I prepared this recipe I don’t even remember how many times, probably six. At the beginning in search of the perfect aubergine caviar, and after because I could never find the time to take a picture of it. The one above was done in ten minutes while my daughter was taking a nap with her father, after washing dishes, cleaning, having a shower and having a snack. Moms have to squeeze lots of tasks in those barely two free hours that they get daily. My respect to all the other moms that do better than me.
First I tried Gordon Ramsay version, which I didn’t like whatsoever, too many flavours in there, punching each other in a dance of bitterness, and that touch of cheese at the end totally killed it for me, in a bad way. I then moved to some Italian food blogger versions (after all this is an Italian recipe, so you may ask why didn’t I check Italian bloggers straight away? Well, I consider myself English -adopted- so I tend to go for English versions first, no matter what I am looking for, my bad), but they all had five ingredients each, aubergine, basil, oil, lemon and salt. If we are here with a pesto caviar you already may guess that the lemon one was not my preferred version either.
I tried different herbs, as mint, coriander and parsley, and I liked the flavour given by the basil, but it lacked something, depth, a savouriness, a punch that I didn’t think the lemon was given. As Italian I love lemons, but I don’t appreciate the habit of putting it everywhere, pasta included (personal tastes I suppose). And, most of all, it was missing crunchiness, something that would remind the popping of the eggs in a real caviar.
So, after trying a version with finely chopped onions as well, I decided to go for pesto. It has basil, It has pine nuts to give crunchiness and that umami something given by the cheese. And not happy I added soy sauce and fish sauce. You can totally skip fish sauce for a vegetarian version, and to be honest you can totally skip soy sauce as well, I just love the saltiness that it gives, which is, of course, different than that given by salt, even more that the salt here in England is not as “salty” as the one from Sardinia that I was used to.
The second reason why it took me so long is that even after having the aubergine pesto caviar ready in the fridge, I didn’t manage to have a free moment to take the picture. A combo of virus intestine infection, flu and baby teething was the cause. My poor baby. So it has been basically two weeks that I have been living on aubergine pesto caviar. I do like it, but with moderation, so today, in desperation, I decided to take the fastest picture ever, just to take it off my mind and don’t have to prep it for a while.
In the recipe I will give my basic recipe for pesto. I don’t use pecorino cheese in it, so if you are purist you can easily substitute and use your own version. For the same reason if you are for mortar and pestle go for it, I cannot be bothered. And for the same reason if you are lucky enough to get your hands on the right basil, basilico Genevese gigante di Pra’, use that.
- 1 garlic clove
- 100 g basil leaves
- 40 g grated parmesan cheese
- 40 g pine nuts
- 100 ml olive oil
- salt to taste
- 1 aubergine
- 1 garlic clove
- 3 tbsp evo oil
- 3 tbsp pesto
- 1 tsp say sauce
- salt and black pepper to taste
- Blend together all the ingredients to prep the pesto and set aside.
- Turn on the oven at 200°C.
- Cut the aubergine in half lengthwise. Criss-cross it with a knife.
- Fit one sliced garlic clove into the cuts, sprinkle with salt, pepper and one tablespoon of oil.
- Put the aubergine back together and wrap it in tin foil, closing very well the sides so the steam doesn't escape.
- Bake it for an hour or until tender and let it cool down completely.
- Scoop the flash out of the aubergine and chop it very fine with a knife.
- Add the rest of the ingredients, adjust salt and pepper and let it rest few hours in the fridge before serving.