So when your dearly beloved tells you in one breath that these things are great because they 1) taste like pizza and 2) the parmesan stuff on top is super good, you do a happy dance and put these on the menu again for next week because 1) they are most definitely not pizza (it’s an eggplant) and 2) there is not a trace of cheese involved at all. Cha-ching!
I was happily oblivious to eggplant’s existence the entirety of my childhood and only knew of it as “the nasty stuff my grandmother used to make my dad eat” – or something along those lines. And then everyone likes to talk about how it’s bitter, how it tastes funny, yadda yadda yadda. I have since learned that eggplant handled properly (or even improperly most of the time) is freaking delicious and no child should ever be deprived of its existence. Such a hard life I lived!
But no really – I’m a huge fan. I recently made some pasta for you guys that was darn good, despite the ugly pictures (even though the Pinterest world seemed to think they are okay – funny how that happens). I’ve also immensely enjoyed it grilled, wrapped around grille veggies, and served simply over polenta. YUM.
But apparently, when you top it with some marinara sauce and nutritional yeast, it becomes pizza. Yep, pizza. And even though I laughed at AJ with my mouth full (because that’s what we attractive engaged gals do to impress our fiancés), he was totally right. It did taste like pizza. And the topping tasted like real-deal parma was involved. Woot!
When I first made these, the only thing available was 1.5 foot long Chinese eggplant. Totally not ideal, but they did the job. I recommend using the smaller Japanese eggplants that are usually about 6-8″ long. They are much easier to manipulate, and the flesh is more suitable for mashing. These are super delicious served over some rice and fresh spinach, although other grains will do. You can also make these gluten free by using gluten-free bread crumbs, although I haven’t personally tried this. If you do, let me know how it turns out!
If you make this and LOVE it, share it with your friends! Tag it #rootsfood on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. I love to see your creations!
Marinara Stuffed Roasted Eggplant
A super easy roasted eggplant dish that tastes like pizza, without all the calories! A vegan parmesan mixture piled on top of marinara sauce and stuffed into eggplant halves makes for an awesome meatless meal.
- Prep Time: 5 mins
- Cook Time: 45 mins
- Total Time: 50 minutes
- Yield: 4
- 4 Japanese eggplants (7-8″ long)
- ~1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup quartered cherry tomatoes
- 1 cup marinara sauce
- juice of 1/2 small lemon (about 1 1/2 Tbsp)
- 1 serrano pepper, chopped
- 1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1/3 cup bread crumbs, gluten free if necessary
- pinch salt
- Preheat oven to 400F. Cut the eggplants lengthwise in half, straight through the stem. Score the eggplants in a diamond pattern, as shown in the picture above.
- Place the eggplants on a baking pan and drizzle with olive oil. I used about a quarter cup, but the measurement doesn’t have to be exact. It soaks in a lot and very quickly, so don’t be shy. Bake for 30 minutes or so, then remove from the oven.
- While the eggplants bake, combine the marinara sauce, lemon juice, cherry tomatoes, chopped serrano pepper. Set aside.
- In another small-ish bowl, combine the finely chopped walnuts, the nutritional yeast, and the bread crumbs and salt.
- Gently smash the flesh in each eggplant half with the back of a fork. Spoon the marinara mixture over the eggplants, dividing it between all 8 halves. Top with a generous amount of the walnut mixture, also divided amongst the 8 halves.
- Return to the oven and bake for another 12 minutes, until the topping is a bit crunchy. Serve immediately, with some rice or another grain on the side.