Penne with Eggplant and Mint Pesto

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2 large eggplants
1 pound penne
2 ounces walnut halves
For the Pesto
1 ounce fresh mint
1/2 ounce flat-leaf parsley
1-1/2 ounces walnuts
1-1/2 ounces Parmesan cheese, finely grated
2 garlic cloves
6 tablespoons olive oil
freshly ground black pepper

Cut the eggplants lengthwise into 1/2-inch slices.

Cut the slices again crosswise to give short strips.

Layer the strips in a colander with salt and leave to stand for 30 minutes over a plate to catch any juices. Rinse well in cool water and drain.

Place all the pesto ingredients except the oil in a blender or food processor, blend until smooth, then gradually add the oil in a thin stream until the mixture comes together. Season to taste.

Cook the penne following the instructions on the side of the package for about 8 minutes or until nearly cooked. Add the eggplant and cook for a further 3 minutes.

Drain well and mix in the mint pesto and walnut halves. Serve immediately.

Serves 4

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