I recently put this ridiculously delicious appetizer on the summer Eight Course Vegan Tasting Menu for the Illuminati Ball. I’m really enjoying changing the dishes out to use seasonal ingredients. The Illuminati Ball has been extended until the end of October! If you read these recipes and think “That sounds great, but I’d rather have someone else cook it for me!” then you should apply to buy a ticket by following this link.
When the local tomatoes were ready my plan was to make this amazing Moroccan Tomato Jam from A Recipe For Gluttony. Everyone should try that recipe, which is a brilliant adaptation of a tomato sauce from the classic Paula Wolfert tome on Moroccan cookery. However, as much as I love the tomato jam, it really does want to be paired with cheese and the Illuminati Ball is entirely vegan. Also, an obscene quantity of tomatoes only produced a demure amount of tomato jam. I’m feeding 35 people, so I needed something to make the appetizer more substantial. That’s where the eggplant (and a bit of garlic) came in! The eggplant makes this appetizer rich and satisfying on its own. Don’t worry, I’ve paired down the amounts to serve a typical dinner party!I am obsessed with these crackers, which are the invention of Sarah B. of My New Roots Fame. My only adaptation to them is the particular combination of seeds that I’ve added for seasoning and a few logistical notes about parchment paper size and counteracting an uneven oven. Follow this link for the original recipes for Rosemary Crackers and Fig Anise Crackers. Both are fabulous. My seeded version goes well with the tomato eggplant appetizer though.
TOMATO AND EGGPLANT APPETIZER WITH SWEET MOROCCAN SPICES
Inspired by the Moroccan Tomato Jam from A Recipe for Gluttony
- 2 pounds ripe tomatoes
- 1 and 1/2 pounds eggplant
- kosher salt
- 1 whole garlic clove, peeled
- 3 Tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 or 2 Tablespoon honey (I use date molasses as a vegan substitute. Agave would work as well.)
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon Aleppo or Urfa chili pepper (or cayenne would work as well.)
- 2 Tablespoons sesame seeds
- 1 Tablespoon orange blossom water
- salt and pepper to taste
- Roast the tomatoes in a 400 degree oven for an hour or so until they are really soft. Allow them to cool a little and peel them. Squeeze the extra liquid out of them and save it for another purpose (like gazpacho!)
- Meanwhile, slice the eggplant. Spread the slices out and sprinkle both sides with kosher salt. Let them sweat for 15 minutes.
- While the eggplants sweat, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a small saute pan and poach the garlic clove over very low heat until it is is very soft and golden. Remove the garlic from the oil and mince or mash it. Set the minced garlic aside and reserve the olive oil.
- Wipe the liquid off of the eggplant with paper towels. Dip each dried slice in the garlic infused olive oil, spread them out on a baking sheet and roast them until they are soft and starting to brown a bit (15-20 minutes on each side).
- Toast the sesame seeds over low heat in a large dry frying pan until they are golden. Set aside.
- In the same frying pan frying pan, heat the remaining Tablespoon of olive oil until shimmering and add the strained tomatoes. Cook them until most of the moisture has gone. This should take around 10 minutes but it depends on the tomatoes. They are ready when they start to brown and look dry and are turning almost to a paste.
- Add the minced garlic, honey or date syrup, cinnamon, paprika and chili pepper. Continue to cook for a minute or two to warm the spices through then take it off the heat.
- Add the orange blossom water and toasted sesame seeds.
- When the eggplant is done, dice it and fold it into the tomato mixture.
- Season with salt and pepper.
SAVORY SEED CRACKERS
barely adapted from My New Roots
- 1 cup raw sunflower seeds
- 1/2 cup whole flax seeds
- 1/3 cup raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
- 1/4 cup raw sesame seeds
- 1 and 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
- 2 Tablespoons chia seeds
- 1/4 cup psyllium seed husks
- 1 and ½ teaspoons fine grain sea salt
- 1 teaspoon cumin seed
- 1 teaspoon fennel seed
- 1 teaspoon caraway seed
- 1 teaspoon ajwain (available in Indian markets. Skip it if is too hard to find.)
- 1 teaspoon crushed pink peppercorns
- 1 Tablespoon maple syrup
- 3 Tablespoons melted coconut oil
- 1 and ½ cups water
- You will need two metal baking sheets with low sides. Cut three sheets of parchment paper the same size of your baking sheets.
- In a large bowl combine all the dry ingredients, stirring well (pay special attention to making sure that the psyllium husk is evenly distributed).
- Whisk the maple syrup, oil and water together in a large measuring cup. Add the wet to the dry ingredients and mix very well until everything is completely soaked and dough becomes very thick (I use my hands so that I can work quickly and tell if there are any pockets of dry ingredients).
- Divide the dough roughly in half. Gather half of the dough into a ball and place it between two sheets of parchment paper. Using a rolling-pin (or a wine bottle), firmly roll out into a thin sheet. Remove top layer of parchment paper.
- Using the tip of a knife (or a metal spatula) score the dough into shapes you like (squares, rectangles, diamonds). Using the parchment paper, slide the scored sheet of dough onto one of the baking sheets. Reuse the top sheet of parchment and the remaining sheet to repeat the process with the other half of the dough. Let it sit out on the counter for at least 2 hours, or all day or overnight.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake the crackers for 20 minutes. Remove cookie sheets from oven, flip the whole cracker over (if it breaks a bit, don’t worry!) and peel the parchment paper off of the back. If your oven is uneven rotate your sheets before returning them to oven. Bake for another 10 minutes, until fully dry, crisp, and golden around the edges.
- Let the crackers cool completely, then break them along their scored lines and store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks. These crackers have never lasted 3 weeks in my presence.
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