Sunday, August 1, 2010

Roasted Eggplant Pesto

I'm a sucker for happy endings. They-lived-happily-ever-after endings and not guess-for-yourself endings. After I finished reading I Capture the Castle, I wasn't a happy camper. Not saying you shouldn't read it because it's a very cute story and an easy read. I guess I'm just overly romantic.

Following a recipe is like reading a book sometimes. I judge a book by its cover and the summary on the back, maybe the reviews. I look at pictures of the food, then the ingredients and then read the comments that others left. As I read a book, I wonder which emotions it will bring out. I can ask myself the same questions when I scan a recipe. What will the process be like? What kind of results will it yield? Will this recipe make me sad, nostalgic, angry, or excited? (Yes, I have experienced all those emotions while cooking and I'm sure I'm not the only one!)

Traditional pesto consists of pine nuts, basil, and parmesan, but this one strays far from that. Besides the basil, nothing else is the same. Just like when I am starting a new book, I entered this recipe feeling hesitant yet excited about trying something new. I was happy that I was finally using the sun-dried tomatoes sitting in my fridge; proud that, even though pesto is so easy to make, I had actually made it; then confused about why I didn't eat this stuff when I actually was a vegetarian. What a roller coaster!

Roasted Eggplant Pesto
From FatFree Vegan Kitchen

- 1 eggplant
- 1/4 cup almonds
- 2 sun-dried tomatoes (not oil-packed)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 cups basil leaves, lightly packed
- 1 tbsp nutritional yeast

1. At least 2 hours before using (and up to overnight), place almonds in a bowl and cover completely with water. Allow to soak at room temperature. Drain water before using.
2. Preheat oven to 400F. Trim off and discard the stem end of eggplant and cut in half lengthwise. Place cut-side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Pierce the backs of the eggplant with a fork in a few places. Bake until completely soft and somewhat collapsed, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. This can be done ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use.
3. Just before serving, put the almonds, sun-dried tomatoes, and garlic into food processor and pulse to chop. Peel the eggplant and add it, the basil, and the nutritional yeast to the processor and process to a coarse puree. Add salt to taste and pulse to blend.
4. Add a tablespoon to a serving of warm pasta (if the pesto is too thick to easily coat the pasta, add a little hot water to it), or use as a spread for bread or a dip for crackers or vegetables. Store in a covered container. For best color, either press a sheet of plastic wrap onto the exposed surface or spray with a light film of olive oil.


I ate it with whole wheat pasta, hence the funky color on the spaghetti. The pesto did not do that so no worries. I decided to double the recipe as I eat pesto quite often. It's such a great addition to sandwiches and pasta. I would advise you to use a little less eggplant if you plan to double. Too much of it can make the other flavors disappear. Half of the batch is sitting in the freezer; the other half in the fridge for me to eat throughout the week. I quite like this ending.

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