How exciting to share this recipe with you! I thought of this special sauce recently as our 22nd anniversary approached and we were expecting dinner guests. It was the star component in the first meal on which we collaborated for dinner guests as a newly married couple. And I can almost guarantee you have never had anything like it! The sauce recipe came from a culinary magazine but, sadly, I don't know which one, as I recopied the recipe and--shame on me--uncharacteristically did not credit the source. But I did write "Out of this world!" at the top. And it still is. The only change I made to the original recipe was to substitute vegetable broth for chicken broth and vegan butter for the dairy variety in addition to using about 30% less. We have served it over a variety of things, but this brand new combination was so tasty and so pretty that I wanted to share it with all of you.
Grilled Eggplant and Spinach With Black Bean Pecan Butter Sauce [Vegan]
- 1 medium eggplant (about 3-4 inches in diameter and 6 or so inches long), cut into scant 1/2-inch slices (about 12 slices)
- Sea salt to taste
- 3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika or to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric or to taste
- 1/3 cup vegetable broth
- 1/3 cup red wine
- 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 large shallot, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons minced cilantro
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup pecan pieces (you can substitute cashews in a pinch), lightly salted, and toasted at 350 for up to 10 minutes, checking a couple of times
- 2 roasted garlic cloves
- 4 small banana peppers, stemmed, split lengthwise, seeded, and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 8 tablespoons vegan butter
- 1 tablespoon minced chives
- 1-15.5 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
- Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Approximately 6 lightly packed cups tender fresh spinach leaves
- Sea salt to taste
- Line a baking pan or platter with paper towels.
- Lay eggplant slices on paper towels and lightly salt.
- Let sit for 20 minutes and then rinse and drain slices in a colander, return to baking pan, and pat dry with additional paper towels. (This process is necessary to remove any bitter taste, and while the eggplant rests is an optimal time to start the sauce.)
- In a medium bowl, whisk together olive oil, smoked paprika, turmeric, and more salt to taste.
- Gently toss eggplant slices in marinade, rubbing it onto both sides, and let them sit for another 10 minutes.
- Heat a seasoned and oiled grill pan over medium-high heat and grill eggplant for about 3 minutes on each side, brushing with any remaining marinade, or until tender with beautiful grill marks.
- In a 2-quart saucepan, combine the broth, wine, wine vinegar, shallot, coriander, and cilantro.
- Bring to a boil over moderate heat and boil until reduced to 2 tablespoons, or about 10 to 12 minutes.
- While mixture reduces make Pecan Butter: into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, add toasted pecans, roasted garlic, pepper chunks, 2 tablespoons of vegan butter, and chives.
- Process just until mixture comes together. Set aside.
- Once broth and wine mixture is reduced, whisk in remaining vegan butter, 2 tablespoons at a time. Then whisk in Pecan Butter.
- Stir in the black beans and season to taste with salt, pepper and lime juice. Heat through.
- In a large cast iron skillet over medium-high, heat olive oil.
- Add spinach and a pinch of salt, and saute, stirring continually, for 2 to 3 minutes or just until wilted but still bright green.
- Approximately 1/4 cup roasted and lightly salted pepitas or pumpkin seeds
- Place a bed of one-fourth of the sauteed spinach on each diner's plate.
- Top with 3 overlapped slices of grilled eggplant (try to give each person both smaller piece from the ends of the eggplant and a larger slice from the center).
- Top with a generous spoonful of sauce, sprinkle with pepitas and serve immediately.