I’m in love with eggplant. It’s easy to grow, incredibly versatile, abounds at farmer’s markets, and typically, it’s dirt cheap. On top of that, there are countless varieties, and you can’t get past the gorgeous color.
Picked up a few HUGE eggplants this morning. Here’s a quick, easy pasta dish to use them with. Nearly everything here comes from local sources in this recipe, save the parmesan cheese and the pasta. I feel strongly that basil is a key kitchen staple, and so grow the standard variety, and thai basil on my porch. This recipe uses plenty of the former.
I usually make this in a very large batch – mostly for Sunday dinner. I have a few friends over, throw this together, and get after some wine. It keeps very well, and makes for a killer lunch the next few days.
Pesto Trenette with Eggplant
4 cups of fresh basil 3 cloves garlic 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts 1/4 cup parmesan cheese 2-3 cups olive oil
With blender (or my favorite kitchen gadget, the immersion blender), combine all ingredients. Add more oil as needed for consistency.
Reserve 1/4 additional pinenuts and additional cheese.
1 large eggplant (or 2 medium), cubed 2 cloves of garlic, minced Salt & Pepper to taste
Cut eggplant into 1/2 inch cubes. Toss in salt and pepper and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Drain out liquid that salt pulls out. In a large saute pan, make two turns of good quality olive oil. Heat on low, and add minced garlic. Allow oil to come to temperature slowly, so as not to burn the garlic. Right before it starts to sizzle, throw in eggplant. Cook eggplant over medium heat until translucent, but still slightly firm.
Cook trenette as directed.
Before draining pasta, spoon about 1/2 cup of the starchy pasta water into the pesto, and blend. This will bring it to an easy to use consistency. In a large bowl, toss all prepared ingredients. Finish with remaining toasted pine nuts and parmesan. Serve!