S o what does Italy and Mexico have in common? Not much, but, since Mexican cuisine is similar to Spainish and since Spain is chums with Italy - okay, I’m really trying to make this work. So, at any rate, what is wrong with fusion cuisine? If you take into the consideration of how traditional recipes were adapted and the popularity of fusion foods in today’s generation, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the concept. Roy Yamaguchi, owner of Roy’s (big surprise), for example, combines Japanese and Hawaiian ingredients to create interesting and gorgeous food displays. A more common name in the fusion cuisine is, of course, Ming Tsai, who marries Chinese flavors with American cuisine. Of course, these are only two of thousands of chefs who perform similar pairings. Sometimes, even the strangest ingredients can be combined to create a new flavor that possesses one’s taste buds and conception.
Even though there isn’t much of a fusion here, save for the fact that I’m throwing everything into a tortilla, the concept is fantastic. Since I can’t have real cheese, I had to use a cheap (well it’s rather pricy) cheese, but, I 100% recommend using queso fresco to increase the fusion idea and for adding more depth in flavor. I always roast eggplant because I absolutely love it to death. The outside becomes just slightly crisp and chewy while the internal part of the aubergine remains smooth and creamy. The pesto can be doubled, tripled, and even quadrupled and frozen for preservation in alternation of your traditional pasta sauce.
Sun dried tomatoes are simply indescribably good. There’s something about their earthy flavor and simplicity in use that has me cooing with ecstasy. They are fantastic in a simple grilled cheese, even, tossed in salads, omelets, pasta - you name it, it can be done. Heck, bake it in bread, too, for an artesian take on a loaf of focaccia or ciabatta. Try them if you haven’t; you’ll love them. ? Roasted Eggplant Fajita Quesadillas with Sundried Tomato Pesto 1 large brown rice flour tortilla ½ small eggplant, sliced ½ inch thick ¼ of a bell pepper, sliced ½ inch thick ½ small onion, sliced ½ inch thick ½ cup or 2 slices of faux cheese of your choice (or real if you can tolerate it..) ½ tsp cumin ½ tsp paprika
Sundried Tomato Pesto 3 sundried tomatoes, soaked in hot water until soft and water saved 1 cup packed basil leaves 1 garlic clove (roasted if possible) Salt Pepper
Cut the eggplant into steak fry-like strips, salt on both sides then set aside to drain for 30 minutes. I like to chew the skin and, if you’re roasting it, its better off to leave it on so the eggplant doesn’t disintegrate. However, you can most certainly remove it.
Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.
While the oven is preheating, make your pesto ala rouge. Soak the tomatoes in hot water for 15 minutes or cheat and nuke them in the microwave on high for a minute or two. Don’t throw out the flavored water. In a food processor or emersion blender configuration (Mine came with that blender cup attachment. You know what I mean!), combine all the ingredients and pulse/blend. If it appears thick, add water (about ¼ cup at a time). It will thicken as it cools, so don’t worry; but, the primary consistency result should be a moderately thick paste. Set this aside to cool or keep at room temperature if you’re going to use it right away.
Now, the eggplant should be ready as well as the oven. I usually do my eggplant the night before in batches so I have it on hand unless I know I’m going to use it for another purpose. Since I wasn’t, I went in this direction. Wash the eggplant and pat dry. Line a sheet pan/cookie sheet with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Spread out the eggplant across the sheet and spray that with nonstick cooking spray. Roast in the oven for 20-30 minutes, depending on the thickness of your eggplant slices.
Once finished remove from the oven and set aside. Slice your vegetables and, in a heated nonstick frying pan or one sprayed with nonstick cooking spray, add your peppers and onions. Saute the two until they are cooked to your liking (semi raw or fully cooked), then add the eggplant with the cumin and paprika. Once heated together, remove to a plate.
In the same pan if it is big enough, heat the tortilla until it becomes pliable (I use brown rice tortillas - I forget the brand). Spread some cheese on the bottom, followed by the vegetables, and then more cheese on top. Fold over the tortilla and press with your spatula for a few minutes, then, gently turn over the quesadilla and press down on the other side. Once everything seems to stick together well, transfer to a plate and top it with the pesto. Cut into wedges and enjoy with a tasty margarita! And lots n’ lots of napkins.