Potato salad? Check. Deviled eggs? Check. Salad? Check.Veggie dogs/hot dogs? Check. Hummus? Check. Brownies? Check. Every other item of food needed for a picnic? Check.
In a family full of cooks, the basics are nearly always covered when it comes to throwing a party with the Dickinson crew. “Why don’t you just relax and not make anything this time,” my mom tells me. It’s the same thing she told me on Labor Day. And on Memorial Day. And probably the past five holidays before that.
“Because I WANT to make something.” Of all people, I’d think she’d understand this. But maybe not.
Regardless, I always end up making the experimental dish on the table that I typically give some long, made-up name no one could ever guess. More often than not, it’s also always the talk of the party. Not to be cocky, but generally the adventurous eaters are the people who enjoy talking about food, and when an innovative dish shows up on their plate, they come running with an eager bunch of questions. That leaves me to sweep in and run through the rhyme and reasoning of the ingredients. Rinse and repeat, and I end up sending a majority of the party home with a new recipe to make.
Luckily, it’s a process I can happily handle. Being told not to cook for a party on the other hand, well, that not so much.
This one came from the idea and desire of combining two of my favorite summer eats, pesto and roasted eggplant. With a lot of bell peppers on hand, I threw them into the mix too, bulking up the pesto with their flavor. If you have red bell peppers available—which sadly I did not—I presume this dish might turn out a tad prettier. Either way, top this dish off with a splash of tomatoes for a fresh finish. And be prepared to explain what other ingredients went in it.
- -3 large bell peppers, sliced 1/4-inch thick
- -1 large eggplant, sliced 1/4-inch thick
- -2 small-medium garlic cloves
- -1/3 cup toasted walnuts
- -1/3 cup basil
- -1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more to coat
- -4 (15oz.) cans of white beans, variety of your choice, drained and rinsed
- -1/4 tsp. crushed red chili pepper flakes
- -1 large tomato, diced
- -Salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 400F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Scatter peppers in a single layer on one sheet and eggplant on the other. Toss with olive oil to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Place in oven and bake 15 minutes. Flip eggplant and shake peppers. Return to oven and bake another 15 minutes, or until veggies are tender.
- Pulse garlic in food processor. Add peppers, walnuts, oil, basil, pepper flakes and 3/4 tsp. salt. Puree until smooth.
- Toss beans with pepper mixture. Chop eggplant and add to beans. Adjust salt and pepper, to taste. Top with chopped tomatoes. Serve with pita or bread.