This grilled vegetable Napoleon is a showstopper with vibrant, char-grilled layers of veggies like eggplant, zucchini, bell pepper, portobello mushroom, and more. If you want a visually stunning and flavorful side dish, look no further. Served with aromatic basil pesto, it is stunning and flavorful.
If you are looking for other easy vegan eggplant recipes, check out our vegan eggplant parmesan, vegan moussaka, and easy ratatouille.
What to expect?
This vegetable side dish was inspired by the popular layered desserts, the Russian Napoleon cake, and the French Mille-Feuille. Since the same layered technique was applied to make this savory grilled vegetable Napoleon. The stacked nature of the dish adds a touch of elegance, making it a show-stopping side dish that might just steal the show.
The vegetables (portobello mushrooms, eggplant, sweet potatoes, zucchini, onion, and bell pepper) are seasoned with aromatic oregano and fresh basil, then grilled to perfection until they’re smoky, charred, and irresistibly savory. It is an explosion of flavors that will awe your taste buds with every bite.
To take the dish to the next level, we added a basil pesto that packs fresh, herbaceous notes, complementing the veggies perfectly. This recipe is easy to follow, requiring only a few ingredients and simple steps. Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a novice in the kitchen, this grilled vegetable Napoleon is a must-try recipe that will leave your taste buds singing!
We highly recommend using the freshest produce to ensure maximum flavor. However, if you’re short on time or unable to find certain ingredients, don’t worry – you can make some easy substitutions. You will get more into variations further down below!
- Red bell pepper – any color would do
- Sweet potatoes – butternut squash, or pumpkin can also be used
- Portobello mushrooms – other types of mushrooms can work as well, although large portobello mushroom caps fit the best to create a stack
🛒 You can find detailed measurements for all ingredients in the printable version of the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Preparing the ingredients
- Begin by cleaning the portobello mushrooms and removing the stems.
- Slice the eggplant into rounds that are approximately 0.5 cm thick. Sprinkle them with salt and leave them on a paper towel until you prepare everything else. Gently wipe the slices dry before grilling.
- To ensure your veggie stack looks perfect, cut all the other veggies to match the size of the mushroom caps and eggplant discs.
- Peel the sweet potatoes and slice them horizontally to get 0.5 cm thick slices.
- Wash the medium zucchini, and slice them horizontally into 0.5 cm thick slices.
- Peel and slice the onion into discs.
- Wash the bell pepper and slice it.
- Mix olive oil, oregano, and basil in a small bowl to make a quick marinade.
- Preheat a grill pan on medium heat and add oil. Divide the veggies into three groups, depending on the size of your pan.
- Once the pan is hot, add the first group, eggplant, and mushroom. Grill them for 4-5 minutes on both sides.
- Once the veggies are cooked enough that they are tender but still have a slight crunch, brush them with the seasoning and grill them for another 2 minutes.
- Next up are the sweet potato and zucchini slices. Grill them for 4-5 minutes on both sides. Brush them with the spice mix and grill them for another 2 minutes.
- The last group would be the red bell pepper and the onion. Do the same as before. Grill them without the seasoning for 4-5 minutes, then after brushing them for another 2 minutes.
Assembling the vegetable napoleon
- Once all the vegetables are grilled, it’s time to assemble the Napoleon dish.
- Begin by placing a slice of eggplant on the plate.
- Add a layer of sweet potatoes, followed by a layer of zucchini, bell pepper, onion slice, and a portobello mushroom on top.
- Repeat this layering process until you have a tall vegetable Napoleon stack.
- Top the stack with sprouts or fresh herbs for an extra pop of color and flavor.
- Serve with a dollop of pesto on the side. Enjoy!
- Slice the veggies uniformly – To ensure the vegetables cook evenly, try to slice them as uniformly as possible. This will help in creating an aesthetically pleasing vegetable Napoleon.
- Use oil or cooking spray – To prevent the vegetables from sticking to the grill pan, lightly brush them before placing them on the pan. You can also use a non-stick spray.
- Crunch up the dish – To add some crunch and freshness, top the stacks with some toasted nuts or seeds, such as pine nuts or sunflower seeds, and some micro greens or chopped herbs like basil, parsley, or cilantro.
- Substitute different veggies – You can use any vegetables of your choice, such as asparagus, carrots, or yellow squash. You can also substitute sweet potatoes with regular potatoes. If portobello mushrooms are hard to source, you can use any type of mushroom available to you. Just make sure to adjust the cooking time accordingly.
- Use different seasonings – Experiment with different herbs and spices for the seasoning, such as thyme or rosemary, to give the dish a unique flavor.
- Sauce alternatives – If you don’t have access to pesto, you can try using tomato sauce, yogurt, or hummus as a substitute. Check out our spinach pesto and sun-dried tomato pesto recipes for inspiration!
- Create a creamy texture – Add a cashew cream, vegan cream cheese, or vegan sour cream layer between the vegetables.
- Top it off: Add a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, a sprinkle of sesame seeds, or some chopped nuts like walnuts or almonds on top of the dish to add a layer of flavor and texture.
- Pair it with a protein: This dish is versatile and pairs well with many proteins. For a vegetarian option, try serving it with a tofu steak or a cauliflower steak.
- Make it a meal: While this dish can be served as a side, you can make it a full meal by serving it with a grain such as quinoa, rice, or couscous. Add some roasted chickpeas or black beans for added protein and texture.
- Serve with dips: You can serve this dish with different dips like hummus, vegan tzatziki, or guacamole to enhance the flavors and textures of the vegetables.
- Substitute vegetables: Feel free to swap out any of the vegetables in this recipe with your favorites. You can also experiment with spices and herbs to create unique flavor combinations.
- Grill pan – a grill pan will help you get beautiful grill marks on your vegetables and add a nice smoky flavor. For a larger batch, use a griddle or an outdoor grill. Our little trick is to use aluminum foil drip pans to make grilling these vegetables easier.
Vegetable Napoleon can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. You can turn leftovers into grilled veggie sandwich for lunch.
To reheat: Preheat the oven to 350 °F (ca. 177 °C) and place the stack on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover the stack with foil and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until heated through.
To freeze: Wrap the vegetable Napoleon stack in plastic wrap and then in foil, and place it in a freezer-safe bag or container. It can be stored in the freezer for up to 2 months. To reheat from frozen, let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight and then follow the same instructions for reheating in the oven.
Whether it is a Russian or French dessert or a savory, vegetable side dish, when you see the name Napoleon, you should think of many layers stacked on each other.
First, marinate vegetables like eggplant, zucchini, mushrooms, sweet potato, bell pepper, and onion. Then grill them in a grill pan or on an outdoor grill. Stack them with a sauce of your liking, for example, pesto, cream cheese, sour cream, or tomato-based sauces. Our recipe will show you all the things you need to know.
More vegetable side dish recipes
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Grilled Vegetable Napoleon
- 1 Red bell pepper
- 1 Zucchini
- 1 Eggplant (medium)
- 2 Sweet potato
- 2 Portobello mushrooms
- 1 Onion (medium)
- 1 tsp Oregano
- 1 tsp Basil
- 2 Tbsp Olive oil
- 1 tsp Salt
- ¼ tsp Black pepper
Prepare the vegetables
- Clean and remove the stem of the portobello mushrooms.
- Wash and slice eggplant approx. 0.5 cm thick. Sprinkle some salt on top and leave it on a paper towel for a couple of minutes. Pat it dry before grilling.
- To build the perfect stack, cut all other veggies to match the size of the mushroom and eggplant discs.
- Wash and peel sweet potatoes. Cut them horizontally to get 0.5 cm thick slices.
- Wash zucchini. No need to peel them. Cut them horizontally to get 0.5 cm thick slices.
- Peel and slice the onion to create discs.
- Wash and slice the bell pepper to the size of the eggplant.
- Grill the vegetables
- In a seperate bowl, mix oil, oregano, and basil to make a quick marinade.
- Preheat a grill pan over medium heat. Add a bit of oil.
- Add as many vegetables as you can spread in one layer. Season them with salt and pepper. Brush the top of the vegetables with the marinade. Grill for 4-5 minutes on each side.
- Assemble the vegetable Napoleon, by layering the veggies in your preferred order. Top the stack with sprouts or fresh herbs. Serve it with pesto.
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