece of roasted red pepper. Secure the “deck” with a toothpick.
6. Bake for about 4-6 minutes till cheese melts and the “deck” is heated through.
7. Serve immediately with a light drizzle of pesto and olive oil.