Eggplant and Beet Stack with a Dill and Almond Pesto
This year spring has been a little late in coming but at long last it looks like it is just round the corner. I am anxiously looking forward to my herb garden springing back into action. This morning I checked on my mint patch and saw that the tiny leaves have started to peek out of the ground. This always puts me in a good mood because I love to cook with fresh herbs. In anticipation of the bonanza of flavors that awaits me with the onset of spring I went and bought a huge bunch of fresh dill from the local farmer’s market and used it to make a pesto with almonds. Since I am trying to avoid wheat or wheat products, I couldn’t use this pesto on any pasta dish and so I used it as the sauce in my layered Eggplant and Beet stack. No, this is not any standard recipe – I just used whatever I had in my refrigerator to make a vegetarian entrée. Even though it had no meat it in, it turned out to be pretty substantial and filling and the dill pesto added a lot of freshness and flavor to it! It could be used as an appetizer or even as a meal in itself because it was a nutritionally balanced dish with protein from the fresh Mozzarella and plenty of vitamin and fiber coming from the beets and eggplant.
1. One medium firm eggplant
2. One medium sized boiled beet
3. One ball of fresh Mozzarella
4. 2-3 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
5. 18-20 roasted almonds
6. A bunch of fresh dill
7. One lemon
8. 1 teaspoon of sugar
9. Salt to taste
10. ¼ teaspoon of red pepper flakes
11. 2 cloves of garlic
12. 2 tablespoons of Greek Yogurt
13. 2 tablespoons of Moong Daal Namkeen (this added a crunchy element to the dish, if you can’t find these, use a few crumbled Kettle Potato chips)
1. Slice the eggplant into round slices about 1/3 of an inch thick.
2. In a nonstick pan, pour ½ tablespoon of olive oil and heat it on medium heat.
3. When the oil is hot, place the eggplant slices into the pan and let them cook on low heat. Flip the slices when one side looks soft and cooked. Sprinkle some salt and chili flakes on the eggplant slices and continue cooking them. If you need more oil, pour a little bit more at a time – this may be necessary since eggplants tend to soak up oil. Cook all the slices – depending on the size of your cooking pan, you may need to do this in batches.
4. While the eggplant slices are cooking, make the pesto by putting the following ingredients in a small food processor: almonds, one tablespoon of olive oil, a big bunch of fresh dill, the juice of one lemon, salt, sugar, two cloves of garlic, one tablespoon of water (or a little more).
5. Grind all the contents of the food processor into a coarse pesto.
6. Peel and slice the beet. The slices should be the same thickness at the eggplant slices.
7. Also slice the mozzarella into circles about the same thickness as the eggplant slices.
8. When the eggplant slices are cooked completely, start to make a stack.
9. Place one slice of eggplant at the bottom and smear about 1/3 of tablespoon of the pesto on it.
10. Lay down a slice of the beet and smear more pesto one.
11. Then lay down a slice of the mozzarella and smear pesto on it.
12. Lastly lay down another layer of eggplant on top.
13. Garnish with the crispy Moong daal Namkeen or potato chips on top and then a sprig of fresh dill on top of the stack.
14. Make more stacks in the same fashion and serve them immediately (or the crunch on top gets soggy).