International Eats: Pesto alle Melanzane

Hi Everyone,

So while I’m here in Wiesbaden doing my internship, all my other ICEUS friends are spread out all over the place also doing one.  However, while we were all studying for finals still in Fulda,  I came up with an idea for a new blog series (cuz clearly that was way more interesting than European Law!).

So much of what I have learned here has happened outside of the classroom. Some of this has been in trains, on the streets, in friends’ apartments, and often in the kitchen. Food is something that has definitely brought us all closer this year, whether it was cooking together or eating together, it was always a topic of conversation. I thought I’d take the opportunity to learn directly from my friends and feature it here. My plan is to ask my friends and acquaintances to teach me how to make something from their country, whether traditional cuisine or simply something they love to cook. Then I’ll document it and post it here 🙂

The inspiration and process for this first recipe actually came from a German friend of mine and encompasses many of my experiences here. She found a jar of Pesto alle Malanzane while we were in Brussels (I guess you can’t buy it in Germany) and asked our Italian friend if she knew how to make it. Turns out, she had never even heard of it, so she researched it and found a ton of recipes. The three of us then met up and experimented with the recipes.

Since this day was all about experimentation and we didn’t measure anything, I don’t have a precise recipe for you, but I do have approximations and can assure you that it’s really easy.

Pesto alle Melanzane
serves 4-6
2 eggplants + coarsely ground salt
5 cloves garlic
5T olive oil
1/3c- 1/2c pine nuts, plus more for garnish
1/2t-2t crushed red pepper (depending on how spicy you want it)
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 fresh basil leaves, plus more to garnish
fresh tomatoes, chopped (optional)
freshly grated parmesan (optional)
pasta, my Italian friend recommends rotini, and she’s Italian, so she knows what she’s talking about when it comes to pasta 😉

So if you feel like being super on top of things, you can do this first step the night before. And if you’re like us and didn’t plan quite that far in advance, don’t worry, it will still taste great.

Peel and slice each garlic clove in half. Mix with the olive oil and set aside for at least half an hour.

Next, slice the eggplant into thin slices.

Put a layer of eggplant into a colander and sprinkle with salt. Repeat with the remaining eggplant. Set aside for 10-15 minutes. This removes the extra moisture and bitterness from the eggplant.

In the meantime, pour yourself a glass of wine and take a moment to enjoy the fresh basil from the farmers’ market. This step is crucial.

Heat up a few tablespoons of olive over medium heat (we used two pans so it’d go faste). With a paper towel, wipe the salt and excess water from the eggplant and add to pan. Cook for about 2-3 minutes on each side until soft and light brown. In the meantime, set aside a plate covered with paper towels to place the finished eggplant. This is also a good time to start the pasta water.

Once your eggplant is all done, combine it with the garlic oil, fresh basil, pine nuts, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper in a food processor or blender. Serve over pasta with some chopped tomatoes, fresh basil and freshly ground parmesan.

Next up is Spanish paella and when my friend is back from Singapore, homemade soy milk!

Enjoy!

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