I’m that person who scrolls through photos and recipes, reads books like novels, and has a slight obsession with food. When I saw a picture of a beautiful pasta dish with no accompanying recipe and featured pesto, tomato sauce, and eggplant, I knew I had to make it. Although I cannot take credit for the original idea, I created elements that work together beautifully and can be used independently. The smoky sauce can be used on baked vegetables, Parmesan, or with sausages, caramelized onion, and mashed potato; pesto is excellent on tofu or chicken; eggplant goes well with flatbread and burrata. Both the tomato sauce and pesto freeze well. So, while you’re making this dish, make extras and store them in the freezer to use at a later date.
Yes, we are on the West Coast. The month of January is chilly and wet. But that doesn’t stop us from firing up the grill. It’s easy to achieve that smoky taste without a smoker.
Making the sauce a day or two before eating it is best. This will allow the flavors to blend and combine, making them more prosperous and delicious.
Carrot Top Pesto
This recipe makes 2 cups
Fresh basil leaves packed in 2 cups
Green carrot tops stems, and tough leaves were removed. 1 cup.
1 Garlic clove
Red miso paste, 2 Tbsp
Lemon juice, 1 Tbsp
Half a cup of toasted walnuts
1/4 cup olive oil Sea Salt and freshly ground pepper
Put all ingredients in a food processor. Pulse until well combined, but with a bit of texture. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper. The miso should already be salted, but you can add more salt to taste.
Smoky Tomato and Eggplant
You can prepare up to two days in advance.
About 5 cups of sauce
Two cups of hickory soaked in water for 20 minutes. Drain.
Three large Roma tomatoes (about 16) halved, with seeds removed.
Peel and halve two medium yellow onions
Five large cloves of garlic, peeled
Cut 4 Chinese or Japanese eggplants diagonally into half-inch slices
Use more than 1/4 cup of olive oil to coat the eggplant
1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
3 cups homemade chicken broth
1/4 cup dry red wine
3 Tbsp tomato paste
Use a pinch of chili flakes or a small amount of hot sauce
Serve grated Parmesan with fresh basil leaves and toasted pin nuts
On one side, turn the heat up on the grill. Oil the side of the grill that is not heated. On the heated side, place hickory chips in a small foil pan. Place tomatoes and onions, cut side up, on the unheated side. Place the garlic cloves in a small piece of tin foil on the unheated side. Close and leave the lid closed for 20 minutes. The vegetables should be softened (onions and garlic will not be fully cooked) and nice and smoky.
Place the eggplants on a large sheet pan covered with parchment paper and sprinkle with salt. Allow to sit for 15 mins, then coat with olive oil using your hands and sprinkle with freshly ground pepper.
Heat both sides of the grill on medium-high. Remove tomatoes, onions, and garlic from the BBQ and place in a large dish. Discard hickory chip. Grill eggplant slices for 2 minutes on each side. Transfer eggplant slices to a large platter after removing them from the heat. If making ahead, cover and refrigerate.
Add tomatoes, garlic, and onions (remove stems if needed) to the bowl of your food processor. Add up to one tablespoon of salt. Start with two teaspoons and taste. If you think it needs more, add more. Remember that this bowl has almost 5 pounds worth of vegetables; they will take it! Pulse until the mixture is well mixed and has a slight texture. Add olive oil to the pot and heat it on low. Sprinkle paprika in the pool and stir it for 20 seconds until you hear a slight sizzle. Pour tomato mixture, add red wine, tomato sauce, chili flakes, or hot sauce, and then pour chicken stock. Stir gently for two hours—season with salt and pepper.