Monday, June 28, 2010

Eggplant Parm 'N' Pesto Quesadilla

New York. The Big Apple. The City That Never Sleeps. The Empire State.  Whatever you call it, to me it will always be
the roots of my tree.
The place I was born, where I spent the early part of my childhood growing up, and where most of my family still lives today.

There's no other place quite like it...the raw energy couldn't be duplicated even if you finds it's way into your veins and gives you a rush like nothing you've ever felt before.
Times Square is mesmerizing no matter what time of day...
taxis honking, weaving in and out of traffic...
people surging up and down subway stairs. 

I love how small I feel beneath the skycrapers of Manhattan - how the skyline twinkles at night - the smell of fresh basil, pasta, pizza and pastries throughout the streets of Little Italy - the trendy boutiques and cafes in SoHo - the buzz on Broadway - even the hustle and bustle in Grand Central Station.

Ohhhh but what I love MOST about New York resides on the east side of Long Island, on a tree lined street in Ronkonkoma, in Aunt Marie's Kitchen....and that's Grandma's cookin'. Meat-a-balls as big as your head. Eggplant Parmigaina baked to perfection. The very thought of it puts me in a groove of emotion I can hardly contain....fuhgettaboudit... I can almost taste them right now.....just a small sample of the 150,000 calories I usually consume while sitting at Grandma Tina's table.

Of course, if she doesn't witness you eat the food with her own eyes it doesn't count, so you always want to make sure she actually sees you putting the food in your mouth, otherwise, you're sure to hear "eh, Jaiiiime, you-a so skinny, you don't-a eat nothing...come-a eat, eh, mangia mangia"...and believe me, she's watching...with arms folded in the corner, giving nods of approval with each bite....before you know it, the platters start coming your way... antipasta, baked ziti, sausage and peppers, scotchada, lemon chicken, caprese, garlic knots, and trust me, that's just the beginning..... The most special memories I carry with me involve eating around the table with mi familia.

This recipe I'd like to share with you today is a beautiful fusion of Italian and Mexican cuisine. My love affair with basil comes in to play and combines itself with the flavorful crispy goodness of eggplant cutlets layered with ripe juicy roma tomatoes, and 3 cheeses all snuggled up in a warm tortilla. A quesadilla is sort of like a mexican version of a panini, yes? The only limits are your imagination when it comes to creative combinations of ingredients to serve up, so go a little crazy and try something my Eggplant Parm 'n' Pesto Quesadilla....and make some beautiful memories
with the ones you love....mangia!Photobucket
Eggplant Parm 'n' Pesto Quesadilla

3 - 3 to 4" pieces from a small oblong eggplant appx. 1/4" thick
1 egg, beaten with a splash of water
1/2 cup of breadcrumbs
3/4 teaspoon of salt
*(SHORTCUT: In a pinch, you can also substitute 6 small frozen eggplant cutlets that can be found in freezer section of most grocery stores, I like Trader Joe's, if so eliminate above ingredients)
2 tbsp of olive oil
2 oz. of cream cheese, softened
5 tbsp of pesto (recipe for pesto below)
1 Large Roma Tomato, sliced
1/2 cup of grated Parmiggano Reggiano, divided
1/4 cup of grated Fontina Cheese
1/8 tsp of cracked black pepper
1 - 10" tortilla
cooking spray

to prepare eggplant:
slice 3 to 4 pieces of eggplant from the large part of the eggplant into 1/4" thick slices
salt front and back of each eggplant slice, lay on plate for 10 minutes so it will sweat out any bitterness
then, rinse each eggplant slice off well to get salt off and pat dry
dip in egg and then bread each side in breadcrumbs
*(if substituting frozen eggplant cutlets, you may skip the above steps)
fry in olive oil until medium golden brown on both sides
lay on paper towl to drain

to assemble quesadilla:
lay tortilla on cutting board side by side
spread cream cheese evenly on tortilla
spread pesto evenly on top of cream cheese on tortilla
sprinkle 1/4 cup of parmiggano reggiano on one half of tortilla
lay eggplant cutlets evenly on same half of the tortilla
sprinkle fontina cheese just on top of eggplant cutlets
lay roma tomatoes evenly on top of fontina cheese and eggplant cutlets only
sprinkle remaining parmiggano reggiano on top of tomatoes
sprinkle cracked black pepper evenly over parmiggano reggiano
fold other half of tortilla over to cover eggplants cutlets so that it forms a half quesadilla

to cook quesadilla:
spray large skillet or flat iron gridle with cooking spray
place assembled quesadilla on top of pan or gridle over medium-high heat
cook appx. 2 to 3 minutes and flip gently making sure to keep ingredients inside quesadilla intact
cook other side appx 2 to 3 minutes or until cheese is melted and tortilla has a medium golden brown crispiness to it
place on cutting board and use pizza cutter or large knife to cut into 4 pie pieces
plate, serve hot and mangia!

Basil Pesto
2 cups fresh Basil Leaves
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (pignoli, pinon)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
pinch of salt
pinch of black pepper
Blend all ingredients in a blender, voila!
*I like to mix in 1/2 cup of shredded parmiggano reggiano after the pesto is blended for an extra layer of flavor :)

I want to take a moment to thank for presenting me with "the beautiful blogger award" - I truly am speechless. It is such an honor to be noted for bringing some beauty into another's life and I am truly grateful for this acknowledgement. I would love to pass this special award on to the following blogs: Life Beyond The Picket Fence, Let me think, sophistimom, The Art of Choosing Joy, Enjoying the Small Things, and HELLO my name is Heather - you all have brought beauty to me through your magnificent blogs - keep shining sweet bellas!


  1. I love New York City! I wish that I would have taken the jump when I was young and single and moved there just to say I lived there! I love the feeling the city gives off - you just feel energized! I was lucky enough with a previous job that I got to travel there for meetings each quarter. I would squeal with delight when i got the email to book my trip to NYC! So i'm jealous you have lived there ;)

    Now, your recipe looks delicious! Thanks for sharing I might give this a try one night!

  2. Congratulations on the "Beautiful Blogger" award.
    I agree! Your blog is beautiful and inspirational. I love the recipe and can't wait to try it! O.k. now I'm hungry!!! again!

  3. this looks dangerously good! thanks again for the sunshine award! I got it up and it's so cute. yay!

  4. whatr a well written post! you made me see New York as you did, and I think your Italian Grandmother truly new what was important and how to live! Your quesadilla sounds delicious, I know my Mexican grandmother loved eggplant to, altough I will have to ask my mother if she ever cooked in a tortilla!
    thanks for your kind words on my blog! I look forward to reading more of your posts!

  5. That looks /so/ good!! It definitely doesn't help that I'm already starving, haha. I may have to try it sometime! Thanks for sharing with us.

  6. Congrats on your award.

    I make Quesadillas all the time, thanks for this new recipe!

    Following you back!

  7. *GASP!* That looks sooo good! Seriously, I am STARVING now that I've seen that photo!
    Greetings from Lamb! Thank you for stopping by to show me some bloggy love. It was quite a shock to wake up and discover that I’d been featured on SITS, especially with my face covered in sticky cinnamon! Now I have lots of fun new blogs to explore. If you do try out my face mask, be sure to take a photo and email it to me. I’ll feature you in a post with a link to your blog :)

    LambAround’s latest post: My Awkward Family Photo

  8. That look sooo good, and so different from the typical mexican quesadilla. Great way to use up all the fresh pesto we've been making too!

  9. Thanks so much for stopping by my blog and following, and for the sunshine award! What a privilege! Your blog is beautiful, and I can just hear the Italian accents in the "your a so skinny!" Thanks for the recipes, and I hope to stop by your blog again and again! Thanks again!

  10. This is a great quesadilla combination! So creative and new!

  11. I would love to visit NYC and perhaps make a side trip to your grandma's house where she can fill me up with meatballs the size of my head.


  12. Very cool dish. I look forward to trying it. No one feeds you like a Grandma!

  13. OK, Grandma Tina is obviously a very wise woman! The basil shot...I could just smell it. This dish sounds amazing. And love your site!

  14. Oh, I made the mistake of reading your blog before I had some lunch. Mouth watering words for sure. I probably would love your Grandma.

  15. Hi, thank you for dropping by my blog place and leaving a kind comment.

    I have read your recent entries... and truly find your blog such a delightful place. Full of zest for life.

    Thanks for allowing me to discover more of you. God be given the glory, you are a gift !


  16. The quesadilla looks great! I'm following you from MBC.

  17. You have a beautiful blog, here, and the feeling I get is one of abundant living. Very nice job.

  18. Mmmm this looks delicious... I'm bookmarking this one for later! Thanks for the comment I've following you back!

  19. I think I drooled immediately upon reading your post :0)

  20. I have never been to NY, but you definitely make it sound like an awesome place :) I love the eggplant quesadilla!

  21. i was born in brooklyn....
    i have been looking for a recipe to introduce my children to eggplant.... they love quesidillas so this should be wonderful...thanks so much...

  22. You made me feel as though I was in your grandmother's house with what I can only call your poetry. What wonderful, warm and comforting images you created for us; not just of those who love you, but the food that flows from that love. Of course, the dish itself, it feeds my love for basil as well so I'll be making it too.

  23. Love your grandma story so much- I felt like I was right there in that kitchen with you! My grandma wasn't Italian, but she could sure cook up some mean crab cakes and would make sure everybody ate until they couldn't hold another bite. This recipe is a great marriage of cuisines and sounds marvelous- I'm definitely trying this! Thanks for sharing :)

  24. Glad I found your intresting and well written blog. Look forward to following you here.


  25. love your writing style.

    i would have never thought to combo quesadillas and eggplant! it sounds delish!

  26. This will be a great way to sneak some veggies to my 3 year old. He LOVES quesadillas!
    Think I'll try it.

    I, too, love your writing style.

    Keep em' coming and Thanks!
    Teri from

  27. A truely inspired recipe! Really, why hasn't anyone come up with this before?

    Thanks so much for stopping by my site earlier and for leaving those incredibly sweet comments!



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