Warm Egg­plant Salad with Hemp Seed Sauce

SERVES 8; Photo at right

SAVEUR - - Contents -

Ac­tive: 1 hr. 40 min. • To­tal: 2 hr.

The egg­plant in this warm, sub­stan­tial salad is used two ways; puréed into a baba ghan­nouj–like spread, and roasted then glazed with kvass, Rus­sia’s barely al­co­holic bev­er­age made from fer­mented brown bread. Chefs Ivan and Sergey Berezutskiy, who brew their own, say kvass gives the dish an ex­tra umami boost, but a com­pa­ra­ble re­place­ment can be made by adding a drop of ap­ple cider vine­gar to a dark, malty beer.

6 medium-small

egg­plants (2¾ lb.) 3 medium vine-ripe

toma­toes (14 oz.) ½ medium white onion 4½ cups (34 oz.) kvass or

flat, malty dark beer ¾ tsp. soy sauce 3 gar­lic cloves, lightly

crushed One 1-inch piece peeled

ginger, thinly sliced 1 small hot chile, such as

a Thai va­ri­ety, seeded 2 cups heavy cream 1½ tsp. kosher salt, plus

more as needed ¼ tsp. freshly ground

black pep­per ⅓ cup hemp seeds 16 small wedges or thin slices soft, lightly aged goat cheese such as Bûcheron or Chabi­chou (12 oz.) ½ cup ex­tra-vir­gin olive

oil 2 large hand­fuls fresh spinach (about 2 cups) Pick­led ramps or fresh sliced scal­lions, for gar­nish (op­tional)

1 Pre­heat the oven to 350°. Wrap 2 of the egg­plant, 1 tomato, and the onion in­di­vid­u­ally in foil and roast un­til soft, 45 min­utes to an hour. 2 Mean­while, in a medium saucepan, add the kvass, soy sauce, gar­lic, ginger, and chile; cook over high heat un­til re­duced to a third of the vol­ume, about 25 min­utes. Re­move and let cool.

3 In a sep­a­rate medium saucepan, add the cream; cook over medium-high heat un­til re­duced by half, about 12 min­utes. Re­move from heat.

4 Take the veg­eta­bles from the oven and dis­card the foil. Once cool enough to han­dle, skin the egg­plant and tomato. Coarsely chop the roasted veg­eta­bles.

5 Trans­fer roasted veg­eta­bles to a blender and sea­son with ¾ tea­spoon salt and ¼ tea­spoon pep­per; blend un­til smooth. Re­move and strain through a fine sieve, stir­ring and press­ing with a spat­ula.

6 In a spice grinder or small food pro­ces­sor, add three­quar­ters of the hemp seeds; process un­til finely ground and flour­like. Trans­fer to the pot with the cream and stir in the re­main­ing whole hemp seeds and ¾ tea­spoon salt; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Re­move and let cool.

7 Let cheese come to room tem­per­a­ture. Mean­while, cut re­main­ing egg­plant length­wise in ½-inch-thick slices and trans­fer to a parch­ment paper–lined bak­ing sheet. Brush both sides with olive oil and sea­son with salt; roast un­til ten­der, about 15 min­utes.

8 Re­trieve the egg­plant and brush the top of each slice with a tea­spoon of the pre­pared kvass sauce.

9 Cut each re­main­ing tomato into 6 wedges, and trans­fer to a sec­ond parch­ment paper– lined bak­ing sheet. Roast un­til the toma­toes are just warmed through, about 5 min­utes.

10 On a serv­ing plat­ter or 8 in­di­vid­ual plates, spread egg­plant purée in a thin layer. Scat­ter egg­plant slices, toma­toes, and cheese on top. Dip spinach leaves into the hemp sauce and ar­range on top of the veg­eta­bles. Spoon on some more hemp sauce, gar­nish as de­sired, and serve.

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