This recipe is a combination of my favorite veggies and my favorite sauce. Perfect for a hot summer dinner! I was afraid it wouldn't fill up my hubby. However, one veggie tower filled him up! I used walnuts instead of pine nuts and it tasted delicious. My 18 year old daughter and my 86 year old mom loved it, too! Enjoy! :)
1Make the pesto dipping sauce: In the bowl of a food processor add 2 cups of basil leaves, walnuts, 2 cloves garlic, parmesan cheese. Puree, scraping down the sides of the bowl. With the machine running add 1/3 cup olive oil and blend well. Scrape pesto into a bowl. Add the mayo. Blend well and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and chill.
2Remove stems from mushrooms and reserve for another use. Cut eggplant into 1/4 inch rounds. Cut bell peppers in half lengthwise. Remove stem/seeds. Cut each half into 3 pieces. Brush both sides of the sliced veggies with 1/2 cup olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill veggies over med heat until softened, pliable, browned and grill marks appear. (Mushrooms will not show grill mark. If bell pepper has blackened blisters you can simply peel off blackened skin). Pile cooked veggies in stacks on a platter and cover with foil and keep warm.
3Make the sautéed spinach: In a large frying pan over medium heat add 1 TBL olive oil. Add 1 remaining clove of minced garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add spinach leaves and lemon zest and stir until spinach is wilted. Remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide into 6 equal portions.
4Assemble: Use a large platter or baking sheet. Place one mushroom cap on bottom. Top with an eggplant, 2 bell pepper slices, eggplant, 1/6th of reserved sautéed spinach, eggplant, mozzarella cheese, 2-3 basil leaves, eggplant. The residual heat will melt the thin slice of mozzarella. Repeat to make 5 more towers.
5Skewers: Using your fingers, pull off, remove and discard all except about 1 inch of rosemary needles so you have a stick and use as a skewer for all 6 veggie towers.