Crispy Eggplant with Kale Pesto Fettuccine

Say “pesto,” and many people automatically will think of the classic combination of Italian basil, crushed garlic and European pine nuts blended with Parmigiano-Reggiano and olive oil. That doesn’t mean you can’t be creative with other ingredients.

This tasty alternative adds chopped kale and walnuts to the mix, which adds a bright, herby punch to any dish. Here it’s paired with crispy, oven-baked eggplant and long, flat pasta.

Pesto is so easy to whip up, it’s a good idea to make a double batch. It can be stored, covered with plastic, in the refrigerator for up to seven days or in the freezer for three months.

Crispy Eggplant with Kale Pesto Fettuccine

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1 egg

1 cup panko breadcrumbs, crushed

4 tablespoons grated Parmesan, plus more to serve

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

1 teaspoon dried shallots, crushed

1 eggplant, sliced into 1/2-inch thick coins

2 tablespoons olive oil

10 1/2 ounces fettucine or tagliatelle

Herby Kale Pesto (recipe follows) or 5 ounces store-bought pesto

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place flour in a shallow bowl. In another shallow bowl whisk the egg with 1/4 cup water. In third bowl, mix breadcrumbs with Parmesan and other spices.

Dip both sides of eggplant slices first in flour then in egg and finally in breadcrumbs. Lay on baking tray and drizzle or spray with olive oil. Bake for 10 minutes, flip over and then bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes until golden brown and crisp.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot filled with salted, boiling water according to instructions on the box. Drain pasta and stir in pesto. Serve with baked eggplant and more Parmesan.

Serves 4.

— Adapted from “Everyday Delicious: Super Tasty Breakfasts, Brunches, Mains, Desserts & Snacks” by Izy Hossack (Hardie Grant, $29.99)

Herby Kale Pesto

1 lemon

1 garlic clove, peeled and minced

31/2 ounces kale, chopped

Large handful basil leaves

4 tablespoons olive oil, or more to desired consistency

2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Large pinch of salt

1 ounce walnut halves

Zest lemon and cut in half. Add juice of one half to the bowl of a food processor with zest. Add minced garlic and remaining ingredients. Blend until a paste forms. Use immediately or store in a lidded container in fridge or freezer.

Makes 6 ounces.

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