Monday, August 4, 2008

Eggplant, Still Not Feeling It

I want to like eggplant. I feel like I should like eggplant. But I'm just not feeling it. There are only a few eggplant recipes that really appeal to me (I'll be sharing one that I truly like very soon). Fortunately I heard a piece on Morning Edition today that made me feel better about my ambivalence and sometimes dislike of eggplant -- apparently Nigella Lawson doesn't particularly care for eggplant either, nor, for that matter, does host Renee Montagne. Apparently I'm not alone.

In my quest to find a delicious and non-slimy eggplant recipe I like I decided to do a grilled vegetable and pesto pasta dish. While the dish as a whole was good, I still didn't care for the eggplant. In fact, on my second helping I picked through so I wouldn't get any eggplant. I'm so mature.

Despite the fact that I didn't care for the eggplant, the dish was good as a whole, and so I am happy to share the recipe.

Pasta with Grilled Vegetables and Cilantro Pecan Pesto

1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup pecans
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
3/4 cup fresh packed cilantro
1 tablespoon ume plum vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Assorted vegetables (seeded roma tomatoes, onions, eggplant, summer squash)

Shelled edamame (if frozen, boiled for 5 minutes and drained)

8 oz dried pasta (a short noodle such as penne works best)

For pesto: Lightly toast pine nuts and pecans and cool. Place nuts, garlic, cilantro and ume plum vinegar into the bowl of a food processor, and pulse until fine and well mixed. With processor running, slowly add oil. Set aside.

While pasta is cooking, heat grill. Slice vegetables (halve tomatoes) and toss with olive oil. If using eggplant, slice and sprinkle with kosher salt and set in a colander for half an hour, then rinse before roasting. Roast on grill until grill marks appear and vegetables are beginning to soften.

Roughly chop vegetables. Drain pasta reserving some pasta water. Mix vegetables and edamame with pasta. Add pesto, more or less to taste. If too thick, add a bit of pasta water.

Serves 4 - 6

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