Roast eggplant with muhammara and haloumi

Baked eggplant layered with haloumi and  muhammara.
Baked eggplant layered with haloumi and muhammara. Photo: William Meppem
Dietary
Vegetarian

Perfect for a simple elegant vegetarian main dish, this is based on a dish I created for London Lebanese restaurant Comptoir Libanais, layering muhammara (red capsicum and walnut paste) and finely grated haloumi cheese on stacks of grilled eggplant. Cutting the eggplant lengthways with the stalk cap intact means you can reassemble it to look impressive when it's served. These can be assembled a day in advance and baked straight from the fridge when needed.

Ingredients

100g walnuts

1 tsp chilli powder

1 tsp ground cumin

300g roasted red capsicum, seeded and skinned

juice ½ lemon

salt to taste

2 large eggplant

olive oil

100g haloumi, grated finely

Method

1. To make the muhammara, grind the walnuts coarsely in the food processor. Add the spices, capsicum and lemon juice, and puree until evenly combined.

2. Cut the eggplant lengthways into 5 to 6 slices, leaving the stalk on the middle slice. Oil each slice lightly then grill until just starting to char on each side. Place the base strip of each eggplant on a tray, top with a thin layer of muhammara and some grated haloumi. Place the next slice on top of the first and repeat the topping with muhammara and grated haloumi. Continue with each slice until the eggplant is reassembled and layered.

3. To serve, bake at 180C fan for about 25 minutes until golden and piping hot and the haloumi has begun to melt.