Tomato Quinoa, Roasted Portobello Caps, Curried Zucchini, and Basil Oil Crumble
For the last few weeks, my CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) bag has been overflowing with zucchini. And zucchini is not one of my favorite vegetables, so this abundance of squash has been mildly distressing.
It was out of pure desperation that this recipe was born, and I must say…I’m kind of in love with it. It may just end up in regular rotation in my kitchen because the flavors are bold and the smells are absolutely aromatic. It’s totally mouth-watering.
I also decided to try my hand at a little molecular gastronomy (following a delightful class at Sur la Table with Chef Joe Lipinski). I was itching to use my tapioca maltodextrin to create some kind of powder or crumble. And who doesn’t love a little basil-infused oil?
Tapioca maltodextrin is a starch that’s extracted from the cassava plant (which is where tapioca comes from). This starch binds to fats and can create the most amazing powders – Nutella, infused oils, peanut butter…I’ve also found that as the maltodextrin is being mixed with your fat, it first becomes light and foamy before becoming a powder. Imagine the possibilities!
When this powder hits the saliva in your tongue, it becomes smooth and creamy again. It’s a fantastic trick of food chemistry with a wide range of applications.
Of course, I believe food is best consumed in its most natural state – both for the flavor and the nutrition. However, when used in moderation, techniques such as powders and foams can be quite fun and bring an unexpected twist to a meal. Just think WOW factor!
If you don’t have tapioca maltodextrin on hand, this dish will still be utterly fabulous with the basil-infused oil drizzled on the finished product.
Have you tried your hand at molecular gastronomy? Have you seen something from modernist cuisine you’ve always wanted to try? Comment below and let me know!
- – 1 cup quinoa, thoroughly rinsed
- – 1 cup crushed fire-roasted tomatoes
- – 1 cup filtered water
- – Pinch of salt
- – 1 Tbsp coconut oil
- – 1 small red onion, diced
- – 3 garlic cloves, minced
- – 2 zucchini, diced*
- – 1 tsp curry powder
- – 1 tsp dried oregano, or 1 Tbsp fresh oregano
- – 1 tsp dried parsley
- – 1/4 tsp rosemary
- – 1/4 tsp Himalayan or Celtic sea salt
- – 1/4 tsp crushed black pepper
- – 4 Portobello mushrooms, stems and ribs removed, tops cleaned*
- BASIL OIL CRUMBLE
- – 6-8 large basil leaves, washed and thoroughly dried
- – 1/4 cup EVOO (around 25 grams)
- – 10-13 grams tapioca maltodextrin (optional)
- 1. Combine the quinoa, tomatoes, water, and a pinch of salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes without removing the lid. Remove from heat, and let stand with the lid on for 4-5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
- 2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- 3. As the quinoa is cooking, heat the coconut oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot and shimmering, add the onion. Stir occasionally, cooking for 5-7 minutes until translucent. Stir in the garlic, zucchini, and remaining spices. Reduce heat to medium, and cook about 3 minutes.
- 4. Drizzle a touch of oil in the bottom of a 9×13 glass baking dish and spread with a brush or paper towel to coat bottom. Place the mushroom caps top side down and fill each with a generous scoop of the zucchini mixture. Cover your dish with aluminum foil, tenting slightly. Bake 15 minutes.
- 5. As the mushrooms are baking, crush the basil leaves between your fingers to release the oils. Place in a small saucepan with the EVOO and warm over low heat for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.
- 6. You can puree the oil and leaves in a food processor and use.
- 7. Or, for a modernist take on the dish, pour the oil through a fine mesh strainer. Once cool, slowly add the tapioca maltodextrin while whisking constantly. The oil will first become thick and foamy, and as you continue to add the tapioca, will slowly become a powder. Choose your favorite consistency for plating.
- 8. To serve, place a scoop of quinoa on your plate. Top with a mushroom cap, then the basil oil (liquid or crumble). A light sprinkle of finishing salt would be perfection.
- * This dish is fantastic if you swap the zucchini and the mushrooms. To do this, dice 2 (TWO) mushroom caps and cook as above with the onion. Halve and hollow 4 zucchini. Instead of coating the baking dish with oil, pour 3/4 cup of hot water into the baking dish and a squeeze of lemon. This will keep the zucchini moist and help them cook through in the oven.