Roasted Eggplant Pesto Recipe (2024)

By Susan Voisin 99 Comments
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Roasted eggplant gives this vegan pesto a hint of smoky flavor while sun-dried tomatoes add a bright, tangy spark of flavor.

Roasted Eggplant Pesto Recipe (1)

This week on the FatFreeVegan Facebook page, I’ve been offering my suggestions for Fourth of July dishes–salads that transport well, veggie burgers you can make ahead and heat on the grill, etc. You can add a pasta salad tossed with this aromatic pesto to the list of foods you can bring and that everyone–vegan and non-vegan, health enthusiasts and hedonists–will enjoy.

Traditional pesto combines basil with olive oil and, often, cheese, and vegan versions usually replace the cheese with nuts but keep the olive oil. As an oil-free vegan (OFV), I’m constantly looking for new ways to get the zesty basil and garlic flavor of pesto without the olive oil. I’ve made pesto with silken tofu, asparagus, white beans, and artichokes instead of oil with varying levels of success (asparagus is the prettiest, artichoke is the least flavorful), but I think I’ve hit on a new favorite.

Though not the most attractive oil-alternative, roasted eggplant gives this pesto a hint of smoky flavor without overwhelming the other ingredients and makes a sauce whose consistency is more like traditional pesto than any of my other versions. Ground almonds and a little nutritional yeast supply a hint of cheesiness, and sun-dried tomatoes add a bright, tangy spark of flavor.

The recipe makes a good bit, so plan to use it for several days in different ways. Add it to pasta and toss in fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, and other vegetables for a delicious pasta salad that you can serve cold or at room temperature.

Roasted Eggplant Pesto Recipe (2)

It’s also a delicious spread for bread; spread it on a hearty whole-grain bread as a substitute for garlic bread or to perk up a sandwich (try it with Italian sausages–you will not be disappointed!) And this may sound odd, but I tossed a little with some chickpeas for a tasty, albeit messy, snack. A little goes a long way, so don’t be afraid to freeze the leftovers for later use.

Roasted Eggplant Pesto Recipe (3)

4.43 from 7 votes

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Roasted Eggplant Pesto

Look for sun-dried tomatoes that are not packed in oil but are still soft and flexible. If they seem overly dried out, you will need to soak them in hot water before using.

Prep Time 20 minutes minutes

Cook Time 30 minutes minutes

Total Time 50 minutes minutes

Servings 8

Author Susan Voisin


  • 1 large eggplant
  • 1/4 cup whole raw almonds
  • 2 sun-dried tomatoes (not oil-packed)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups basil leaves , lightly packed
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • salt to taste


To Do Ahead:

  • Preheat oven to 400F. Trim off and discard the stem end of eggplant and cut in half lengthwise. Place cut-side down on a baking sheet lined with a silicone liner or parchment paper. Pierce the backs of the eggplant with a fork in a few places. Bake until completely soft and somewhat collapsed, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. This can be done ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use.

  • At least 2 hours before using (and up to overnight), place almonds in a bowl and cover completely with water. Allow to soak at room temperature. Drain water before using.

Just Before Serving:

  • Put the almonds, sun-dried tomatoes, and garlic into food processor and pulse to chop. Peel the eggplant and add it, the basil, and the nutritional yeast to the processor and process to a coarse puree. Add salt to taste and pulse to blend.

  • Add a tablespoon to a serving of warm pasta (if the pesto is too thick to easily coat the pasta, add a little hot water to it), or use as a spread for bread or a dip for crackers or vegetables. Store in a covered container. For best color, either press a sheet of plastic wrap onto the exposed surface or spray with a light film of olive oil.

Nutrition Facts

Roasted Eggplant Pesto

Amount Per Serving (1 serving)

Calories 52Calories from Fat 23

% Daily Value*

Fat 2.6g4%

Sodium 13mg1%

Carbohydrates 6g2%

Fiber 3g13%

Sugar 2g2%

Protein 3g6%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Nutritional info is approximate.

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Reader Interactions


  1. MS

    August 24, 2010 at 7:41 pm

    Sounds yummy! Printing recipe now! Love pesto and like this spin on it.


  2. Miss K

    September 6, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    I made this for lunch yesterday and while it turned out great, I could still taste a little bit of the bitterness of the eggplant in the pesto. Do you think salting it and letting it sit for a while before roasting it would help?


    • SusanV

      September 6, 2010 at 4:18 pm

      Some eggplants are more bitter than others, and salting will usually help, but that mostly works for eggplant that has been sliced or chopped before cooking. Something else you can try: If you notice that your eggplant has a lot of seeds once it’s roasted, scrape out the seeds and discard them. They’re the cause of a lot of the bitterness.


  3. Kat

    September 11, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    This turned out great! We added a pinch of paprika to spice it up a bit, and next time we might add an extra sun dried tomato or some lemon juice to give it some more tang. I might leave out the nut yeast to sprinkle on after as I find I want to put more salt on my food when I use it.

    I think this would be awesome as a layer in lasagna.


  4. Julie

    September 13, 2010 at 7:59 am

    Because of you, my husband’s new favorite veggie is eggplant so thank you, thank you, thank you! Between this and the eggplant parmesan, he apparently doesn’t need anything else in his life. 🙂

    We found some chili flavored spaghetti to use with this and it turned out perfectly with a nice little kick.

    Thanks again!


  5. Jessica

    September 25, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    Susan! This is the most amazing thing I’ve tried from your blog! I’ve tried quite a bit but this tops all.. scrumptious! Thank you.. amazing creativity.


  6. Laura

    October 1, 2010 at 10:43 am

    I actually like this way better than the oil based recipe I use, and now I can have pesto more often (and I LOVE it) because it’s not a fat+carb calorie super bomb. Thank you!


  7. Cook 4 Vegan Family

    October 9, 2010 at 9:58 am

    We decided to have basil planted in several containers this summer. I was amazed at how much basil those plants produced! We made this recipe several times and LOVED it each time. I even turned my mom onto this recipe. Great idea with the roasted eggplant.


  8. Marinda Bush

    January 18, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    Hello Susan, I am a regular reader and love almost every one of your recipes I try. I have a private blog where occasionally I post about foods or recipes I love (along with many other topics) When I use your recipes I’ve included the link – is that okay with you? I don’t post the actual recipe or photo, just send the readers (friends and family) to your sight. I just want to make sure that follows your copy right rules.



    • SusanV

      January 18, 2011 at 12:20 pm

      That’s perfect, Marinda! Thanks for taking the time to ask!


  9. Pasha

    May 14, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    I made this yesterday and it’s delicious! Thanks Susan, flawless as ever!! My usual pesto is a flax meal, cilantro, garlic, lemon juice and pumpkin seed affair with a bit of s+p and some nooch – it’s great for dipping, on bread and on top of soup but it has never quite hit the spot as a traditional pasta sauce. This does!! Ta very much 😉


  10. eva @5fruitsNveggies

    June 30, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    just made your roasted eggplant pesto…it was perfect on top of raw spiralized zucchini…i only soaked the almonds about an hour and it worked fine…just wondering why they needed to soak 2 hours or overnight?…i added more than 2 sun-dried tomatoes since i love them…all in all, easy, fast and even my carnivore, carb-less husband loved this meal….now just need to try on the kids!


  11. Elandryl

    July 9, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    I loved it! Than you so much!
    I personally didn’t put the yeast (It is not common where I live , I couldn’t find it) and added only half a clove of garlic since it comes from my yard and it’s super strong this year. I also added a couple of fresh peppermint and lemon balm leaves from my tiny spice garden and used spiced salt in order to put less of it and give it a little bit more sting.
    Since I don’t write often I also wanted to tell you that I love your website! I foud so many good recipies in it! The only problem with your site, and in general with American ones, is to convert everything into grams because is soo much time consuming and hard to get it right.
    If it was in ouces it would be much easier to convert but unfortunately “cups and spoons”, especially for nuts or non-liquid things, are different for every single item and sometimes I honestly don’t know how you people manage to know how you measure how much of every ingredient.
    If there’s a secret easy way out of it please let me know! (I don’t mean it sarcastically, any help is really appreciated to understand it better!)
    Thank you again!


  12. Tracy O

    August 2, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    OK, yum!
    Used my home-grown eggplant and tomatoes (dehydrated)
    Made it with pepitas since I didn’t have any almonds.
    Threw in an extra clove of garlic, because that’s how I roll!
    Turned out great!
    Thank you!!
    Newbury Park, CA


  13. May

    November 12, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    This was incredible, I just made it and the taste is heavenly. I love how we end up eating raw garlic which is so healthy.
    I translated to portuguese and wanted to know if it’s okay to share with your link to this post, thank you for creating this. My husband will be so surprised.


  14. Julia

    March 18, 2013 at 3:10 am

    I love your recipes, this website is wonderful.
    another idea for pesto, if you haven’t tried already, is green peas,
    the green is quite fluorescent, but it has a great flavor and is a good replacement
    for the olive oil.


  15. Crystal

    June 27, 2013 at 7:30 pm

    This sounds so yummy! I’m excited to try it this weekend. I am allergic to almonds so I was wondering if you think cashews would work in place of almonds…


    • Susan Voisin

      June 27, 2013 at 7:53 pm

      Yes, I think cashews or any other nut could be used, and you shouldn’t have to soak them. Hope you enjoy it!


      • Crystal

        July 18, 2013 at 1:10 pm

        The cashews worked and it was amazing! Thanks!


  16. Kelsey M

    June 28, 2013 at 11:40 am

    Wow this looks amazing! I’m definitely buying eggplant next time I go grocery shopping so I can make this asap~


  17. jmacdona2

    January 27, 2014 at 6:29 am

    And what exactly is a “large” eggplant? In today’s cooking arena, recipes are usually more specific, aren’t they? Pounds, ounces, grams, cups, etc. Please!


    • Susan Voisin

      January 27, 2014 at 7:32 am

      It won’t really matter if your eggplant is a few ounces bigger or smaller than the one I used. Just choose the largest one you can find.


  18. jmacdona2

    January 27, 2014 at 7:08 am

    Sorry to seem so dense. I’m a new vegan and not used to cooking with some of these foods. When you say “one sun-dried tomato”, do you mean one strip (that’s how I seem them on the salad bars and in jars) or one whole tomato, sun-dried?


    • Susan Voisin

      January 27, 2014 at 7:25 am

      One whole tomato, sun-dried, the kind in the plastic bags, not the oil-packed kind in jars.


      • Jem

        January 27, 2014 at 12:38 pm

        I bought a bag (never saw that before!). Each piece is quite little, about 1-1/2 inches long and looks like it’s one side or piece of a tomato.


        • Susan Voisin

          January 27, 2014 at 12:51 pm

          If they’re small, you could use four of them. If they feel very tough and leathery, soak them in warm water first. The kind I buy are soft, but I’ve seen others that are small and tough and need soaking.


  19. jmacdona2

    January 27, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    Geesh, I feel stupid. Almonds……raw, roasted? I assume not salted. With/without skins?


    • Susan Voisin

      January 27, 2014 at 12:37 pm

      Raw, with skins, unsalted. Sorry to have been so unclear. Are you new to this way of eating? You’re making me see that I shouldn’t presume we all are used to eating and cooking this way.


      • Jem

        January 27, 2014 at 12:45 pm

        Oh yes. VERY new! I have an eggplant in the oven right now but I have a feeling it’s too large for a half recipe. I never bought an eggplant before and the ones in the store ranged from huge to baby-sized. I found on the internet that 1 cup of basil was about 20 gms and that what I have to work with right now, so I figured I’d make 1/2 recipe with it.
        I’m enjoying learning all of this new stuff and experimenting in the kitchen again. I’m over 70 yrs old and have always been an Eastern European cook — with meat/potatoes or noodle dishes. Lots of dairy, etc. And my arthritis is already improving! Thank you for your help.


        • Susan Voisin

          January 27, 2014 at 12:53 pm

          That’s wonderful! I’m happy to help in any way. Thanks for your help in making my recipes more specific.


          • Jem

            January 27, 2014 at 7:10 pm

            Thank you for such a wonderful site. I have already made 3-4 of your recipes and they are wonderful. I can tell this will be my “go to” site for good food!

  20. Susan Simon

    June 29, 2014 at 6:30 pm

    OMG. I just made this. I blackened the eggplant over my gas stove for about 10 minutes and let them cool and peeled the skin off. Then followed the directions, although I’m guessing that I processed it a little too finely in my Vitamix. But the taste is scrumptious. This will be great on pizza and on steamed veggies and maybe even salad. So so so so so so good. Thank you Susan!


  21. KK

    July 12, 2014 at 8:07 pm

    This was fabulous. Thank you!


  22. Abby

    January 26, 2016 at 10:12 pm

    i made it! i ate it with pasta and used as a sandwich spread, super delicious


  23. Siobhan

    June 3, 2016 at 12:25 pm

    Just made this pesto and it’s absolutely amazing!
    Had the chargrilled aubergine pesto by sacla but it was so greasy it made my stomach turn.
    This is so delicious and by far the best pesto I have had.
    Thank you for the recipe!


  24. Anne

    June 20, 2017 at 7:33 pm

    I’ll be trying this recipe this coming weekend. And I want to mention – I’ve made pesto with chickpea water instead of oil and the pesto turned out well. Next time I’ll reduce it by about one quarter for a thicker consistency. The texture wasn’t the same as an oil base, but it carried the flavor and wasn’t watery.


  25. Kristin

    June 29, 2017 at 9:36 am

    This is my new avocado toast! SO good. I threw in a couple handfuls of fresh spinach and it really helped with the “attractiveness” factor. I’m gonna try it next time without the almonds and see how it goes. I can’t imagine it would be anything but fantastic. I’m kicking myself for putting off making this for so long. My fridge will never be without it again!


  26. Scott McCanles

    October 7, 2017 at 1:16 pm

    I was excited to try this recipe. I followed the instructions, as I am a Stickler about following the directions. After adding the eggplant, garlic, soaked almonds, basil into a food processor, it wouldn’t blend! Switched to a Magic Bullet and still wouldn’t blend. Finally used an old fashion hand mixer.
    Way to much work for finished product.
    Any suggestions??


    • Susan Voisin

      October 7, 2017 at 9:29 pm

      How big a food processor did you use? Roasted eggplant is so soft I can’t imagine why t wouldn’t blend.


  27. Vivi

    September 25, 2020 at 6:41 pm

    Hi Susan,
    What is the size of a serving for this recipe?
    Thank you!


    • Susan Voisin

      September 25, 2020 at 7:59 pm

      The exact amount will vary depending on the size of the eggplant and other factors. It makes 8 servings, so you’d need to divide the finished product by 8. I would estimate that each serving will be at least 1/4 of a cup.


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Roasted Eggplant Pesto Recipe (2024)


How do you know when eggplant is cooked enough? ›

When it's cooked, “it should turn fully tender, all the flesh should be somewhat custardy. If you have to, hammer it a bit, knock it around, let it start to collapse.” When you're roasting eggplant, like in YuChen's recipe, “make sure you give them enough space so they can cook evenly,” she says.

What is the secret to cooking eggplant? ›

Eggplant is about 80 to 90 percent water, so when you put them in the oven they need space to evaporate all that water and caramelize properly," says Covarrubias. Give them a toss halfway through the cooking process to make sure they're cooked evenly, too.

Should I soak eggplant before roasting? ›

Brining can be used instead and has the added advantage of helping the eggplant keep its shape when it's cooked, whether your recipe calls for baking, frying, or grilling. This technique of soaking sliced or chopped eggplant in salt water is particularly useful when making grilled eggplant.

How do you cook eggplant without getting soggy? ›

Eggplant Cooking Tips

Eggplant skin is edible, but can be peeled or stripped based on personal preference. Eggplants are known to absorb a lot of fat while cooking. A useful tip to prevent sogginess and greasiness is to salt sliced or diced eggplant and let it sit for an hour.

Is it okay to eat eggplant that is brown inside? ›

Answer. Eggplant flesh will have tan to brown colored spots around the seeds. If this is the color you are referring to, it is edible. If the flesh is more brown than white, the eggplant may be spoiling and should be discarded.

What color does eggplant turn when cooked? ›

Eggplant is one of the most popular vegetables of all cuisines, but cooked eggplant would turn brown. Though the taste of cooked eggplant won't be affected, the brown eggplant doesn't look nice in terms of presentation.

How do you roast eggplant so it's not bitter? ›

If you are worried that the eggplant might be bitter, slice or cube it, then salt it liberally and allow it to drain for an hour or so before cooking. Putting salt on the eggplant triggers osmosis, which draws out excess moisture and the bitterness along with it.

What happens if you don't salt eggplant before cooking? ›

Salting: Salting removes excess liquid and some of the bitterness. Today's eggplants are bred for mildness, though, so it's not as important as it used to be (if you are frying eggplant, salting will ensure a creamy texture and rich flavor). This method works for eggplant slices, cubes, or planks.

What makes eggplant taste good? ›

What do eggplants go with? Flavourings: garlic, chilli, onion, basil, mint, cumin, parsley, coriander, oregano. Ingredients: haloumi, parmesan and mozzarella cheeses, anchovies, olives, tomatoes, eggs, beef, lamb, tahini, yoghurt, lemon juice, olives and olive oil.

Do I have to salt eggplant before roasting? ›

Older recipes call for salting eggplant to draw out the bitter juices, but today's eggplants are less bitter (unless very large), so salting is largely unnecessary. It will, however, help the spongy flesh absorb less oil and crisp up like a dream.

Why do you salt eggplant before roasting? ›

Salting eliminates bitter flavors that come from storing your eggplants too long or using older eggplants. Today's eggplants may be sweeter, but they still have some bitter liquid inside, especially if they are not fresh. Fried eggplant is crispier and more savory when it's been pre-salted.

Do you eat the skin of roasted eggplant? ›

The skin is edible, so you can leave it on when preparing eggplant. Cut off the stem and then cut into your desired shape—slices and cubes are popular options. Cut off and discard any parts that are turning brown. Those parts are more bitter than the normally creamy white interior.

Why is my baked eggplant tough? ›

Not cooking it in enough fat.

You need to be a little more generous in order for there to be enough oil on the outside of the eggplant to cook properly.

Why is eggplant tough when cooked? ›

You mentioned that once they turned out tough and chewy: then they were not cooked fully through. Vegetables are not like meat, which turn rubbery when overcooked. They turn soft rather. Watch out for the opposite as well: Eggplants when cooked for a long time may turn mushy.

Can you eat not fully cooked eggplant? ›

While you can eat eggplant without cooking it, raw eggplant can taste a bit bitter, so it is usually not at the top of the list for recipe developers. But there are ways to mitigate the bitterness or make it work for you.

Should eggplant be soft inside? ›

A good eggplant will have glossy, taut skin. You'll also want to test the texture of the flesh. When buying an eggplant, the flesh should be firm but give slightly when pressed, then bounce back. If your eggplant is soft to the touch, that's an indication that it's beginning to spoil.

Should eggplant be soft or firm? ›

You want a little firmness to your eggplant. It should be slightly firm but not hard. If you push on it with your finger and the veggie feels very soft, or you're able to puncture the skin, it's too far gone. A perfectly ripe eggplant will not have as much give when touched as a ripe tomato or peach.

Can you over cook eggplant? ›

The thing about cooking eggplant is that it's easy to get wrong. Underdo it, and it's spongy and tough. Overdo it, and it turns to mush. But get it just right, and eggplant is one of the most flavorful vegetables out there.

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