THE RECIPE BOX - Eggplant dish is great for dinner with friends

THE RECIPE BOX - Eggplant dish is great for dinner with friends

LINCOLN – I had a lot on my mind while getting ready for a vacation, with the garden bursting.

As I looked out my kitchen window, I saw six full green basil plants, parsley, sage, thyme, some lemon balm, lavender and more. While there’s a crisp autumn-like feel in the air, I hope it does not hit hard for at least two more weeks, as the tomatoes are just coming into full swing.

I had resigned myself to the fact that it would all have to wait for my return to be processed and saved. I was out of time.

But, the one thing I promised myself I would do was to make my eggplant pesto recipe before I left, and I’m sharing it with you. This is a really delicious recipe that I stumbled upon, while trying to use up both eggplant and basil from the garden one year.

The pesto recipe is really simple. All you need is a blender, 4 cups of fresh basil, 1/2 cup of good olive oil, 2 cloves of garlic, six sprigs of parsley, 1/4 cup of pine or walnuts, 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese and I add a pinch of pepper.

I recently saw a cooking show that used fresh mint (equal parts basil and mint) as an alternative to the basil pesto. Basically you just blend all but the Parmesan cheese, adding that once it is all blended.

In any event, I learned that I had over-pulverizd the basil in the food chopper. It should not become too liquid and wet, with the chopping done in short stages, adding the oil last to prevent over-processing, and then just stir in the cheese.

The fresh mozzarella is a delicious type of cheese to top the pesto eggplant. My favorite pasta would be linguine but I don’t like it too thick. Toss the al dante pasta with some of the fresh pesto.

Enjoy it all together with some good red wine and friends for a simple enough Saturday night dinner.


Grilled eggplant 
with pesto

Ingredients:

2 small eggplant, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch rounds and grilled

1/2 cup prepared basil pesto

3-4 slice thinly sliced mozzarella, drain well on paper towels

Kosher salt

2 Tbsp. freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese

Directions:

1. Lay the grilled eggplant slices in one layer on a parchment, or foil-lined baking sheet. (Keep sizes similar, next to each other.)

2. Spread each slice with a little pesto, (1/4 tsp.) and top every other slice with a piece of fresh mozzarella.

3. Sprinkle salt on the cheese and top with the other eggplant slice.

4. Heat oven to 350 degrees, sprinkle them with grated parmigiano and heat until warmed through, about 4-5 minutes.

(Can be served as a starter or side dish.)

Or, for a main dish ...

I like to “stack” a few slices together, about three high, spreading a small amount of homemade pesto in between each layer and ending with a slice of soft mozzarella cheese. Add spaghetti sauce and serve with your favorite pasta.

Pesto is layered in between grilled slices of eggplant and topped with fresh mozzarella cheese.