Cut eggplants into thin discs. Put some oil on a large plate and dunk several eggplant slices one at a time in the oil, letting excess drip off , then transfer to a barbecue grill rack heated to medium. Cook quickly until tender and golden and lightly charred around the edges, moving the slices around often to prevent scorching. As they are done, transfer eggplant slices to a clean plate and season with sea salt. Repeat with remaining eggplant. Alternatively, cook in a ridged grillpan heated to medium-high.
Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a small frying pan over medium heat. Add pine nuts and cook gently, turning often with a spoon, until lightly golden. Scoop out with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate lined with paper towels.
Put mint leaves in a food processor bowl with the garlic, sugar and a pinch of sea salt. Process until mint is finely chopped. Add pine nuts, lemon juice and parmesan and process briefly, leaving nuts chunky. Scrape mixture into a bowl and stir in 2-3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, or enough to make a spreadable paste. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
Spoon mint pesto over eggplant slices. Serve immediately, or leave at room temperature for up to 3 hours before serving.
Although this dish is rich, the mint goes some way to balancing that. If using New Zealand Pinoli pine nuts, it’s not necessary to fry them fi rst. Serve with plenty of bread as an antipasto dish, or as an accompaniment to lamb or chicken.
Article from the March, 2012 issue of Taste magazine.