Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Eggplant Loves Pesto

Stacks of Parmesan rinds
left over from pesto, ready for soup!
Once again the ladies at work and I found ourselves sitting around our lunch table talking about food, and for some reason the topic of pesto came up.  Now we were on a roll, taking about all sorts of pesto, and how we loved to use them, and what recipes were our favorites when my lovely British co-worker started to complain about how she can't find Aubergine pesto here in the states (at least here in the Pacific Northwest).  Now feeling like a very stupid American I had to ask her what in the hell is Aubergine pesto, thinking instantly of the color, and stupidly wondering what purple thing you could possibly make pesto out of.  So a little translation was required, and once again I was shown that there is a distinct difference between American and British English, and in conclusion, after much discussion, here in the states Aubergine is called eggplant and well in the UK (and originally France) I now know that eggplant is obviously called Aubergine (don't even get me started on zucchini versus courgettes or coriander versus cilantro.....these differences give me a culinary brain fart sometimes).  This situation also pointed out that I really needed to get out more......but that's a separate issue.  So a couple of weeks later we just so happened to drop by our little weekly farmers market and wouldn't you know it, destiny slapped me in the face, told me not to be such a linguistically challenged girl, and presented me with beautiful eggplants just begging to be turned into pesto.  Now I know that this post may be seasonally inappropriate since the time for local basil has long gone, but I am still finding very good basil at the market (even if it is not local), and since at least here, eggplants are available most of the year, I figured I could still share this recipe and be somewhat of a foodie....well, a little bit of a foodie anyway.  So I took my little purple beasts home and tried to conjure up a pesto recipe, in the hopes that it would come somewhat close to the variety my lovely British friend gets at home.  So I roasted and chopped and processed and took it to work the next day, fearing the worst........that it would not even be close.  Thankfully after seeing the expression on her face I think that it was a pretty good match, and judging from how quickly it disappeared I would say that it was delicious.  So at any rate I think I achieved my goal, and did a pretty good job of turning a linguistic embarrassment into another recipe that I can share and most importantly, hopefully, while rather small in measure, this little pesto gave my dear friend a taste of home.

Eggplant Pesto
1 large eggplant peeled and cubed
1 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt (I prefer kosher)
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3 cloves garlic roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups basil leaves
6 sun dried tomato halves packed in oil
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Additional salt to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.   Place the cubed eggplant in a large bowl and toss with 3/4 cup of the olive oil and the salt and pepper.  If the eggplant seems a little dry you can add a little more oil but it does soak it up like a sponge and then releases a fair bit after it has roasted.  Place the eggplant on a cookie sheet and roast until the eggplant is tender, about 30-45 minutes.  Once the eggplant is tender, remove from the oven and allow it to cool completely.  While the eggplant is cooling place the basil and garlic in a food processor and process until finely chopped.  Add the sun dried tomatoes and chop again. 
Once the eggplant is cool add to the basil mixture along with the Parmesan.  Turn the processor on and while it is running drizzle the remaining olive oil in.  You can add more or less olive oil depending on the consistency you are looking for.  Salt the pesto to taste. 
So let it be known that I did leave out one of the key ingredients to pesto, pine nuts.  This happened purely by accident......and well, this pesto was soooo good without them that I decided not to include them, but you can add them if you feel disturbed making pesto without pine nuts.  I have spread this pesto over some good bread with a little Mascarpone, I have tossed it with warm spaghetti, and I have used it as a spread for sandwiches, it's just that good!  This unfortunately or fortunately means that I have a year's supply of this stuff in my freezer!

No comments:

Post a Comment