like most other children, i used to hate eggplant. i continued doing so until i worked in a tapas restaurant in high school where they served the most delicious breaded eggplant covered with marinara and alfredo sauces. i think they called it eggplant parmesan. well i’m not sure how to prepare the classic version of eggplant parm and frankly i don’t care because this recipe is so delicious. and made with my beautiful farmer’s market eggplant! the parmesan happens to be in quotes because there is not a speck of parmesan in this recipe, just mozzarella. i just didn’t feel like calling it: breaded and pan fried eggplant in a bed of marinara topped with melted mozzarella and (get this) pesto.
the pesto is the quiet star that brings this recipe together. rather than a basil-y marinara sauce where the flavor can all too easily get lost i made a batch of the most basic pesto with my pile of basil. the pesto doesn’t take over the dish either as it can do because its just a small amount on top. it takes this from any old eggplant recipe to something deserving to be in a gourmet kitchen. (my delicious recipe for the pesto is here but i didn’t bother with the parmesan in this case because i didn’t have any and i wanted dinner, not a trip to the store!)
i feel a little silly posting a recipe on how to make caprese but i didn’t discover it until 6 or 7 years ago so chances are there are still a few people out there who don’t know it exists yet. and of course i’m a bit biased and think my way of doing it is the best.
its been almost a week since i posted a recipe. yikes! i just went back to work this week after having almost 4 months of vacation so when i come home i’m lazy and exhausted from my long bike ride so anything coming from the kitchen (rather than pizza delivery or the bar across the street) is a miracle. that’s why i have had caprese 3 out of 7 days this week.
the other thing keeping recipes off this blog this week is the fear of having to clean up my kitchen to take photos. there are lots of blogs that have recently done “my kitchen in real life” bits, where their kitchen looks like the immaculate surfaces in my mom’s house and i really don’t believe that’s “real life”. that’s not how my kitchen rolls unless its once a week after we clean. most of the time i can shove things out of the camera frame, but not this week. that’s what sundays are for.
i feel like i’m saying this all the time, and it may be a reflection of how i cook (especially in the summer), but this is so easy! and delicious! you don’t even have to throw things in the food processor for a dressing, or the skillet or oven for roasting. oh no, this is a one pot plus cutting board meal. just to really drive in how easy this pasta is to make, i made it with a broken collarbone, i.e. one functioning left arm when i’m right-handed, when i could barely make toast.
the idea comes from smitten kitchen and deb’s amazing asparagus, goat cheese, and lemon pasta. i’ve made her version and mixed it up by adding or substituting herbs, tomato, roasted garlic, and green beans. like most pasta salads i’ve encountered, this is good warm or cold.
we used to serve a version of this at my first restaurant job and i ate tons of it. along with a super dense rich chocolate cake that came in a box and had enough cholesterol to last you a few days worth of your recommended daily intake.
i’ll give you the classic version someday but this is the roasted one i created recently. i made it as hot pasta to cure a hangover (it was all i wanted) and i found it was just as good, if not better, a few hours after it had been hanging out in the fridge.