"Chose promise, chose due!" This is a French expression that translates as promises are made to be kept.
As promised, this is the recipe of the vegetarian equivalent of fish caviar that I served my "vegetarian" dinner guests last night. I paired it with mini-crumpets and a little dollop of crème fraîche in between.
This recipe was inspired by the Tassajara Cookbook by Karla Oliveira, which is an excellent resource for vegetarian party food recipes. The quinoa grains and eggplant seeds resemble the original fish eggs. It is basically eggplant caviar, very similar to baba ganoush, mixed with cooked quinoa.
For more flavor, I topped it with an Asian-style mint and cilantro sauce that added a beautiful, bright green color.
1. Info for Vegetarian Quinoa and Eggplant Caviar
- Cook Time: unavailable
- Total Time: unavailable
- Servings: 10
- Calories: unavailable
2. Ingredients for Vegetarian Quinoa and Eggplant Caviar
- 1 medium-sized eggplant
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons canola oil
- 1 cup quinoa, uncooked
- 2 cups water
- 1/3 cup nori sheets, chopped
- 1/4 cup unifiltered apple juice, as needed
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
- 1-1/2 teaspoons ginger garlic paste (see tips)
- 1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel
- 1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns, freshly ground
- 1 jalapeño, roasted, skinned, seeded, finely
- 1/3 cup fresh mint, stemmed and chopped
- 2/3 cup cilantro, chopped
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 50 mini-crumpet (see recipe from yesterday)
- 1-1/2 cups crème fraîche
- For the eggplant: Preheat the oven at 400°F.
- Wash the eggplant and pat it dry. Cut the eggplant in half. Brush the skin with oil. Reserve one half. Season this half with 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Set aside.
- Place a grill on your stove, then char all the skin of the other half of the eggplant as you would with bell peppers (see tips). Wrap in aluminum foil. Place this half on a greased baking sheet as well as the other half of the eggplant, skin side down. Bake for about 35 minutes. The flesh of the eggplant should be soft. Let the eggplant cool for about 15 minutes.
- Remove the skin. Scoop all the eggplant flesh onto a cutting board. Chop it finely into a puree. Transfer into a bowl. Set aside until the rest is ready.
- For the quinoa: In a medium-sized pan, combine the quinoa with water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook, uncovered, for about 20 minutes. Add about 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Stir to prevent the grains from sticking. You want to make sure that the heat is on low. Cover and cook for another 15 minutes.
- This might take longer than the cooking instructions on the package but this way, the quinoa will be nice and tender. Fluff the quinoa with a fork. Let it cool completely. Set aside.
- For the Asian-style mint and cilantro sauce: In a bowl, combine the chopped nori, the apple juice and soy sauce. Set aside.
- In a small pan, heat the walnut oil. Add half the amount of the onions and mustard seeds and cook until they are slightly golden (3-4 minutes). Add the ginger garlic paste. Cook for another minute. Add the nori mixture with its liquid. Turn off the heat. Season with fleur de sel and pepper. Let it cool completely.
- In a blender or a mini-blender if you have one, mix the onion/nori mixture, the roasted jalapeño, mint, cilantro, sugar, rice vinegar and the rest of the red onion. Add more apple juice (about 1-1/2 tablespoons) if the blender does not flow smoothly. Set aside.
- Assembly time: In a large bowl, combine the mint/cilantro sauce, the roasted eggplant and the quinoa.
- Plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve.
- Serving suggestion: Place all the crumpets on a serving platter. Spoon about 1/2 tablespoon of crème fraîche on each crumpet. Top with a tablespoon of quinoa and eggplant caviar. Garnish with a leaf of cilantro.
- Bon appétit!