When making this, keep in mind that the most important flavour is the eggplant: Both the Sicilian and Japanese varieties have the sweetness you are looking for. I like to precook the quinoa and rinse it only slightly to preserve the flavour. The dressing is open to interpretation, but a touch of balsamic vinegar, fresh basil and olive oil work wonders.
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Chef Massimo Capra is co-owner of Mistura and Sopra Upper Lounge in Toronto and the Rainbow Room Fallsview Restaurant in Niagara Falls, Ont.
8 slices eggplant, ½-inch thick
1 cup quinoa
4 balls mozzarella di bufala, cut into½-inch slices
1 cup fresh tomatoes, diced small
1 bunch of basil, finely chopped
1 bunch chives, chopped
1 cup carrots, finely julienned
1 cup celery, finely julienned
½ cup black olives, coarsely chopped
¼ cup capers
1 bunch watercress
Olive oil to taste
Balsamic vinegar to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Lightly salt the eggplantslices on both sides and reston a towel for about 10 minutes. Boil the quinoa in seasonedwater for about 20 minutes (or untildone to your liking). Strain andcool without rinsing.
Prepare a tomato salsa by mixing the diced tomato with some chopped basil and chives according to taste; season with salt, pepper and olive oiland set aside.
In a bowl, combine carrots, celery,olives, capers and most of the tomato salsa. Add the quinoa, mix well and season with a touch of salt and pepper and a splash of balsamic vinegar.
Preheat a skillet and add some oliveoil, lay the eggplant slices in the panand sear for a few minutes on eachside, being careful not to overcook them. Remove from the pan.
To assemble the “sandwiches,” place a slice of eggplant in the centreof a plate and cover with a handful of watercress. Place a scoop of quinoa salad on top, follow with some mozzarella di bufala and finish with the other slice of eggplant.
Drizzle the remaining tomato salsa around the plate and serve immediately.
Suggested Wine Pairings
I don’t know about you, but I’ve never stuffed quinoa, that fashionable grain-like seed, into a sandwich before. Nor have I deployed eggplant slices in place of bread. This is one magical,off-beat recipe. It deserves a magical wine that can zip throughthe creamy, zesty, nutty, crunchy flavours. Look to central orsouthern Italy, the source of delectably silky yet crisp whites such as fiano di Avellino, Greco di Tufo, falanghina or insolia.
But you could fare almost as well with more familiar and readily available choices, such as sauvignon blanc, good pinot grigio or an unoaked chardonnay.
- Beppi Crosariol