Warm Eggplant Salad with Hemp Seed Sauce
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.
Featured in: The Brothers Berezutskiy and the New Russian Cuisine
- 6 medium-small eggplants (2 3/4 lb.)
- 3 medium vine-ripe tomatoes (14 oz.)
- 1⁄2 medium white onion
- 4 1⁄2 cups (34 oz.) kvass or flat, malty dark beer
- 3⁄4 tsp. soy sauce
- 3 cloves garlic, slightly crushed
- One 1-inch piece peeled ginger, thinly sliced
- 1 small hot chile, such as a Thai variety, seeded
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 1⁄2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more as needed
- 1⁄4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 1⁄3 cup hemp seeds
- 16 small wedges or thin slices soft, lightly aged goat cheese such as Bûcheron or Chabichou (12 oz.)
- 1⁄2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 large handfuls fresh spinach (about 2 cups)
- Pickled ramps or fresh sliced scallions, for garnish (optional)
- 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.
- 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.
- In a separate medium saucepan, add the cream; cook over medium-high heat until reduced by half, about 12 minutes. Remove from heat.
- 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.
- Transfer roasted vegetables to a blender and season with 3⁄4 teaspoon salt and 1⁄4 teaspoon pepper; blend until smooth. Remove and strain through a fine sieve, stirring and pressing with a spatula.
- In a spice grinder or small food processor, add three-quarters 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 3⁄4 teaspoon salt; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove and let cool.
- Let cheese come to room temperature. Meanwhile, cut remaining eggplant lengthwise in 1⁄2-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.
- Retrieve the eggplant and brush the top of each slice with a teaspoon of the prepared kvass sauce.
- 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.
- 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.