Eggplant-Pesto Towers

I saw a recipe not so long ago for a wonderful-looking dish, with fanned eggplant filled with pesto, tomato and cheese. I tried it and it was alright, but I’m never one to be happy with a recipe “as-is” and so I set about trying to improve it. Tonight we are going to see how my new and improved version stacks up (so to speak) against the original. What follows isn’t so much a recipe as a description, since amounts of ingredients will vary so much with the size of the eggplant and personal taste.

The first thing I did was slice and grill the eggplant slices. Eggplant is one of those finicky vegetables that doesn’t always cook the way we think it should, and so pre-grilling it guarantees that it is suitably cooked.

I sliced the eggplants into 1-cm thick rounds, brushed both sides with a good amount of olive oil, and then placed into a 450F oven for 40 minutes, flipping the slices at the 25-minute mark. Keep an eye on the eggplant slices; you might want to take them out of the oven a few minutes before this, if they seem to be getting too brown.

Here are my grilled eggplant rounds:

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After letting them cool enough to handle, I began to assemble my towers. I divided the rounds into enough groups of three, using three rounds per tower. For the base I took the largest of the three rounds and spread it with a bit of pesto, then added a thin slice of tomato, and finally a slice of mozzarella cheese. Then I topped each tower with a second eggplant round, as follows:

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In order, you can see the assembly in process: pesto, then tomato, then cheese, then more eggplant.

I completed the second rounds like the first (eggplant, pesto, tomato, cheese), and finally added the third slice of eggplant to the top. I brushed the top of each with a bit more pesto, and finally added a few shavings of Parmesan cheese to the very top of each.

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Finally, I baked them at 375F for 20 minutes to cook the tomato and melt the cheese.

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How do they taste? Really…. with pesto and cheese, how can you go wrong? I’ll post an update after we try them with the rest of the meal. If you experiment with something like this, let me know what you think.

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2 thoughts on “Eggplant-Pesto Towers

  1. You inspired me to grill some eggplant but I didn’t get enough salt off some of them when I brined them (what is that called when you get the bitter juice out of eggplant). I think I’ll mix the them into some spaghetti sauce tonight. It did remind me how easy it is to roast an eggplant and how meaty/satisfying they are – especially with some sliced portobello mushrooms!

    • Eggplant is really one of those amazingly satisfying veggies, isn’t it? I find that when I roast or grill eggplant, I don’t need to salt it first (I think the word I heard was “dégorgé” Sounds way too fancy!). When I’m adding to a stew or sautéing it, then I do salt it and let it sit for half an hour or so before rinsing. Let me know how the spaghetti sauce turns out. 🙂

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