Friday, March 8, 2013

Franco-Moroccan Inspired Eggplant, Squash and Tempeh Crumble...

Who doesn’t love a good crumble? On a crisp fall evening there are few better ways to end the night then with a warm homemade apple or plum crumble. Am I right? But, have you ever had a savory crumble before? Have you ever eaten crumble for dinner? Yeah neither had I, until I came across a savory crumble recipe in Beatrice Peltre’s ‘La Tartine Gourmande’ that caught my interest. I was so intrigued by the idea that I did a little internet research and as it turns out crumbles in general are thought to be of British or Irish origin, and have always been made in both sweet and savory varieties, although the sweet versions are far more common. Interestingly crumbles didn’t become a popular or widespread menu item until the second world war, when strict rationing of flour, sugar and butter made it nearly impossible for people to make pies since pie crusts require so much of the three rationed ingredients. Instead some ingenious people decided to make the pie filling and throw a crust-like mixture on top, and since it was so easy, and cheap to make it really caught fire. Cool right?

Anyway, crumble for dinner? I’d never considered such a thing before, but all this information really got me interested in trying one out for myself, the only thing I had to figure out was what kind of crumble to make. Peltre’s recipe used eggplant and squash and had a gluten-free crust and I liked the idea of those things. Eggplant and squash I both had on hand and they fueled my daydreams of warmer more hospitable climates such as those in the Mediterranean, the South of France, Africa and The Middle East. So I took that inspiration and ran with it, combining a mixture of Middle Eastern and French elements to form this super savory, slightly tangy, a tad sweet, flavor packed and decadent crumble. I kept the idea fo a gluten-free crumble topping because, well why the hell not? But I added cooked amaranth and nutritional yeast to make it a bit more substantial and to give it that creamy cheesy flavor that savory crumbles are suppose to boast.

I had no idea how this experiment was going to work out, but in the end I was more then surprised. This was definitely one of the most surprisingly delicious meals I’d made in some time. No matter how odd you might think the idea of a savory crumble is, the bottom line is that this worked. Plain and simple, it was so delicious that there’s no doubt you’ll go back for seconds! I know this recipe has a few steps, and it requires you to dirty a few different dishes but trust me when I say every ounce of effort is so worth it! So expand your horizons and give it a try.

Franco-Moroccan Inspired Eggplant, Squash and Tempeh Crumble 

For the Tempeh 

1lb Tempeh
1 Tbsp Fennel Seed
1 tsp Dried Basil
1 tsp Dried Oregano
1 tsp Onion Powder
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
1/4 tsp Ground Mace
1 ½ C Water + 1 Beef Bouillon Cube
3/4 C Red Wine

For The Crumble Topping 

2/3 C Finely Chopped Walnuts
1/3 C Millet Flour
1/4 C Brown Rice Flour
4 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast
1/4 C Amaranth Cooked in 3/4 C Water
1 tsp Ground Cumin
Sea Salt and Black Pepper to taste
4 Tbsp Earth Balance
½ Bunch Parsley Minced

For The Crumble Filling 

1 Medium Butternut Squash, peeled, seeded and chopped. Roughly 4 C
1 Medium Eggplant chopped. Roughly 4 C
4 Tomatoes Blanched, peeled and chopped
1 Large Yellow Onion Chopped
2 Stalks Celery Chopped
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
8 Garlic Cloves Minced
1 tsp Ground Cumin
1 tsp Ground Coriander
8oz Tomato Sauce
1 tsp Dried Rubbed Sage
½ tsp Ground Cinnamon
Sea Salt and Black Pepper to taste
1/3 C Chopped Sun-dried tomatoes
6 Tbsp Capers with liquid

To Make the Tempeh -

- Mix 1 Beef Bouillon cube with 1 C of water.

- Crumble the Tempeh into a large pan, and add all the spices. Cover with the water/Bouillon mixture and the red wine. There should be enough liquid to cover the tempeh but it depends on the size of your pan. If it doesn’t quite cover add up to ½ C more.

- Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer on medium or medium-low until all or most of the liquid has been absorbed by the tempeh. Roughly 20-25 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.

To Make the Filling - 

- Heat the olive oil in the same pan you used to make your tempeh mixture. Add the onion, celery and garlic and saute for roughly five minutes. Add the cumin, coriander, cinnamon, black pepper and salt and cook for another two minutes.

- Add the blanched chopped tomatoes, the tomato paste, the chopped eggplant and the cubed squash. Stir to thoroughly combine, then cover. Over medium-high heat let the mixture come to a roaring simmer, let simmer for 5 minutes then stir, and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer the mixture for another 25 minutes. Make sure to check frequently to make sure the liquid doesn’t evaporate and the filling doesn’t burn. If it is looking too dry add a quarter cup of water.

- After 25 minutes add the tempeh mixture into the pan, along with the sage, capers, and sun-dried tomatoes. Stir well to combine and simmer an additional 10 minutes until squash is nice and tender.

- Remove from heat, and spoon the mixture into a large greased casserole dish.

- To Make the Crumble Topping.

- While your mixture is simmering combine all dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl.

- Melt the Earth Balance in the microwave, and add it into the dry mixture along with the cooked amaranth. Mix until nice and crumbly.

To Assemble and Bake.

- Preheat the oven to 400'F

- Spread the crumble mixture evenly over top of the filling in the greased casserole dish. Then place the casserole dish uncovered into the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until filling is bubbly and topping is lightly browned.

- Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes. Then enjoy with a nice salad and a glass of sangria!

*** Note - If you need this to be soy-free you can replace the tempeh with Seitan. However if you need this to be soy and gluten-free you can try replacing the tempeh with a bean of your choosing. Either chickpeas or something hearty would be my suggestion.***

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