“Pesto” is a dirty word in our apartment.
A certain someone who apparently has the taste buds of a toddler has gotten it into his head that it tastes “too green” for him and so he’ll turn his nose up at pretty much any dish that incorporates it. No matter that the first meal I ever made for him contained pesto and he, in fact, went back for thirds. These days, if he even suspects it’s gone anywhere near his dinner, he’ll barely take two bites.
Given that pesto is pretty much a way of life for me during the summer this is a problem of epic proportions. (To put it lightly.)
So I’ve taken to hiding it in his food without telling him and then giggling when he takes a bite. (And likes it.)
Not only is this a foolproof plan (at least to date) but the sense of satisfaction and self-righteousness I get when he pretty much begs for leftovers the next day is unrivaled.
This eggplant manicotti is one such dish that he wouldn’t have touched with a ten foot pole had he known there was pesto mixed into it’s cheesy interior, but as it was he practically licked his plate clean and then stared at me as if I was the crazy one when I informed him, with admittedly overenthusiastic glee, what that green sauce was.
To his credit, this meal was delicious. The creamy pesto filling is the perfect blend of light herby flavor and creamy cheesy decadence, while the eggplant manicotti shells are substantive and hearty without being heavy the way that pasta can be. All in all, a perfect summer meal. So long as no one mentions the “p” word.
One year ago…White Balsamic Custard Tart with Fresh Berry Topping
Two years ago…Blueberry, Lime and Thyme Pound Cake Muffins, Swiss Chard, Potato and Sorrel Soup with Creme Fraiche, Thai Curried Zucchini Fritters with a Spicy Peanut Sauce
Three years ago…Homemade Linguine with Zucchini, Capers, Lemon, Pine Nuts and Herbs
Four years ago…Spicy Marinated Peanut Chicken
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves
- ½ cup fresh parsley leaves
- ½ cup spinach leaves
- ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
- ¼ cup grated fresh parmesan cheese
- 4 tbsp cream cheese
- ¼ tsp salt
- 15 oz part-skim ricotta
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1½ lb eggplant, cut lengthwise into 20 slices
- cooking spray
- 2 cups marinara sauce (I used the 365 brand roasted red pepper sauce from Whole Foods)
- Combine ½ cup mozzarella, basil, parsley, spinach, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, cream cheese, salt, ricotta, and garlic in a food processor and process until smooth. Set aside.
- Arrange half the eggplant slices (or as many will fit) in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with parchment paper. Broil for 5 minutes or until browned and very tender. Repeat with remaining eggplant.
- Preheat oven to 375.
- Spread 1 cup of marinara sauce on the bottom of a 9x13-inch baking dish. Place the eggplant slices, browned sides down, on a smooth surface. Spoon about 2 tbsp of the pesto filling in the center of each slice. Roll up, starting at the short ends, and place the eggplant rolls, seam sides down, over the sauce. Repeat with remaining eggplant and pesto. If there is any pesto left over, pour it on top of the eggplant rolls. Pour 1 cup marinara sauce over the eggplant rolls. Sprinkle remaining mozzarella evenly over the top.
- Bake for 30 minutes.