Pesto Pasta With Grilled Eggplant and Cherry Tomatoes
Recipe type: Pasta
Yield: Serves 4-6; 1 cup of extra pesto
  • For the pesto:
  • 3 large or 4 small cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 cup (3 1/2 ounces) walnuts, toasted
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 loosely-packed cups (3 ounces) basil
  • 1 1/4 cups (3 1/8 ounces) parmesan, finely grated
  • 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly-cracked black pepper, to taste
  • For the pasta:
  • 3 small eggplants or 1 large globe, cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
  • Neutral oil, such as grapeseed or rice bran
  • Kosher salt
  • About 3/4 pound short pasta, such as penne or bow ties
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 4-5 sprigs basil, cut into chiffonade
  • Freshly-cracked black pepper, for finishing
  1. Make the pesto: Purée the garlic and walnuts in a food processor until a finely chopped. Add the olive oil and process until smooth. Add the basil in two batches, blending until smooth. Transfer the pesto base to a large mixing bowl.
  2. Fold in the parmesan, and 1 teaspoon salt. Seasoning to taste with pepper and additional salt as necessary.
  3. Grill the eggplant: Prepare a medium-high charcoal or gas grill.
  4. Brush the eggplant rounds on both sides with oil, sprinkle generously with salt, and arrange on the grill. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until golden-brown. Flip, cook for 2-3 more minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and slice into cubes.
  5. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until al dente; drain.
  6. Gently toss together the hot pasta, eggplant, and cherry tomatoes. Add the pesto to taste (I used about 1 cup, with about 1 cup leftover). Garnish with the basil chiffonade and a few grinds of black pepper. Serve hot or at room temperature.
About 1 cup of store-bought pesto can be substituted for homemade in a pinch. Let leftovers come up to room temperature for an hour; don't reheat.
Recipe by A Modest Feast at