Roasted eggplant and tomato veggie bowl with crispy paneer

Roasted eggplant and tomato veggie bowl with crispy paneer

Eggplant is an underrated vegetable, at least in America. During the warmer months, I like to load up on eggplant recipes. My favorite way to eat eggplant is by roasting it. The heat from the oven helps char and soften the flesh of the eggplant, giving it a meaty quality. It’s one of the main components in my roasted eggplant and tomato veggie bowl with crispy paneer. I make this dish whenever I want to eat a lot of vegetables throughout the week while feeling full and satisfied. This recipe has fiber and protein, and it is also low in carbohydrates and calories. It’s a great meal to fix up if you’re watching your refined sugar intake, or want to eat a more plant-forward diet. It’s also easy to put together. Let’s start cooking. 

About the ingredients

Eggplant: You can use either Italian or Japanese eggplant for this recipe. I use Italian eggplant because it’s bigger and more readily available at grocery stores. 

Tomatoes: Cherry tomatoes are good for this recipe because they have a sturdy structure when roasting in the oven. If you don’t have cherry tomatoes, you can also use grape tomatoes or Roma tomatoes.

Paneer or tofu: If you’re looking to have something cheesy with this roasted vegetable bowl, I suggest using paneer or halloumi. But if you want to keep this vegan, use tofu. Paneer is also harder to find in grocery stores, so if you need to use tofu, it will be just as good. The cooking method for tofu is very similar to paneer for this recipe. 

Hummus: When assembling this bowl, I layer a thick dollop of hummus at the bottom and then pile on my roasted vegetables. I like using plain chickpea hummus, but you can also used flavored if you like. If you don’t want to use chickpea hummus, can substitute for cannellini beans. 

Cabbage: Adding fresh, shredded cabbage livens this dish with crunch. I like to chop the cabbage really thin and mix it with other fresh vegetables like carrots and green bell peppers to make a base for the bowl, and then I layer the roasted vegetables on top. If you want to roast everything and make your life easier, you can do that too, but make sure you don’t slice too thinly so it doesn’t burn in the oven. 

Carrots: Same with the cabbage, I like to chop the carrots up finely and add them to the cabbage to make a fresh slaw for the bowl. If you want to roast the carrots instead, you can throw them into the oven along with the eggplants and tomatoes and they should cook right up.

Bell peppers: For added crunch and color, I like to add bell peppers to this recipe. You can use any color. I used green bell peppers here because I like their fresh taste. 

Red onions: The colors and flavor of red onions stand out in this dish. You can also substitute with yellow onions too. 

Lemon juice: To add zing and zip, I suggest drizzling over lemon juice to help brighten this dish while also adding flavor. 

Herbs: Herbs like parsley, cilantro, mint, and dill help keep this bowl bright and flavorful. You can use whatever herbs you have on hand. Basil and oregano will also work here. 

Seeds or nuts: For texture, crunch, and protein, I like to sprinkle seeds as a finisher. I use pumpkin seeds here, but you can use nuts such as walnuts or sliced almonds. 

Oils: I used olive oil when cooking up my ingredients, but I suggest using chili oil to add a bit of heat as a finishing oil when plating. 

What’s the best way to cook eggplant?

Honest answer, there isn't necessarily a single "best" way to cook eggplant. The best way all depends on the dish you're making. Here's a rundown of popular methods to cook eggplant:

Roasting: This is an effective, all-purpose method that brings out eggplant's sweetness through caramelization. You can cube or slice the eggplant, toss with olive oil and seasonings, and roast in the oven until tender and golden brown. I use this method for my roasted eggplant and tomato veggie bowl with crispy paneer recipe.

Sautéing: If you want to make dishes with a softer eggplant texture, sautéing could be a great method to try. You can either slice your eggplant and cook it in a pan with oil, or you can coat the eggplant slices with flour or breadcrumbs for a crispier texture. You can then use the sautéed eggplant in pasta dishes or stir-fries.

Air frying: If you’re looking for a healthier alternative to deep-frying, you can try the air frying method. Cube or slice your eggplant, toss it with oil and spices, and air fry it until crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. Air-fried eggplant is great for salads, appetizers, or even as a vegan substitute for meat.

Grilling:  This method is perfect for infusing the eggplant with a smoky flavor. Slice the eggplant into thick portions, brush with olive oil, and grill over medium heat until tender and slightly charred. Grilled eggplant is delicious when served on its own with a drizzle of balsamic glaze, lemon juice, or tahini. You can eat the eggplant as is or add it to wraps, sandwiches, and more.

What’s paneer and how do I cook with it?

Paneer is a fresh, non-aged cheese common in South Asian cuisine. It's made by curdling milk with an acidic ingredient like lemon juice or vinegar, then pressing the curds into a solid block. Paneer has a mild flavor, but it is great at absorbing the flavors of the spices and sauces it's cooked in. 

  • What is paneer: A protein-rich cheese made from milk curds, similar to tofu but with a thicker texture.
  • Flavor: Mild on its own, but absorbs flavors well.
  • Texture: Chewy and slightly squeaky. It’s like halloumi but it’s salty. It’s great for cooking, grilling, and sautéing because it doesn’t melt easily and holds it’s structure well.

Paneer is a versatile cheese and can be used in many dishes:

  • Curries: This is one of the most popular ways to cook paneer. A large portion of the South Asian population is vegetarian, therefore, it’s common for paneer to be used as a meat substitute. Common dishes you will find paneer used in are paneer butter masala and palak paneer (spinach curry with paneer).
  • Stir-fries: I’ve also seen paneer used in stir-fries, especially in Indochinese cuisines. Usually, the paneer is cubed or crumbled and added to vegetables and sauce.
  • Salads: This is how I typically like eating paneer, in salads. Pan-fry, roast, or grill paneer cubes and toss them into a salad for a protein boost. I like to replace croutons with paneer to add more nutrients.
  • Skewers: This is another common way to eat paneer in South Asia. Thread paneer cubes with vegetables and grill them for a flavorful appetizer or main course.

Here are some tips for cooking with paneer:

  • Don't overcook it: Paneer can become tough if cooked for too long. Aim for a slightly golden brown color or a warmed-through texture.
  • Pre-soak for a softer texture: Soaking paneer in hot water for 15-20 minutes before cooking can help prevent it from becoming rubbery.
  • Fry it or roast it in the oven for a bit of crust: Pan-frying paneer with oil or ghee adds a nice golden crust and enhances its flavor. I can’t stand the mess of frying, so I spray some cooking oil on the paneer and roast it in the oven. It yields the same results and you use a lot less oil.

What’s healthier: paneer and tofu?

Both paneer and tofu can be used as meat substitutes, but they are ultimately different and have different health benefits. Paneer is a dairy product, made from cow’s milk. Tofu is a plant product, made from soybeans. Both have pros and cons health-wise. Here’s what you need to know about these two ingredients:


  • Pros: High source of protein (per 100g), a good source of calcium, and B vitamins.
  • Cons: Higher in calories and fat (especially saturated fat), not suitable for vegans.


  • Pros: Lower in calories and fat, good source of iron, potassium, and fiber, contains isoflavones (plant compounds with potential health benefits), vegan-friendly.
  • Cons: Lower in protein (per 100g) than paneer, calcium content can vary depending on how it's processed.

When choosing the right foods for your diet needs, here are some things to consider:

  • Weight management: Tofu is a better choice due to its lower calorie and fat content.

  • Building muscle: Paneer might be a better option because of its higher protein content per 100g serving. However, portion size matters, and you might consume more tofu to get the same amount of protein as paneer.

  • Dietary restrictions: Tofu is vegan, while paneer is dairy-based.

  • Nutrient needs: If you need more calcium, factor in how the tofu is processed. Tofu made with calcium sulfate will be higher in calcium than paneer. Tofu is a good source of iron, which paneer lacks.

Recipe: Roasted eggplant and tomato veggie bowl with crispy paneer

  • Prep time: 20 minutes 
  • Bake time: 45 minutes 
  • Assembly time: 15 minutes 
  • Total cook time: 1 hour and 20 minutes


  • 1 medium Italian eggplant or 3 Japanese eggplants (450 grams)
  • 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes (240 grams)
  • 16 ounces paneer or tofu (453 grams)
  • ½ chopped red onions
  • ½ chopped bell peppers
  • ¼ cup chopped herbs: Parsley, cilantro, dill (optional basil or oregano) 
  • ½ cup shredded cabbage 
  • ¼ shredded carrots 
  • 2 tablespoons hummus 
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil 
  • ½ teaspoon paprika 
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper 
  • 1 teaspoon chili oil 
  • Salt to taste 


Step 1 

Cube your eggplant, and then place it in a colander in the sink or a bowl with drainage. Sprinkle a teaspoon of kosher salt over the eggplant and let it rest for 20 minutes. The eggplant will seep out any bitter flavors during this time. When the eggplant has rested for 20 minutes, shake off the excess water and salt, or use a paper towel to brush it off.

Step 2

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Step 3

As the eggplant drains, let’s chop up our vegetables. Cut your cherry or grape tomatoes in half. Chop your bell pepper into cubes. Put the cherry tomatoes and bell peppers into the same bowl as your drained eggplant. Add two tablespoons of oil, garlic powder, paprika, and black pepper to the vegetables and toss everything until incorporated. Place your vegetables onto a lined baking sheet and place in the oven for 40 to 45 minutes at 375 degrees. 

Step 3

And set aside in a bowl. Shred your cabbage and carrots thinly and place them in a separate bowl. This will be our fresh vegetable base for our bowl. 

Step 4

Let paneer come to room temperature and cut into cubes. Coat in a tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper over the paneer.

Then place on a lined baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes or until the paneer is lightly browned. If you are using tofu instead, drain and press your firm tofu for 15 minutes, coat in oil, and add salt and pepper. Add to a lined baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes at 375 degrees. If you want your tofu to be a bit crispy, you can coat it in a tablespoon of corn scratch and bake in the oven. 

Step 5 

Once your vegetables have baked and caramelized in the oven and your paneer or tofu is crispy, let them cool down for 10 minutes before we start assembling our bowl. For the bowl, add a thick layer of hummus to the bottom of the bowl. Next, add a handful of your fresh cabbage and carrot slaw on top of the hummus. Then, add as much roasted vegetables as you like. Next, add your paneer or tofu. I like to add about 10 pieces, but this is adjustable to your hunger levels.

Squeeze your lemon wedge over the vegetables and paneer. Add your chili oil on top and sprinkle over your pumpkin seeds or chopped nuts. Add your chopped fresh herbs and dig in. This bowl is best enjoyed right away. The roasted vegetables and cooked paneer or tofu will last in the refrigerator for 5 days. 

Did you make this recipe? Let me know what you think by adding your comments below. 

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