Roasted Eggplant Pesto

by on June 30, 2010
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Roasted Eggplant Pesto

This week on the FatFreeVegan Facebook page, I’ve been offering my suggestions for Fourth of July dishes–salads that transport well, veggie burgers you can make ahead and heat on the grill, etc.  You can add a pasta salad tossed with this aromatic pesto to the list of foods you can bring and that everyone–vegan and non-vegan, health enthusiasts and hedonists–will enjoy.

Traditional pesto combines basil with olive oil and, often, cheese, and vegan versions usually replace the cheese with nuts but keep the olive oil.   As an oil-free vegan (OFV), I’m constantly looking for new ways to get the zesty basil and garlic flavor of pesto without the olive oil.  I’ve made pesto with silken tofu, asparagus, white beans, and artichokes instead of oil with varying levels of success (asparagus is the prettiest, artichoke is the least flavorful), but I think I’ve hit on a new favorite.  Though not the most attractive oil-alternative, roasted eggplant gives this pesto a hint of smoky flavor without overwhelming the other ingredients and makes a sauce whose consistency is more like traditional pesto than any of my other versions.  Ground almonds and a little nutritional yeast supply a hint of cheesiness, and sun-dried tomatoes add a bright, tangy spark of flavor.

The recipe makes a good bit, so plan to use it for several days in different ways.  Add it to pasta and toss in fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, and other vegetables for a delicious pasta salad that you can serve cold or at room temperature.  It’s also a delicious spread for bread; spread it on a hearty whole-grain bread as a substitute for garlic bread or to perk up a sandwich (try it with Italian sausages–you will not be disappointed!)  And this may sound odd, but I tossed a little with some chickpeas for a tasty, albeit messy, snack.  A little goes a long way, so don’t be afraid to freeze the leftovers for later use.
 

Roasted Eggplant Pesto


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{ 77 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jenny June 30, 2010 at 1:38 pm

That looks yummy. My son wants to buy an eggplant every single time we are at the grocery store. I usually say “no” because I’m not very good at using them. Or if I buy them, they go bad. This would be the perfect way to use one for me.

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2 Maria June 30, 2010 at 1:54 pm

Bless you! My CSA basket had an eggplant, and a boatload of basil. While I had some ideas for the basil, I was at a loss as to what to do with the eggplant. Thanks for the timely rescue.

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3 Sandra June 30, 2010 at 1:55 pm

Yes, I will stop wondering what I am going to do with this eggplant I have had for a week. I think I will put it on pizza dough and layer sliced vegetables over it! Thanks!

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4 Kricky June 22, 2013 at 9:21 am

Sandra, did you ever try this on pizza?

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5 Erin June 30, 2010 at 2:41 pm

This sounds delicious! I never know what to do with eggplants from my CSA.

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6 Amber Shea @Almost Vegan June 30, 2010 at 3:36 pm

Oh, this looks DELICIOUS! I love the romesco-esque touch of the ground almonds. Yum!!

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7 Chupa Babi June 30, 2010 at 4:23 pm

Susan – another winner for the pesto file. May I share this with my yahoo! (with attribution of course)?

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8 Jacqueline June 30, 2010 at 4:55 pm

Mmmmmmmmmmm, lovely, although I would probably overload the pasta with it, it looks lush :)

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9 Tiffany June 30, 2010 at 5:21 pm

Uh YUM. I would not have thought to use eggplant in pesto, but clearly I’m loving the idea. Thanks for sharing!

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10 moonwatcher June 30, 2010 at 5:43 pm

This sounds wonderful, Susan! I will look forward to trying it. Happy Fourth!

xo

moonwatcher

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11 Stefanie June 30, 2010 at 9:57 pm

This looks and sounds really good. Is there an alternative to the basil? I’m not a big basil fan but may have to give it a try anyway. Thank you. :-)

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12 Kara July 1, 2010 at 2:26 am

This is a very tasty way to spice up pasta. My husband and I like a little kick to our pasta and don’t like nutritional yeast, so here is how I modified your excellent recipe for eggplant pesto. Instead of almonds, I substituted ~ 2 Tbsp of toasted pine nuts, added some dried red pepper flakes, and 4 cloves of garlic. A whir in the blender with the roasted eggplant and basil, then tossed it with pasta. For our tastes, we like a little more pesto than pasta and so the 8 servings were really 4.

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13 Ellen @ I Am Gluten Free July 1, 2010 at 7:35 am

What great 4th of July picnic fare! I bet it’s delicious cold. I’m thinking about slathering over roasted potatoes or making cold potato salad. What do you think? Thanks for the great recipe! And it’s gluten free, to boot!

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14 SusanV July 1, 2010 at 8:08 am

I think either of those ideas would be delicious. Happy 4th!

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15 Ann July 1, 2010 at 8:07 am

Awsome I have a ton of eggplant from my garden I was trying to find something new to do with. If nothing else I can make this and freeze it.

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16 Leila July 1, 2010 at 1:41 pm

This looks absolutely delicious! I love eggplant and basil. I’ll have to try this! I’ll bet it’s incredible on pizza too.

I recently used a few tablespoons of soy yogurt in lieu of oil to make my lower-fat vegan pesto creamier. That worked well too and didn’t hugely change the flavor profile. The recipe is on my blog right now.

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17 Cara July 1, 2010 at 3:42 pm

I make an almost-fat-free pesto using fresh tomatoes in place of the oil (along with basil, garlic, a small amount of toasted pine nuts, and a splash of lemon juice.) But I love eggplant so I’m interested in trying this spin too!

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18 Stephanie July 2, 2010 at 1:21 am

Awesome recipe! This is a great alternative to pesto made with oil. I added a few more sundried tomatoes and used it to sauce spaghetti squash. I also used it as a spread on bread and I can see how spreading it in a cracker would make an excellent snack! Susan, you’ve done it again!

The serving size rang true with me (and I’m a big eater) so the caloric information is accurate for a meal.

Thanks again for all of your wonderful oil free vegan recipes!

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19 Stacey@http://stacey-healthylife.blogspot.com/ July 2, 2010 at 7:45 pm

I could think of so many ways to use this pesto, yum.

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20 Kip July 3, 2010 at 4:14 am

Looks delicious! Aubergine is one of my favourite vegetables and aubergine pestos I have in the past have been fabulous. Will def give this a go!

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21 BlessedMama July 3, 2010 at 10:42 am

Sounds great – I love recipes that make a lot of food that I can reuse in leftovers. Thanks for the ideas.

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22 kitchenetta July 4, 2010 at 7:59 pm

Sounds just delicious! I’ll be trying this soon.

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23 Scrumptious July 5, 2010 at 2:58 pm

This looks fabulous! I love all kinds of things made with roasted eggplant, like caponata and eggplant caviar. I will definitely be bookmarking this to make in the future. I’ve also never roasted eggplant without oil, so this is quite inspiring!

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24 Lea July 5, 2010 at 7:24 pm

I made this today and toasted up some ciabatta bread to spread it on. I didn’t use sundried tomatoes and it was still yummy! Do you think I can freeze some of this, since I’m the only one in the house that will eat it?

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25 SusanV July 5, 2010 at 8:04 pm

I don’t see why it wouldn’t freeze well. Glad you enjoyed it!

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26 Farnoosh July 5, 2010 at 7:48 pm

Finishing up Day 5 of being vegan and your website has been a fabulous find. I can’t WAIT to try this fantastic recipe, thank you so much!!!
Please keep it up, I’ll be back for more! :)

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27 ronelmarin.net July 7, 2010 at 3:28 am

oh my goodness im craving for it now..throw me some here..:) thanks for the recipe ..:)

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28 Maija Haavisto July 7, 2010 at 4:47 am

Could there be a better vehicle for eggplant than baba ghanoush? I have my doubts whether anything can overtake the match made in heaven, but I’m willing to develop a new love affair! At least it has everything good – eggplant, almonds, sundried tomatoes, garlic, and basil.

(And some day, my picky omnivore partner WILL eat eggplant!)

I wonder if you ever add balsamic vinegar to your pesto? It’s an idea I got from some vegan cookbook (Vegan Brunch I think?) and IMO it works well.

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29 Trudy ~ veggie num num July 7, 2010 at 5:17 pm

I adore roasted eggplant and this recipe looks like a wonderful simple way to enjoy it’s lovely smoky flavour… it really doesn’t need oil does it.. I usually just roast the eggplant whole in the oven and it turns out so soft and full of flavour.. perfect for use in so many dishes… will be trying this for sure mmmm pesto and vegan YUM!

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30 Dana Zia July 7, 2010 at 11:00 pm

Already printed it out and am going to make it as soon as I can get my hands on an eggplant! Looks divine! Your photography is amazing! Stunning! Great job. Thanks for sharing.

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31 Karina July 8, 2010 at 1:42 am

I adore eggplant tapenade- and like your idea of adding almonds to roasted eggplant to make a pesto. Brilliant. I’ll be trying this! Thanks, Susan.

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32 Lippy July 8, 2010 at 11:54 am

I guess I don’t much see the point in taking out a heart-healthy fat in exchange for the nutrionally-vague eggplant. I’d also swap out the almonds for walnuts, lightly toasted in a skillet. But that’s just me.

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33 SusanV July 8, 2010 at 12:45 pm

There’s nothing heart-healthy about olive oil, quite the opposite. And at least eggplant is a whole food.

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34 veghunter July 8, 2010 at 4:30 pm

hey great blog, enjoyed looking around. recently started my own if you would like take a look at http://www.veghunter.wordpress.com
keep up the great work!

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35 Maureen July 10, 2010 at 1:02 pm

I cannot wait to try this! I’m about to have more eggplant (from the garden) than I know what to do with!

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36 katie July 12, 2010 at 7:15 am

Thanks so much for this recipe! I had a housewarming party and made this as a dip and it was a HUGE hit!!! And NO ONE believed me that it was vegan and so low in fat and calories!! I’m already getting ready to make another batch to leave in my refrigerator as a snack :)

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37 Angela July 13, 2010 at 3:43 pm

Just made this for lunch-YUMMY!!
and I forgot to soak the almonds but still
deeelisiocio!!
I really love your blog-I’m not even vegan but I my friends
are. I always go to your blog for receipes so I can see what I can
cook for my friends. So thank you!!!

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38 JoLynn-dreaminitvegan July 13, 2010 at 9:40 pm

This looks wonderful!

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39 babymama August 13, 2010 at 12:01 pm

Thanks for posting an oil-free recipe.
I am in transition to become a vegan especially for the health benefits.
It doesn’t make sense to me to switch diet if i am still eating badly incorporating oil in every single dishes.

And it is not going to get me back in shape after the birth of my son three months ago. I am presently following Dr. Furhman Eat to Live diet.He advocates the less oil as possible. There is a few recipes. I got lucky today to fall on your blog. It makes it easy to keep going on a heart-healthy diet.
I cannot wait to see the changes a vegan oil-free diet will do to my silhouette and my energy level.
Will try your eggplant pesto soon.
Cheers!

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40 helen August 13, 2010 at 3:31 pm

This sounds great! Any estimation as to the total amount the recipe made? Are you considering 1 tbsp as a serving, therefore yielding 1/2 cup?

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41 SusanV August 13, 2010 at 3:36 pm

It will really depend on the size of the eggplant you use, but when I made it, the whole recipe yielded around 2 cups, so a serving was about 1/4 cup.

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42 lani June 28, 2013 at 11:21 am

susan, that kind of information is really helpful . In creating recipes, it helps to say if serves 6 =1.25 cups or 2 cups etc..Perhaps you could add in future recipes

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43 Susan Voisin June 28, 2014 at 10:14 am

The problem is, the info would be inaccurate. No matter how many cups it comes out to be when I make it, it would be different for everyone else making the recipe. Produce size varies and just cooking something for a different amount of time creates more or less liquid volume. People ask all the time for the exact amount a recipe makes, but I don’t provide it because it would be a very inaccurate estimate.

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44 MS August 24, 2010 at 7:41 pm

Sounds yummy! Printing recipe now! Love pesto and like this spin on it.
thanx.

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45 Miss K September 6, 2010 at 4:09 pm

I made this for lunch yesterday and while it turned out great, I could still taste a little bit of the bitterness of the eggplant in the pesto. Do you think salting it and letting it sit for a while before roasting it would help?

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46 SusanV September 6, 2010 at 4:18 pm

Some eggplants are more bitter than others, and salting will usually help, but that mostly works for eggplant that has been sliced or chopped before cooking. Something else you can try: If you notice that your eggplant has a lot of seeds once it’s roasted, scrape out the seeds and discard them. They’re the cause of a lot of the bitterness.

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47 Kat September 11, 2010 at 7:00 pm

This turned out great! We added a pinch of paprika to spice it up a bit, and next time we might add an extra sun dried tomato or some lemon juice to give it some more tang. I might leave out the nut yeast to sprinkle on after as I find I want to put more salt on my food when I use it.

I think this would be awesome as a layer in lasagna.

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48 Julie September 13, 2010 at 7:59 am

Because of you, my husband’s new favorite veggie is eggplant so thank you, thank you, thank you! Between this and the eggplant parmesan, he apparently doesn’t need anything else in his life. :)

We found some chili flavored spaghetti to use with this and it turned out perfectly with a nice little kick.

Thanks again!

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49 Jessica September 25, 2010 at 1:29 pm

Susan! This is the most amazing thing I’ve tried from your blog! I’ve tried quite a bit but this tops all.. scrumptious! Thank you.. amazing creativity.

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50 Laura October 1, 2010 at 10:43 am

I actually like this way better than the oil based recipe I use, and now I can have pesto more often (and I LOVE it) because it’s not a fat+carb calorie super bomb. Thank you!

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51 Cook 4 Vegan Family October 9, 2010 at 9:58 am

We decided to have basil planted in several containers this summer. I was amazed at how much basil those plants produced! We made this recipe several times and LOVED it each time. I even turned my mom onto this recipe. Great idea with the roasted eggplant.

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52 Marinda Bush January 18, 2011 at 12:05 pm

Hello Susan, I am a regular reader and love almost every one of your recipes I try. I have a private blog where occasionally I post about foods or recipes I love (along with many other topics) When I use your recipes I’ve included the link – is that okay with you? I don’t post the actual recipe or photo, just send the readers (friends and family) to your sight. I just want to make sure that follows your copy right rules.

Thanks,
Marinda

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53 SusanV January 18, 2011 at 12:20 pm

That’s perfect, Marinda! Thanks for taking the time to ask!

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54 Pasha May 14, 2011 at 2:39 pm

I made this yesterday and it’s delicious! Thanks Susan, flawless as ever!! My usual pesto is a flax meal, cilantro, garlic, lemon juice and pumpkin seed affair with a bit of s+p and some nooch – it’s great for dipping, on bread and on top of soup but it has never quite hit the spot as a traditional pasta sauce. This does!! Ta very much ;-)

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55 eva @5fruitsNveggies June 30, 2011 at 7:48 pm

just made your roasted eggplant pesto…it was perfect on top of raw spiralized zucchini…i only soaked the almonds about an hour and it worked fine…just wondering why they needed to soak 2 hours or overnight?…i added more than 2 sun-dried tomatoes since i love them…all in all, easy, fast and even my carnivore, carb-less husband loved this meal….now just need to try on the kids!

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56 Elandryl July 9, 2011 at 1:34 pm

I loved it! Than you so much!
I personally didn’t put the yeast (It is not common where I live , I couldn’t find it) and added only half a clove of garlic since it comes from my yard and it’s super strong this year. I also added a couple of fresh peppermint and lemon balm leaves from my tiny spice garden and used spiced salt in order to put less of it and give it a little bit more sting.
Since I don’t write often I also wanted to tell you that I love your website! I foud so many good recipies in it! The only problem with your site, and in general with American ones, is to convert everything into grams because is soo much time consuming and hard to get it right.
If it was in ouces it would be much easier to convert but unfortunately “cups and spoons”, especially for nuts or non-liquid things, are different for every single item and sometimes I honestly don’t know how you people manage to know how you measure how much of every ingredient.
If there’s a secret easy way out of it please let me know! (I don’t mean it sarcastically, any help is really appreciated to understand it better!)
Thank you again!

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57 Quirky Eats March 20, 2012 at 1:45 am

Susan, I’m an eggplant-lover like you, and an especially big fan of fire-roasted ones. Thought I’d share this roasted eggplant pesto I created. It’s loaded with cilantro and really good as a dip.
http://quirkyeats.posterous.com/roasted-eggplant-cilantro-pesto-16513

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58 Tracy O August 2, 2012 at 2:26 pm

OK, yum!
Used my home-grown eggplant and tomatoes (dehydrated)
Made it with pepitas since I didn’t have any almonds.
Threw in an extra clove of garlic, because that’s how I roll!
Turned out great!
Thank you!!
Tracy
Newbury Park, CA

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59 May November 12, 2012 at 5:53 pm

This was incredible, I just made it and the taste is heavenly. I love how we end up eating raw garlic which is so healthy.
I translated to portuguese and wanted to know if it’s okay to share with your link to this post, thank you for creating this. My husband will be so surprised.

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60 Julia March 18, 2013 at 3:10 am

Hi,
I love your recipes, this website is wonderful.
another idea for pesto, if you haven’t tried already, is green peas,
the green is quite fluorescent, but it has a great flavor and is a good replacement
for the olive oil.

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61 Crystal June 27, 2013 at 7:30 pm

This sounds so yummy! I’m excited to try it this weekend. I am allergic to almonds so I was wondering if you think cashews would work in place of almonds…

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62 Susan Voisin June 27, 2013 at 7:53 pm

Yes, I think cashews or any other nut could be used, and you shouldn’t have to soak them. Hope you enjoy it!

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63 Crystal July 18, 2013 at 1:10 pm

The cashews worked and it was amazing! Thanks!

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64 Kelsey M June 28, 2013 at 11:40 am

Wow this looks amazing! I’m definitely buying eggplant next time I go grocery shopping so I can make this asap~

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65 jmacdona2 January 27, 2014 at 6:29 am

And what exactly is a “large” eggplant? In today’s cooking arena, recipes are usually more specific, aren’t they? Pounds, ounces, grams, cups, etc. Please!

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66 Susan Voisin January 27, 2014 at 7:32 am

It won’t really matter if your eggplant is a few ounces bigger or smaller than the one I used. Just choose the largest one you can find.

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67 jmacdona2 January 27, 2014 at 7:08 am

Sorry to seem so dense. I’m a new vegan and not used to cooking with some of these foods. When you say “one sun-dried tomato”, do you mean one strip (that’s how I seem them on the salad bars and in jars) or one whole tomato, sun-dried?

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68 Susan Voisin January 27, 2014 at 7:25 am

One whole tomato, sun-dried, the kind in the plastic bags, not the oil-packed kind in jars.

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69 Jem January 27, 2014 at 12:38 pm

I bought a bag (never saw that before!). Each piece is quite little, about 1-1/2 inches long and looks like it’s one side or piece of a tomato.

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70 Susan Voisin January 27, 2014 at 12:51 pm

If they’re small, you could use four of them. If they feel very tough and leathery, soak them in warm water first. The kind I buy are soft, but I’ve seen others that are small and tough and need soaking.

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71 jmacdona2 January 27, 2014 at 12:33 pm

Geesh, I feel stupid. Almonds……raw, roasted? I assume not salted. With/without skins?

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72 Susan Voisin January 27, 2014 at 12:37 pm

Raw, with skins, unsalted. Sorry to have been so unclear. Are you new to this way of eating? You’re making me see that I shouldn’t presume we all are used to eating and cooking this way.

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73 Jem January 27, 2014 at 12:45 pm

Oh yes. VERY new! I have an eggplant in the oven right now but I have a feeling it’s too large for a half recipe. I never bought an eggplant before and the ones in the store ranged from huge to baby-sized. I found on the internet that 1 cup of basil was about 20 gms and that what I have to work with right now, so I figured I’d make 1/2 recipe with it.
I’m enjoying learning all of this new stuff and experimenting in the kitchen again. I’m over 70 yrs old and have always been an Eastern European cook — with meat/potatoes or noodle dishes. Lots of dairy, etc. And my arthritis is already improving! Thank you for your help.

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74 Susan Voisin January 27, 2014 at 12:53 pm

That’s wonderful! I’m happy to help in any way. Thanks for your help in making my recipes more specific.

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75 Jem January 27, 2014 at 7:10 pm

Thank you for such a wonderful site. I have already made 3-4 of your recipes and they are wonderful. I can tell this will be my “go to” site for good food!

76 Susan Simon June 29, 2014 at 6:30 pm

OMG. I just made this. I blackened the eggplant over my gas stove for about 10 minutes and let them cool and peeled the skin off. Then followed the directions, although I’m guessing that I processed it a little too finely in my Vitamix. But the taste is scrumptious. This will be great on pizza and on steamed veggies and maybe even salad. So so so so so so good. Thank you Susan!

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77 KK July 12, 2014 at 8:07 pm

This was fabulous. Thank you!

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