29 Apr Grilled Eggplant Parm with Hazelnut Arugula Pesto and Quick Roasted Tomatoes
Grilled Eggplant Parm with Hazelnut Arugula Pesto and Quick Roasted Tomatoes
Yield: Serves 2
Cook Time: 40 Minutes
Traditional Eggplant Parmesan served over linguini is one of my favorite comfort foods, but for me, all the breading and frying and pasta makes it a special occasion indulgence type of meal. My answer to finding a way to eat it more often? Forgoing the steps that make it so heavy by turning it into a deconstructed grilled version. I pair grilled eggplant slices with a fresh light pesto, roasted tomatoes, a lot less cheese and oil, and lose the breadcrumbs and frying all together. Vegans, you can lose the cheese in the spread and the stack- it’s still delicious and holds together because of the thickness of the pesto. You can also do an appetizer size version of this by using the tiny varieties sometimes found in the farmers markets when eggplant is in peak season between July and October: Bite Size Joy!
1 Large Globe Eggplant or 2 Medium Italian Eggplants, Sliced ½ inch thick lengthwise
½ Cup Parmesan Cheese
½ Cup Fresh Mozzarella
1 Container Campari Tomatoes on the Vine
About 1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 Leaves Fresh Basil, Chiffonaded
Hazelnut Arugula Pesto
Hazelnut Arugula Pesto
1 Tablespoon Garlic, peeled and rough chopped
1 Cup of Toasted Hazelnuts
1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/3 Cup good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Hazelnut Oil (optional)
¼ Cup Parmesan Cheese (optional for vegans)
2 Tablespoons Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice
2 Cups Fresh Basil Leaves
2 Cups of Arugula
In a food processor chop garlic, hazelnuts and salt. Add basil leaves and arugula and pulse to combine into a paste. Blend in olive oil and hazelnut oil (optional) until you get a semi-smooth creamy paste. Add fresh lemon juice and more salt to taste. (I love my pesto a bit thicker and coarser so they’re more like a spread but if you like yours saucier and thinner, add more oil and blend until smooth). Pesto can be made up to 2 days ahead and stored in an air tight container in the fridge.
Quick Roasted Tomatoes
Preheat oven to 475. Gently lay tomatoes on sheet pan and drizzle with 1 Tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with 1 Teaspoon salt. Roast for about 20 minutes, until skins start to blister and brown. Remove from oven and set aside.
Soak sliced eggplant in salted ice water for 10 minutes (this leeches out the sometimes inherent bitterness of eggplant and prevents them from getting mushy on the grill)
Drain and pat dry, then brush each side generously with olive oil.
Heat Grill Pan on high heat and grill eggplant for 3-5 minutes on each side until tender and you have good grill marks on each side.
Putting it all together
On a sheet pan, lay down two of the largest slices of eggplant and top each with a thin layer of pesto and sprinkle of parmesan, repeat two more times on each stack, decreasing the size of the slices as you get higher up.
Top each stack with one last piece of eggplant, spread with pesto and fresh mozzarella and put under the broiler for a few minutes until the cheese melts and turns golden brown.
Plate, sprinkle with shaved parmesan, basil, top with a cluster of tomatoes and… Enjoy!