Meatless Monday: Baked Pesto Eggplant

Lately, my roommate and I have been on a bit of a pesto-kick. I used to be a purist, always making my own fresh pesto with herbs that I either grew or bought, but then I was introduced to the most magical grocery store: Wegmans. Pesto is relatively inexpensive at their self-serve Mediterranean Olive Bar (you pay by weight, and honestly it’s probably about the same price as if you bought all of the ingredients yourself). And they do a really good job with it because it’s always fresh!

Today's Creation Going Into the Oven

Anyway, in the theme of trying to incorporate pesto into everything I eat, I decided to whip up some baked eggplant with pesto. In this recipe, the pesto takes the role of binding the breadcrumbs to the eggplant, instead of using a more typical egg method (this means the recipe can be vegan, if your breadcrumbs and pesto don’t have cheese in them! But I love cheese, so that won’t be happening in my kitchen anytime soon).

IMG_2246

It makes a great meal on its own, with sides, or you can put it on a sandwich/salad/really whatever you want! It’s super simple- preparation takes only a few minutes, and then you just leave it in the oven for a while. You can also really substitute whatever vegetable you want for the eggplant, if eggplant isn’t your thing!

For my sandwich, I spread a bit of pesto on the bread (has anyone looked into the ingredients in pesto to find out whether they are actually addictive?), added some baby spinach leaves and sliced grape tomatoes, and promptly inhaled the whole thing. The eggplant makes it pretty “meaty,” especially if you use a few slices or if you cut it thicker, so you won’t even remember that you’re eating a vegetarian meal!

Ingredients:

1 Medium Sized Eggplant

~1c breadcrumbs

~1/2-1c pesto

Cooking Oil Spray

IMG_2248

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350.
  • Slice your eggplant into even-thickness medallions or elongated cutlets. I’m really bad at making my slices even, but it really does come out better if they’re even so that you don’t have over/undercooked pieces!
  • Lay the eggplant pieces in one layer on a lightly greased cookie sheet.
  • Spread a thin layer of pesto over each piece of eggplant, then spoon a light layer of breadcrumbs over the pesto.
  • Spray the breadcrumbs lightly with cooking oil.
  • Bake for 45 minutes or until breadcrumbs are golden and eggplant is cooked through. It may take less time if you cut your eggplant really thin!
  • Remove from oven, and enjoy!
Even obligate carnivores think this vegetarian recipe is great! However, I don’t recommend sharing with your cat because the excessive garlic in pesto can cause hemolytic anemia (destruction of red blood cells) in cats. Plus, this recipe is too delicious for sharing!

Even obligate carnivores think this vegetarian recipe is great! However, I don’t recommend sharing with your cat because the excessive garlic in pesto can cause hemolytic anemia (destruction of red blood cells) in cats. Plus, this recipe is too delicious for sharing!

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