Completely vegan, this delicious appetizer has a surprisingly creamy consistency and lots of wonderful, complex flavor.
Leaving some of the skin on the eggplant adds texture and color and if you have time, make it at least 2 hours ahead to allow the flavors to develop. You can make it the day before and keep it covered in the fridge but bring it back to room temp before serving.
Watch the pine nuts like a hawk as you toast them in a skillet or frying pan, as they’ll burn in a nano-second.
Salting the eggplant and allowing it to sit for 30 minutes first will draw out some of the moisture, giving it a nicer texture when cooked.
I made the crostini by smearing each side of thinly sliced baguette with a small amount of good quality mayonnaise, then toasting one side at a time in a very hot non-stick skillet – you end up with a lovely, golden crispy crunch.
ROASTED EGGPLANT with PINE NUTS, BASIL, MINT & PARSLEY
(Serves 6 as an appetizer)
1.25 lbs (.56k) eggplant (aubergine)
Approx 1/4 cup of extra-v olive oil
1/3 cup (80ml measure) of pine nuts, lightly toasted in a dry pan
1 clove of garlic, peeled
2 1/2 tablespoons of chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons of chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon of chopped fresh mint leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
To serve, toast, crostini, crackers, pita bread or crudités
Trim away the eggplant stalk and using a potato peeler, peel off about 3/4 of the skin lengthways, leaving some strips behind. Slice the eggplant into rounds about 1/2 inch (1 cm) thick.
Arrange the slices on a rack and sprinkle both sides with a little sea salt. Set the rack over the sink and allow the slices to drain for about 30 minutes.
Rinse the salt off the eggplant and pat dry on paper towel.
Pre-heat the grill/broiler and brush both sides of the slices with olive oil. Arrange them on a grilling rack and broil both sides for about 6-7 minutes, or until tinged golden brown and they’re tender when pierced with the point of a knife – they need to be soft in the middle and cooked through.
Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts and put them in a food processor with the garlic. Pulse until finely chopped, followed by the cooked eggplant slices. Process until you have a coarse purée.
Transfer the puréed eggplant to a bowl and fold in the chopped herbs; check the seasoning (you may not need any more salt) and add a grind of black pepper.
Cover and allow it to sit at room temp for a couple of hours before serving, or chill overnight in the fridge but bring it back to room temp before serving with your favorite crackers or toasts.