11.02.2016

red pepper pesto with grilled eggplant

Last night I wanted to make something fresh, and different with very little prep time. I had some leftover refried black beans from a cookbook review and I wanted to make good use of it.

I was toying with the idea of using up some of the jarred red peppers I had in the fridge, without having to resort to freezing them, as I will normally do after I open a jar. Because I was a little remiss in doing that with this jar a few weeks ago, I was worried it was going to spoil. So with that introduction, this sauce/dish was born: Grilled Eggplant with Red Pepper Pesto.



I am a huge proponent of grilling vegetables because you can get away with using little or no oil, and grilling eggplant is one of my favorite ways of tackling this fruit/vegetable. Slice 2 pounds of eggplant into 1/2-inch rounds or planks. Use a grill pan and grill the eggplant for 2 minutes. Cover your pan to trap the smoke (therefore smoking your eggplant in the process, too) and after 2 minutes move each slice about 45-degrees. Grill for 2 more minutes, flip and repeat.

A few reasons to cook it this way (grilling covered and moving the eggplant 45-degrees), and neither are that it makes the eggplant look pretty.

1. It cooks the eggplant through. Tough eggplant is great for jerky, but not for this recipe.
2. It prevents the eggplant from burning, which would make the burnt parts bitter.

Then use the eggplant as you desire.

I chose to smother my eggplant with this deliciously delightful Red Pepper Pesto. The pesto consists of jarred peppers, nutritional yeast, toasted pistachios, garlic, oregano and salt and pepper. And, to make it creamy and tangy without adding oil, I added a few tablespoons of yogurt. Which made it perfect! Buzz the whole thing in a food processor and it is ready.


I just layered my eggplant,


with refried black beans (or not, your choice), and added some pesto, then repeated until I had no more eggplant left.


I added the rest of the pesto to the top and baked the whole thing until hot. I topped it with some parsley and fresh bread crumbs, but you totally don't have to.

If you are making the bread crumbs, blend 2 or 3 slices of whole grain bread and toast it in a skillet until dry, about 3 to 4 minutes, stirring constantly. You can add a few tablespoons of oil, if you want, but I didn't find it necessary. Mix in a few tablespoons of parsley for added flavor, nutrition and color, and serve.








Red Pepper Pesto
Makes about 1 1/2 cups


4 jarred, roasted red peppers
1/2 cup toasted pistachios
3 tablespoons unsweetened, plain nondairy yogurt (use almond or soy. Coconut might add coconut flavor)
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
4 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon dried oregano or 2 tablespoons fresh oregano
Sea salt and black pepper


1. Add the peppers, pistachios, yogurt, yeast, garlic, oregano and salt and pepper, to taste, to a food processor. Process until it is as smooth as you like it. I like some small bits of pistachio still evident. If you like a very smooth pesto, add all the ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. 
2. Taste and adjust seasoning.
3. Serve as a dip, on pasta or over grilled eggplant. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.  



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