More from Simon Hopkinson, whose new book, The Vegetarian Option (Stewart, Tabori & Chang), was Sybil Pratt's Cookbook of the Month for June. This recipe mixes meaty eggplant with fresh pesto, a flavor combo that's hard to beat.

Broiled eggplant with pesto


Serves 2

An old favorite, which I could not resist including here.

INGREDIENTS
1 large eggplant
about 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons pine nuts
a large bunch of basil
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
3 tablespoons freshly grated pecorino or Parmesan
½ lemon, to serve

INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Cut the eggplant lengthwise in half, through the stalk. Using a small, sharp knife, make a crisscross pattern across the cut surfaces, to a depth of about 3/4 inch. Brush with a little of the olive oil and season. Bake in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes. The flesh should be very soft.

Meanwhile, lightly toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet, then remove from the skillet and cool. Process the basil, garlic, and pine nuts, together with a little salt and pepper, to a paste in a food processor (or use a mortar and pestle for a more authentic result). Now add enough of the olive oil to produce a loose-textured purée.

Finally, briefly mix in the cheese. Spread the pesto over the scored surfaces of the eggplant and broil until golden and bubbling. Serve with a squeeze of lemon.

Reprinted from The Vegetarian Option by Simon Hopkinson. Copyright (c) 2010. Published by Stewart, Tabori & Chang.

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