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February 27, 2013

Roasted Eggplant and Spicy Italian Veggie Burger Stacks

  • The Spicy Italian Qrunch burger joins forces with eggplant in these delicious veggie stacks. Gail Berrigan/The HSUS

  • Qrunch burgers contain quinoa and other organic, gluten-free, non-GMO ingredients—and lots of taste and texture. Qrunch Foods

Serves 4

1 package of 4 Qrunch Burgers—or another of your favorite veggie burgers—cooked according to package directions

4 large red onions
1 medium eggplant (aubergine)
4 large (or 8 medium) Roma tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 cup (115ml) olive or grapeseed oil


4 cloves garlic
1/2 cup (115ml) good olive oil
3/4 cup (170g) lightly roasted pine nuts, plus one tablespoon for garnish
2 cups (2 bunches) basil leaves, reserving four small leaves for garnish
3/4 cup (170g) good-quality green olives, such as Cerignola, pitted
1 scant tablespoon capers
Salt to taste

To prepare the vegetables: Preheat the oven to 350 F (176 C). Slice the onions and eggplant into 1/4-inch slices. Brush both sides with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Place eggplant and onion slices on a baking sheet and roast them in the oven, covered with aluminum foil, for 25 minutes. Uncover and roast for another 15 minutes. They should be slightly caramelized and soft. Remove from the oven and reserve for assembly.

Preheat a 10-inch (25cm) cast-iron pan on the stove over medium-high heat. Cut the tomatoes in half lengthwise. Cut out the hard stem base at the end. Lightly salt the tomato halves.

Pour 2 tablespoons of oil into the pan and, using tongs, place the tomatoes cut-side down into the hot oil. Because the oil can spatter, cover the pan with a spatter guard or cover half the pan with a pot lid to minimize the risk of getting burned.

Cook the tomatoes, without moving them, over medium-high heat for 6 to 8 minutes so that they are heavily caramelized.

Turn off the heat. With tongs, turn over the tomatoes and sprinkle them lightly with the dried thyme. Using an oven mitt, transfer the pan to the oven.

Roast for another 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow them to cool down a bit. Remove the skin from the tomatoes.

To prepare the pesto: Emulsify the garlic cloves and the olive oil in a food processor, fitted with an "S" blade (about 10 seconds). Add the pine nuts and process for another 10 seconds.

Remove the cover and scrape down the garlic-oil-pine-nut mixture. Add the basil, olives, and capers. Replace the cover and process until the mixture is smooth (about 15 seconds). Add salt to taste.

To assemble: Spread one tablespoon of pesto on each of the cooked burgers. Spread 1/8 teaspoon of pesto onto each slice of roasted eggplant and onion. Next, top each burger with a slice of eggplant (pesto side up), followed by an onion and then one tomato (caramelized side up).

Repeat the layers, finishing with a tomato. Garnish each stack with a few reserved pine nuts and a basil sprig.


  • Arugula (rocket) can be substituted for the basil in the pesto.
  • You can prepare and assemble the vegetables a day ahead and cook the burgers immediately before serving.
  • If you have a 3-inch ring mold, you can layer the vegetables in the mold and press down to create a perfect cylinder to be transferred atop the burger.
  • Make a meal of these veggie stacks with the addition of this "Qrunchy" Caesar salad.

Recipe courtesy of Katherine Newell Smith.


All figures are per serving (assumes 4 servings) with use of Qrunch burgers. They may vary with use of other veggie burgers.

Calories: 927
Fat: 81 g
Carbs: 43 g
Fiber: 12 g
Protein: 9 g
Sodium: 734 mg