I must be feeling fat……half way through winter and 2 vego meals published in as many days!   Portion control flies out the window with this humungous stack of veggie delights….  A  combination of sweet, crunchy, salty and earthy delights, smothered in a rich tomato sauce topped off with a delicious dollop of homemade pesto and served on a bed of quinoa make this a vegetarian meal not to be missed!

Prep: 30 mins   Cooking time: 30mins       $Low Budget

Serves 4

2 tbs of olive oil

8 x 1cm thick slices of eggplant

4 x 1cm thick slices of sweet potato

4 x 1cm thick slices of zucchini (slice diagonally to get nice large slices)

8 x 1cm thick slices of golden squash

4 x large portobello mushrooms

1 large red onion, sliced into 4 x 1cm thick slices  (leave them whole, don’t break the onion apart)

100gm of haloumi cheese, sliced into 8 thick slices

80gm of baby spinach leaves

For the Pesto:

1 bunch of basil, stems removed

2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped

1/2 cup of grated parmesan

1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil

A squeeze of lemon juice

Sea salt and cracked black pepper

For the Sauce:

Olive oil for frying

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 tsp of dried oregano

1/2 cup of dry white wine

1 x 700gm  jar of tomato passata

1/2 tsp of sugar

Sea salt and cracked black pepper

Quinoa to serve (cook quinoa as you would rice using absorption method…..1 cup quinoa to 11/2 cups of water.  Bring to boil reduce to simmer, cover and cook for 12 minutes. Turn off heat and allow to rest for at least 5 minutes)

Place the basil, garlic, parmesan, lemon juice and  half the olive oil in a food processor.  Season with salt and pepper and whiz until you have a nice paste adding the rest of the oil at the same time. Place in a tupperware container and set aside.

Heat a griddle pan or BBQ grill until nice and hot.  Place all the cut veggies (except the mushrooms) in a large bowl, season well and add the olive oil.  Toss well to combine and chargrill the veggies, in batches if need be, until nice and tender.   Cook the mushrooms on the grill as well until soft.  I find they don’t really need oil, they release their own beautiful juices as they cook.  Place the cooked veggies on a lined baking tray and keep warm in a low oven.

Toss the haloumi in a little oil as well and cook on the same grill for 1-2 minutes on each side or until you have the lovely charred marks. Place them on the same tray as the veg to keep warm.

To make the sauce, heat  a medium sized saucepan and add the olive oil and garlic.  Lightly fry for a minute or so until fragrant, add the herbs and white wine and cook for a further 2 minutes or until reduced by half.  Pour in the passata, season with sugar, salt and pepper and stir well to combine.  Simmer for 10 minutes.

To serve, divide the quinoa between four plates and top with a small handful of the baby spinach leaves.  Place a slice of eggplant followed by sweet potato, zucchini, squash, onion, mushroom, haloumi and top with another piece of eggplant.  Spoon over generous amounts of the tomato sauce and top with a large dollop of pesto.  If you have leftover sauce, allow it to cool and pour it into a ziplock bag.  Freeze for later use…..