Start watching

Tending Nature

Start watching
Southland Sessions

Southland Sessions

Start watching

Earth Focus

Start watching

Reporter Roundup

Start watching
City Rising

City Rising

Start watching
Lost LA

Lost LA

Start watching
Your donation supports our high-quality, inspiring and commercial-free programming.
Support Icon
Learn about the many ways to support KCET.
Support Icon
Contact our Leadership, Advancement, Membership and Special Events teams.

Recipe: Grilled Eggplant with Spicy Lemon Basil Pesto

Support Provided By
Grilled Eggplant with Spicy Lemon Basil Pesto

Take a look around Southern California's gardens, farmers' markets, and Asian grocery stores and you'll see that eggplants come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. This recipe features the Filipino "finger" eggplant, a slender little eggplant harvested around 3 to 6 inches long. These tender fruits grill up in a couple minutes and make a great side dish served with a spicy, Southeast Asian-inspired lemon basil pesto.

If you don't have access to these particular eggplants, feel free to try another variety from China, Japan, Korea, or elsewhere. Larger eggplants may be cut into wedges for easy grilling.

Grilled Eggplant with Spicy Lemon Basil Pesto
Serves 4

1 1/2 cups (packed) fresh lemon basil leaves (or Thai basil)
1/2 cup (packed) fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1/4 cup dry-roasted peanuts
2 teaspoons palm sugar (or brown or granulated sugar)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon soy sauce (can substitute fish sauce)
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots
1 pound finger or Asian eggplants
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped dry roasted peanuts

Combine the basil, parsley, garlic, peanuts, sugar, red pepper flakes, sesame oil, rice vinegar, water, and soy sauce in a food processor. Blend until smooth. Adjust seasonings to taste and blend in a little more water if a thinner consistency is desired. Transfer the pesto to a small bowl and cover the surface with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until ready to use (up to 1 day).

Heat the grapeseed oil in a heavy skillet over moderate heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring frequently, until light golden brown. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shallots to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside to drain (the shallots will crisp up as they cool). Reserve the leftover shallot oil for grilling the eggplants. (Fried shallots are best fresh, but they can be made up to 1 day ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container. Shallot oil can be stored in the refrigerator up to 1 week.)

Prepare an outdoor grill or a grill pan over moderate heat.

If using finger eggplants, halve them lengthwise. If using larger eggplants, cut them into 1-inch wedges. Brush the eggplants on all sides with the shallot oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill the eggplants, turning once or twice, until slightly charred and tender when pierced with a knife. Transfer to a platter.

Spoon some of the pesto over the eggplants and garnish with fried shallots and chopped peanuts. Serve with extra pesto in a bowl on the side. May be served warm or at room temperature.

Support Provided By
Read More
Close-up view of cherry blossoms in Little Tokyo.

Where to Find the Most Beautiful Blooming Trees in the L.A. Area

While L.A. may be more closely associated with palm trees lining its sidewalks and streets, this sprawling city and its surrounding municipalities is actually a horticultural delight of varied treescapes. Here are seven spots to get a glimpse of great blossoms.
A cup of ginjo sake paired with Tsubaki's kanpachi sashimi

Sake 101 Taught by Courtney Kaplan of Tsubaki and Ototo

Sake has existed for thousands of years. To help introduce and better understand this storied beverage, we turn to Courtney Kaplan, sommelier, sake aficionado and co-owner of restaurants Tsubaki and Ototo in Los Angeles.
An image of the French district in downtown Los Angeles. The image shows Aliso Street in downtown Los Angeles, California, with signs labeling buildings "Griffins Transfer and Storage Co." and "Cafe des Alpes" next to "Eden Hotel," which are located on opposite corners of Aliso and Alameda Streets. A Pacific Electric streetcar sign reads "Sierra Madre" and automobiles and horse-drawn wagons are seen in the dirt road.

What Cinco de Mayo Has to do with the French in Early L.A.

Cinco de Mayo is often celebrated wrongly as Mexican Independence Day, but a dig into the historical landscape of Los Angeles in the early 19th century reveals a complex relationship of French émigrés with a Mexican Los Angeles.