Brinjal (Aubergine/Eggplant) Walnut Pesto and Butternut Spaghetti with Roasted Tomatoes

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Spiralized Butternut Spaghetti……finally !!!!  Do you know how long I have wanted to do a Butternut Spaghetti meal? Well, let’s just say…a l-o-n-g time ! and, you are going to love this one….

Firstly, it is incredibly easy.  Secondly, it is extremely tasty, and…Thirdly, you just need to make this.

This pesto, is my everything right now. I mean,who would have thought that a brinjal (sorry I am using the name I use for it here in this country) pesto would be so incredible awesome?….. Me !  because I love nuts and anything with nuts IS awesome !!! By the way, if you don’t have walnuts, I am sure any nut will be equally as great…it is just that I had ….Ummmmm…a fair amount of walnuts, so walnuts have been going into EVERYTHING 🙂

So, here goes.

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Brinjal (Aubergine/Eggplant) Walnut Pesto and Butternut Spaghetti with Roasted Tomatoes

Preparation time:  15 minutes

Cooking time:  25 – 30 minutes

Total time:  40 – 45 minutes

Serves 4

Ingredients:

For the pesto:  

1 medium-sized (approximately 400 grams) brinjal (Aubergine/Eggplant)

6 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 teaspoons white vinegar or white wine vinegar

1/2 – 1 cup of dry toasted walnuts, chopped

1/4 cup packed basil leaves, chopped

1 – 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped (depending on size)

salt and pepper to taste

Makes  just over one  cup of Pesto 

approximately 800 – 900 grams uncooked spiralized butternut spaghetti (for the best results, please use the largest, thickest blade you have on your spiralizer).

approximately 350 grams tomatoes of your choice (I used exotic tomatoes and cherry tomatoes, cut in half).

Instructions:

Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius / 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

To make the Pesto:  Cut the brinjal in half, lightly drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Put the brinjal in the heated oven and roast for about 25/30 minutes or until done. Then remove from the oven.  Scoop out the insides and discard the skin. Allow to cool. Place the cooled flesh of the brinjal into a food processor and add all the other ingredients.  Process until the consistency you like and taste and add more salt or pepper if necessary. If you find that you would like a thinner consistency, by all means add another tablespoon or two of olive oil .

In the meantime, place the spiralized butternut onto a couple of baking sheets. You may want to just get a knife and cut the spiralized butternut pieces a little shorter (mine were massively long) so it’s more edible. Drizzle with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Mine took about 8 minutes till it was firm but done. (Try not cook the butternut until it is too soft, as it will just mash up and break when tossing through the pesto.) When done, set aside and keep warm.

Whilst the butternut spaghetti is in the oven roasting, dry toast the walnuts, and roast your tomatoes.

To dry toast the walnuts:  This you do by just adding the dry walnuts to a small frying pan and frequently toss with a wooden spoon.  You do not add any oil to these, as nuts have their own natural oils. Continue to toast until slightly fragrant, and then remove from the stove and set aside.

To roast the tomatoes:  Place the tomatoes (cut side down if you cut them in half) on a baking sheet, drizzle the tomatoes with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place in the pre-heated oven and allow to roast till the tomatoes pop in the oven and look a bit wrinkled.

Once everything is done, serve hot.  Add more cherry tomatoes and fresh basil leaves for garnish.

Enjoy 🙂

NB*  For the pesto: If you do not have a food processor and will be using a blender, you may want to use a pestle and mortar and break the nuts up more.

Also, quantities do not have to be the same and can vary. (That is what I like about pesto’s, you can make it your own)

 

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Brinjal (Aubergine/Eggplant) Bake

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Okay….So, I know this is not the prettiest dish to take pics with, but seriously try and put the not so prettiness aside, and try this dish. You will never look back, or I didn’t, trust me.

I had brinjal bake years ago.   Our neighbour (a sweet little lady) from the apartment block where we were staying popped over to visit one night with a brinjal bake.  (Super kind, and super sweet don’t you think?)  Anyway, I had never had a brinjal bake before in my life and I absolutely fell in love with the dish immediately (because I am a veggie freak!).  As much as I loved the dish, I never plucked up the courage to ask this lady what the recipe was (those were my very shy days).  Eighteen months later we left the apartment and life moved on.  Years later, once my parents passed, we moved into the house where my brother and I grew up, and I created the most magnificent herb garden with a few vegetables.  Well, the brinjals excelled and managed to escape being eaten by bugs. We ended up with so many brinjals, and I remembered the brinjal bake from the little lady…. So the brinjal bake, (not that I really knew what I was doing), was done over and over again, but my version, as I could remember.  It was totally divine but, eventually apart from us all practically looking like brinjal bake, the hubby said, please no more.  So, I stopped making brinjal bake sadly 😦 , but… I must admit I did pretty much over kill the dish… Anyway the definite need for brinjal bake occurred yet again recently, and so here it is….I am not saying it is the real deal that I had, the very first time, but this is ‘my real deal’ and to me, it tastes exactly as it did that very first time.

This dish could be considered a little time consuming, but really the time consuming part comes in with the actual frying of the individual brinjal slices. I am not really one for frying, but I have tried baking the brinjal slices, but somehow have not mastered the art of baking brinjal slices yet…and somehow find that the dish just does not come together nicely, so forget the fat content, and the calories and whatever and just give it a gentle fry…our bodies need a bit of fat anyway…It’s not that bad really, it gets drained off anyway with paper towel…, and it is not like the brinjal slices are literally soaking and swimming in oil when they are frying…

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Another aspect is, is soaking the brinjals necessary or not? Some say yes, and some say no.  Well, I just do.  I usually soak the sliced brinjals in salted water, doing it this way supposedly draws the bitterness out from the brinjal, and also I believe, helps the brinjals not to absorb too much oil if frying.

The layering part is awesome, then it’s a matter of throwing it in the oven and then waiting for this baby to cook.  I am ridiculous, it literally comes from the oven and I am there with my spoon….blowing like an idiot for it to cool down… I know… I know, there just is no hope !

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This is such a great dish.  It is wonderful, simply on its own or as a vegetable side dish.

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Brinjal(Aubergine/Eggplant)Bake

Preparation time:  30 minutes (soak time)

Cooking time:  1 hour 15 minutes (including frying time and oven baking time)

Total time:  1 hour 45 minutes

Serves 4 -6

Ingredients:

approximately 560 gram sliced brinjal

flour for coating

a little vegetable oil for frying

410 gram tin of onion and tomato mix

200 – 220 gram grated matured cheddar cheese (use more cheese if you want)

a handful of fresh basil, and/or dried sweet basil

Instructions:

Soak the sliced brinjals in salted water for 30 minutes.

Drain on paper towels.

Coat the brinjal slices thoroughly with flour.

Fry in a little oil.  Keep topping up the oil when necessary.  This will be done in batches, depending on the size of your frying pan.

Once fried on both sides, place on fresh paper towels to drain any excess oil. Try and drain off as much oil as possible.

Then, in an oven proof dish (approximately  21 x 21 centimeters /8.25 x 8.25 inches  in size), lay some brinjal slices to cover the bottom of the dish.

Next, cover the layer of brinjal with a layer of the onion and tomato mix.

Following, cut up some fresh sweet basil and place on top of the tomato mix. (If you don’t have fresh, the dried sweet basil, will be fine, sometimes I use both!)

Continue these three layers.

Top with loads of grated matured cheddar cheese, the more the merrier.

Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until the cheese is turning golden brown.  If it is not bubbling by now, turn the oven on grill, and watch carefully as it will burn quickly.  Let the cheese bubble.  Remove from the oven.

Enjoy 🙂