September 17, 2012

Eggplant Pesto Stack

I can’t get enough of eggplant these days. Miso eggplant, eggplant with Thai basil, eggplant-parm sandwiches. It’s one of my favorite late summer vegetables and is totally worth the wait each year. I admit, I eat produce out of season more than I would like too but eggplant is something I refuse to eat unless I can get it at the farmer’s market. If you’ve written off eggplant, I urge you to try it again this summer while it is still in season.

I recently had a similar version of this dish at Michelangelos, one of our favorte restaurants in Sacramento. It is my go-to dish there and I wanted to recreate it at home. Their version uses cheese in the layers but I wanted to make it healthier and lower-fat, using ricotta cheese in place.

I have been making this for the last few weeks. Each time I do, I tweak it a bit more but it always comes out delicious.

Eggplant Pesto Stack

1 globe (Italian) Eggplant, sliced
1 recipe, herbed ricotta (see below)
1 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
3/4 cup Italian dressing
1/4 cup prepared pesto
2 cups marinara sauce, warmed

Tofu Ricotta:
1 pound firm tofu, pressed
1 tbsp.  lemon juice
2 tsp olive oil
1 clove garlic minced
1 tbsp. white miso
1/2 cup basil leaves, chopped
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
small handful chopped oregano , or 1 tsp dried oregano
salt, pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Slice the eggplant into 1/4″-1/2″ slices. Dip in Italian dressing and then press into the breadcrumbs. You want the slices of eggplant to be well covered in a thin layer of crumbs. Place on a baking sheet and continue to bread the rest of the eggplant. Bake for 15 minutes each side until cooked through and golden brown.

Prepare the tofu ricotta. Alternatively, for a non-vegan version, you could use slices of Mozzarella cheese or  your favorite cheese. In a food processor combine the ingredients for the tofu ricotta and pulse until everything is combined and mixture is smooth.

To prepare the stacks, place one piece of eggplant on a plate. Top with a spoonful of tofu mixture, and another slice of eggplant. Continue with tofu, eggplant, tofu and a final piece of eggplant. Cover with warmed marinara sauce and dollop pesto.

What restaurant meals have you recreated?

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Meet Alex Caspero

Alex Caspero is a Registered Dietitian, Plant-Based Chef and Yoga Instructor. She aims to cut through the nutrition noise by providing real-life, nourishing tips for body and mind. Learn more about Alex.


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    1. Avril
      October 27, 2012 AT 7:05 am

      Hi Alex
      Haven’t made this yet. Just wondering what italian dressing you used in this recipe. Thank you 🙂

      1. DK
        October 27, 2012 AT 12:32 pm

        Hi Avril,

        You can use any italian dressing, I don’t think the brand matters. I believe I used Annie’s Italian dressing.


    2. Avril
      September 18, 2012 AT 12:49 am

      It sounds lovely. I would love to try it but I couldn’t find the ingredients for the Marinara Sauce. Also the method for the Tofu Ricotta doesn’t seem to use all the ingredients in the list and adds white miso. I’m not sure I am following the recipe properly. 🙂

      1. DK
        September 18, 2012 AT 11:08 am

        Thank you! I really need to stop posting these so late at night 🙂 You are right, I updated the tofu ricotta so hopefully that makes more sense. I made the ricotta two different ways and forgot to take one of them out. Thanks for being my eyes! Any marinara sauce will work! I have been using jarred sauce on weeknights.
        (Yes family, if you are reading, I admit I used jarred sauce. Sorry!) Thanks for commenting Avril, Alex