Saturday, December 24, 2011

Quinoa with smoky eggplant and roast pepper

I finally got some quinoa. I tried this grain twice before - at Terresa's class in Paris and in Corner Burger in Moscow. Both times I found it completely amazing so I cooked it at home to share the finding with my family. Yes, they did indeed like it. But as soon as I set down and started eating I realized I was making it just for myself.

This particular dish is my interpretation of something we made at Terresa's class. Vegetables are Terresa's passion and she is the one who knows how to make them sing. That's why each of the three toppings here is very flavorful and the combination of them all with quinoa for me tastes completely irresistible.

The recipe may look long but there is definitely nothing more complicated in there then cooking vegetables and steaming a grain. It takes some 1.5 hours of quite relaxed cooking, which also might seem like a lot. But I swear it is more than worth it.

Quinoa with smoky eggplant, roast pepper and lemon&basil oil (inspired by Terresa)

serves 4

For the quinoa:

150 g white quinoa
zest and juice of half a lemon
2 table spoons of extra virgin olive oil
sea salt to taste

For the smoky eggplant sauce:

2 large eggplants
2-3 tea spoons of lemon juice
1-2 tea spoons of balsamic vinegar
1 table spoon extra virgin olive oil
sea salt to taste

For the roast pepper sauce:

2 large red bell peppers
1 red onion (peeled and diced)
1 table spoon olive oil
tiny pinch of salt

For the lemon and basil oil:

zest of one lemon
handful of green basil leaves, roughly chopped
3 table spoons of extra virgin olive oil

Start from roasting vegetables. Heat the oven to 240C. Score the eggplants lengthwise on one side. Place the eggplants and peppers on a baking sheet lined with foil (do not use any oil) and stick in in the oven.

You will need to turn the peppers 1-2 times as they will brown on the sides (every 15 - 20 minutes). The peppers are ready when the sides have browned and some spots start turning black. This will take 40 - 45 minutes. Take the peppers off the baking sheet (leave the eggplants there and return them to the oven). Place the peppers in a bowl, cover and let steam for around 15 minutes.

The eggplants do not need any turning. They are ready when the skin is virtually black. It takes 1 hour and 5 - 10 minutes. Take them out of the oven and let cool for 15 minutes.

While the vegetables are roasting you will have enough time to prepare the rest. Combine all the ingredients for the lemon and basil oil and set aside. During an hour or so the lemon and basil will infuse the oil.

To make the quinoa bring 300 ml of water to the boil in a medium pan, add 1 tea spoon of salt and stir in the quinoa. Put the lid on, bring back to boil and cook on low heat for 15 minutes. Take off the heat and leave covered for 15 more minutes. Take the lid off and flake with a fork. Set aside to cool a bit. Stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice and olive oil and stir to combine. Add salt to taste if necessary.

To make the roast pepper sauce heat 1 table spoon of olive oil in a small pan. Add the red onion and cook stirring on medium heat for 5-7 minutes till it gets translucent and starts to caramelize.

Take off the heat. The peppers should already cool down a bit and become softer. Use your fingers to skin and deseed them. Dice the flash, combine with the caramelized onion and a pinch of salt.

To make the smoky eggplant sauce. Cut the eggplants lengthwise and carefully take out the white flash.

Make sure to separate all the black skin and discard it. Flake the flash with a fork, it will easily get to puree texture. Dress with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice and salt to taste.

Serve the quinoa warm, topped with lemon and basil oil with smoky eggplant sauce and roast pepper sauce at room temperature on the side.


Cooking with class in Paris: Terresa on Organic Vegetarian
Dinner at Corner Burger (CBBG 76) Moscow

Quinoa salad
Rice with green lentils (inspired by Kitchari)
Cooking buckwheat
Pumpkin and ginger cream soup
Roasted vegetables

Terresa's site la Cucina di TerrESa

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