September 17, 2014

Eggplant Pesto

Hello there.. it's been long time since I have posted anything on the blog.. just couldn't recollect when my last post was. I decided to ditch my poor little blog to have a relaxed and enjoyable summer vacation. All these while, I was pretending to be busy (in a way I was..), while having a good time with my family & friends. I intended to catch-up with blogging after my vacation, but warm-up time took a little longer than expected. Otherwise, things are perfectly fine at my end. 

So here I am, finally, dusting off my blog with a simple recipe for eggplant pesto, a pesto that you could use as a spread in sandwich or as a pesto for pasta or as a dip for chips/veggies.

While the traditional basil pesto uses basil, pine-nuts, garlic combined with olive oil and often cheese, I love to mix & match herbs (like mint, cilantro, basil etc) and nuts (like almonds, pine-nuts, walnuts etc) or a combination of nuts, whichever in stock. Usually I skip cheese and cut down on olive oil, instead add more herbs & nuts to achieve the consistency. Check out my recipes for almond-mint pesto, roasted bell-pepper pesto, broccolette pesto, incase you are looking for healthy pesto alternatives.

In this particular recipe, I have used roasted eggplants, almonds & cilantro combo. I don't have hard & fast rules when it comes to the quantity of nuts & herbs. Instead I just go by my instincts or add more/less depending on my liking for that particular nut/herb. Sun-dried tomatoes (about 4-5 nos.) is "the" perfect choice for this pesto, as it can add a nice tangy flavor to the recipe, in which case you can also skip the cooking part of fresh tomatoes. However, I used fresh tomatoes as I didn't have any sun-dried ones in stock.

Roasted eggplants adds a nice smoky flavor to the recipe. My Indian roots took over in picking the herb for this recipe, that is "cilantro". But, feel free to experiment it with other herbs that you might have. Be mindful of the fact that eggplant is a watery vegetable and incase your pesto turns a little loose / runny than expected, add more herbs/nuts/cheese to achieve the desired consistency.

Basic Info
Complexity - Simple
Prep time - 20 mins
Cook time - 10 mins
Serves - about 1/2 cup of pesto

2 regular Eggplants (the ones that I used were of small to medium size)
1 Garlic
1 Tomato (skip if using sun-dried tomatoes)
1/3 cup slivered Almonds
1/2 cup Cilantro, packed 
2-3 tbsp Olive oil
A generous pinch of chilli flakes, per your taste
Parmesan Cheese, as required
Salt to taste

Roast the eggplants directly over flame in gas cooktop or use a wire-mesh for electric coil / electric smooth cooktop until the outer skin completely wilts and gets crackly on all sides, for about 15-20 mins. If you are not comfortable with either of these methods, check this recipe here to roast eggplants in conventional oven. Once roasted, let the eggplants cool. Peel off the outer layer and save the flesh for later.

Heat a tsp of olive oil, roast garlic until fragrant. Add chopped tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes thickens up like paste. Let it cool.

In a food processor, add cooked garlic/tomatoes, roasted eggplant flesh, almonds, cilantro, rest of the oil, salt & chilli flakes and give it a pulse until everything is coarsely chopped and looks like a pesto. Mix in parmesan cheese, if you are using.

Use this pesto in sandwich / pasta / simply as a dip.