Chef Tal Ronnen, owner of West Hollywood’s Crossroads, and his executive chef Scott Jones demonstrated their flavorful vegetarian cuisine for well-healed foodies at Sun Valley Lodge. Although Sun Valley, a celebrity studded Idaho town, may be out of budget for many, Ronnen and Jones’ cuisine at Crossroads is well within the means of the average working American. Chefs to A-list celebrities, Tal Ronnen’s bestselling The Conscious Cook will intrigue any carnivore.
Chef Tal Ronnen’s Crossroads eggplant caponata over toasted buckwheat and black quinoa
Ingredients for the caponata
- 5 large sweet red peppers, roasted and diced
- 2 large eggplant, peeled and diced
- 2 medium to large white onions, diced
- 3 ribs celery, diced
- 4 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 Tablespoon minced fresh garlic
- 3 Tablespoons capers
- 3 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 cups tomato puree
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- 1 Teaspoon red pepper flakes
Preparation for the caponata
- Preheat the oven to 500°F (260°C).
- Place the red peppers on a lightly oiled or parchment paper lined sheet pan.
- Roast the peppers for 30 minutes turning every 10 minutes.
- Remove the peppers from the oven and place in a paper bag. Roll the top of the bag shut and cool for 30 minutes.
- Remove the peppers and slip off the charred skin. Discard the seeds and dice the peppers. You should have approximately 2 to 2-1/2 cups diced pepper.
6. Heat a wide deep (4”) pot on medium high heat for a couple minutes. Add the olive oil and heat for 30 seconds. Add the eggplant, onions and celery and sauté for several minutes stirring a couple times. Add the red peppers and cook for 3 minutes more.
7. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer.
8. Reduce the heat to maintain a low simmer and cook uncovered for 1 hour stirring every 8 minutes.
9. Remove from heat and add salt and pepper to taste.
Note: The caponata will stay fresh covered and refrigerated for several days and makes a terrific cold appetizer on crackers or topping for bruschetta.
Ingredients for quinoa
The use of black quinoa is for color contrast, not taste. Therefore any color quinoa is fine.
- 1 cup black quinoa
- 3 cups water or vegetable stock
- 1/2 Teaspoon salt
Preparation for quinoa
- Place the quinoa in a bowl, cover with cold water and let sit for 5 minutes. Drain through a strainer and rinse.
- Bring the water or stock to a boil. Add the quinoa and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. When done the quinoa will display a tiny white thread.
- Drain through a sieve and return to the pan. Cover the pan and let rest for 10 minutes.
Ingredients for the toasted buckwheat
- 1 cup toasted buckwheat (kasha)
- 2 cups water
- 1/4 Teaspoon salt
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- fresh ground pepper to taste
Preparation for the toasted buckwheat
- If you have purchased untoasted buckwheat (kasha), place the buckwheat in a dry sauté pan and toast over high heat, stirring constantly, for 3 to 4 minutes.
- In a medium saucepan bring the water, oil and salt to a boil. Add the buckwheat and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed.
Place a generous spoonful of quinoa and buckwheat, side-by-side, on a dinner plate. Place a generous serving of caponata on top but leave each of the grains still visible on the sides. Serve with a tossed salad or a Greek salad and a crisp dry Sauvignon blanc and you have a delicious vegetarian meal.
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