Ever since I tried the amazing heritage tomatoes from Jenny McNally’s stall in the Temple Bar Farmer’s Market I’ve been trying to think of a recipe worthy of blogging about. Unfortunately these tomatoes are so good all I’ve been doing is eating them with a bit of Maldon salt or maybe as part of a Caprese salad with the equally amazing Toonsbridge mozzarella. Given that I’m pretty sure nobody needs instructions on how to salt a tomato this had left me at a bit of a loss as to what to write about.
With the season nearing its end I remembered that I still had one last quinoa salad in my series and what better way to finish up than with the last of some of my favourite vegetables: tomatoes, aubergines, fennel and peppers. I initially thought I was basing this dish on caponata but when I look at the ingredients now it it’s actually closer to ratatouille than anything else.
There’s also a Spanish influence with the addition of toasted almonds and a Romesco style puree made from the roasted peppers. In fact, this sauce was a revelation and it strikes me as very versatile: I could see it working well with fish or chicken especially. It’s is a good thing too because I made way too much and will have to find a use for the leftovers still in my fridge!
For the roasted pepper sauce
Grape seed oil
1 red pepper
½ clove garlic, crushed
5g hot smoked paprika
150g Greek style yoghurt
For the quinoa salad
3 springs thyme
1 medium aubergine, chopped into 2.5cm pieces
1 large fennel bulb, chopped into 8 pieces
3 large tomatoes, quartered
250g vegetable stock
5g fennel seeds, toasted and ground
15g pine nuts
15g almond flakes
2.5ml red wine vinegar
- For the roasted pepper sauce, cut the pepper in half and rub the skin with some oil.
- Place cut side down under a grill and roast until the skin is completely black.
- When done, wrap the pepper halves in cling film and leave to cool for 15 minutes.
- Peel the blackened skin off and put the pepper’s flesh in a blender.
- Add the garlic, paprika and yoghurt to the blender and process until smooth.
- Season to taste and reserve in the fridge.
- For the quinoa salad, preheat an oven to 180°C.
- Place the aubergine, fennel and thyme in a baking tray and toss liberally with olive oil.
- Bake for around 25 minutes, shaking occasionally to ensure even cooking.
- Add the tomatoes to the tray and bake for another 25 minutes.
- Meanwhile, add the quinoa to a pot with the vegetable stock.
- Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat to a bare simmer.
- Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid for 15 minutes.
- When the quinoa is done, remove from the heat and leave to steam for 5 minutes.
- Heat some olive oil in a pan over a medium heat.
- Add the pine nuts and almonds and cook until golden brown, around 2-3 minutes. Reserve.
- Place the quinoa in a large bowl and add the roasted vegetables (with the thyme stalks removed) and ground fennel.
- Pour in the red wine vinegar and mix the ingredients thoroughly. Adjust the seasoning if required.
- Divide the salad between two bowls and sprinkle with the nuts; drizzle over some of the roasted pepper sauce and serve the rest on the side.