SYRIAN-INSPIRED STUFFED BABY AUBERGINES WITH TWO-WAY QUINOA AND WALNUT CREAM

This is quite possibly one of my favourite recipes, but I might just be saying that because it is one of my only recipes in the past few months. I know, I know, I'm a shocking excuse for a blogger, but I got other real things to deal with, like running a start up (ongoing), shooting music videos in Ibiza (october) and relocating to Berlin to train for 200 hours non-stop to become a Strala Yoga Guide (current). Never the less, I do have so much content saved up to share with you guys and I'm finally organising ample time to do so - so please bear with me and stay intrigued :) In the meantime, here is another syrian-inspired recipe I created to support my friends at Suitcase Magazine, who are part of Unicef Next Generation's #cookforsyria campaign, running throughout November. To help raise awareness, and ultimately funds, I developed a series of recipes, and it is now time for these Syrian-inspired stuffed aubergines with two-way quinoa, crushed chickpeas, pine nuts, medjool dates and a tahini walnut cream sauce to shine.

INGREDIENTS

Base Ingredients
1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa (cook in vegetable stock, nutritional yeast or plain water)
10-12 baby aubergines or 5-6 large aubergines
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
pinch himalayan pink salt

For the Smokey Muhamara Quinoa
30g tomato puree
4 tablespoons olive oil
30g walnuts
3g paprika
1g turmeric
2g cumin
1g cinnamon
0.5-1g chilli powder
5g raw honey
2 tablespoons tahini
3/4 cup of the cooked quinoa and stir in the
40g pine nuts
20g dates, chopped
large pinch of fresh parsley
40g chickpeas, mashed with a fork

For the Plain Quinoa
3/4 cup cooked quinoa
1 tablespoon olive oil
1g turmeric
20g pine nuts
20g dates, chopped
40g chickpeas, mashed with a fork
large pinch of fresh parsley
1g cinnamon
pinch himalayan pink salt

For the Walnut Cream
100g Walnuts
130ml Water or nut milk
65ml Olive oil
Large pinch Salt
½ teaspoon Lemon juice
1 teaspoon tahini
Optional - garlic

METHOD

Preheat the oven to 180c. Halve your aubergines (slicing lengthways) and if using baby aubergines feel free to leave some of them whole. Brush the sliced sides with olive oil, sprinkle with a pinch of himalayan pink salt and place in the oven for 30 minutes. (The cooking time will depend on the size of your aubergines, but baby aubergines will need no longer than 40 minutes, and larger aubergines should be perfect after 40-50 minutes. Keep an eye on them and remove them from the oven when the inside flesh has become soft and juicy).

Meanwhile, prepare the filling and the walnut cream. If you haven't already cooked your quinoa, cook it now. Use roughly 1/2 cup raw quinoa to 1 cup water or stock, which will make roughyly 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa.

As your quinoa cooks, make the tomato and walnut muhammara-style paste. In a small herb blender / nut grinder, measure the tomato paste, olive oil, walnuts, paprika, turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, chilli powder, honey and tahini and blend until a smooth paste forms. Set aside until your quinoa is cooked.

Next, make the walnut cream. Simply add all of the ingredients to your blender and blend for 30 seconds on a low speed, and then for 30 seconds on a high speed. Scrape down the sides and continue to blend until the mixture forms into a smooth, thick liquid. The timings will depend on the power of your blender. Once you are happy with the result, pour into a jug or a serving bowl and chill in the fridge until ready to serve.

Once the quinoa has cooked and absorbed all of the liquid, rinse and drain completely. Divide the mixture, placing half in one bowl and half into a separate bowl. Stir the tomato and walnut paste into one bowl using a fork, mixing and mashing to combine. Stir through the pine nuts, dates and mashed chickpeas and set aside. To the other bolw of quinoa add the olive oil, turmeric, pine nuts, dates, chopped, chickpeas, pinch of fresh parsley, cinnamon and salt, mixing and mashing to combine.

Check your aubergines if you haven't already, and remove from the oven once they are cooked through. Use a teaspoon to gently scroop some of the flesh aside to make space for the quinoa. Don't remove the flesh, just push it to the sides of each aubergine half. Now, spoon the separate quinoa mixtures into the aubergines. (If you have mixture left over, offer it on the table or save it for another time).

If you want to serve the aubergines heated through, return to the oven now for 10 minutes. Alternatively, serve as they are (the quinoa will have cooled down completely but the aubergines should still be warm), or place in the fridge if you plan to serve them chilled.

When ready to serve, drizzle a few teaspoons of the walnut cream over each or some of the stuffed aubergines, or alternatively, offer the cream alongside the aubergines for people to help themselves to. Serve these as a side offering to meat or fish, or as a main meal with fresh salad.

+ Store aubergines in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.
+ Store walnut cream in an airtight container for up to 3 days.