This is a recipe I came up with as an appetizer while visiting some friends (one of whom I’ve turned into a quinoa obsessive---that would be his ugly salad plate). Here I’m doing the Catalan version of aioli, Catalonia being the next door neighbor to France’s nether parts. Colman Andrews refers to allioli as the “Catalan Catsup” because it’s used on everything you can think of. It’s arguable which side of the frontier it originated on.
The food platform calls for grilled bell peppers and black quinoa. You can do this almost in your sleep, except that you shouldn’t sleep while the peppers are on fire.
red bell peppers
2 cups water or chicken stock
pine nuts, toasted
5 (or more cloves of garlic)
2 egg yolks
½ teaspoon fleur de del (or other sea salt)
1 cup arbequina olive oil* (or other light Spanish olive oil)
Grab your tongs and light your burners. Grill the peppers directly on your flaming range top or else outside over a wood grill. Either method works. Turn the peppers constantly while they are over the hot flames. When black all around drop them into a paper sack and seal up, or else into a large bowl which you can cover with plastic wrap.
Toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet and set aside.
Chop the scallion.
When the peppers are cool enough to handle rub off the burnt black skin (it’s okay if a little is left on---it looks sexy), stem and seed them .
Cook the quinoa as usual using the 1 to 2 ratio, quinoa to liquid for about 15 minutes until cooked through.
In a bowl mix cooked quinoa, pine nuts and scallions along with a drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.
To plate up scoop the black quinoa mixture in to the pepper shells (it should be spilling out). Add a big smear of allioi to each plate.
Being a lazy sod I use a blender or food processor for this job.
Begin by chopping the garlic and then mash it into a paste along with the salt in a mortar. Add that to the bottom of your blender along with the egg yolks.
With the motor running drizzle in the arbequina oil until it becomes a mayonnaise you would recognize.
*Note to cook, arbequinas are olives native to Catalonia and it’s fairly easy to find imported oil made from them but I must add that arbequina oils are being produced in California now and I really like the intensity of flavor you get from them.
Standup commis flâneur, and food historian. Pierino's background is in Italian and Spanish cooking but of late he's focused on frozen desserts. He is now finishing his cookbook, MALAVIDA! Can it get worse? Yes, it can. Visit the Malavida Brass Knuckle cooking page at Facebook and your posts are welcome there.