grilled eggplant quinoa salad

30 08 2012

another day, another quinoa salad, right?!  lately i feel like i have been obsessed with quinoa… but in all seriousness, it’s so tasty, and so good for you compared to other rice-y/grain-y options!

a while back, i received a few bottles of chile olive oil because of my participation in an HGEats twitter chat.  although i have significantly reduced the amount of oils i use in my cooking, there is always room for some good “healthy” fat, and i knew i wanted to save these samples for something special.  this past weekend, my parents came over for a combined birthday brunch (my mom’s birthday and mine are just five days apart!), and i whipped up this salad with veg from my CSA share.  it’s TIU-approved and is actually quite versatile — delicious with the veggies still warm from the grill, still delicious chilled in the fridge the next day.  click through for the recipe and olive oil review.

the chile olive oil i received came in two limited edition varieties: “smooth” and “bold”.  for this recipe, i used the bold flavor. i found it to have just enough of a “bite” to be interesting — a peppery, slightly bitter flavor that asserted itself in a good “i am olive oil, hear me roar” way, but didn’t overwhelm the other flavors in the dish.  the oil is a beautiful green color, silky smooth, and quite viscous (when you pour it in a measuring spoon, it really coats the spoon, so that the full measured amount doesn’t come out unless you hang the spoon upside down for a while!).  since cracking the bottle open for the [uncooked] dressing for this quinoa salad, i have also used the oil in two cooked applications (kale chips and brussels sprouts), and the flavor has withstood both low and moderate oven temperatures well.  overall, i really like this olive oil and would definitely consider buying it when i run out, provided it’s comparable in price to the other oils i regularly buy.

quinoa salad with grilled eggplant and fresh tomatoes — makes 6 side-serving-sized portions

  • 1 scant cup of dry quinoa (i love tru roots “sprouted trio” blend)
  • approx. 6 baby eggplants (the thin, pale-ish purple ones — mine weighed 410 grams total)
  • 3 1/2 cups arugula, roughly torn (about 1/2 of the large bunch of mature leaves i received in my CSA share)
  • 1 cup of fresh basil leaves, roughly torn
  • approx. 400 grams (2 cups-ish) of tomatoes of your choice — i used a mix of small (Roma-shaped) yellow tomatoes and tiny red ones
  • for the dressing: 4 tbsp. limited edition bold chile olive oil, juice of 2 lemons, 1/2 tsp. himalayan pink salt, 1/2 tsp. coarsely-ground black bepper, and 1/2 tsp. dried marjoram
  1. boil 1 cup of water and add the quinoa, covering and reducing to a low simmer.  cook the quinoa for about 12 minutes (until water is absorbed), and then turn the heat off and allow it to continue to steam with the lid on.  after about 10 more minutes, fluff with a fork, and transfer to a wide plate or dish to allow to cool.
  2. halve the baby eggplants and spray lightly with cooking oil spray.  on a piping hot grill pan, lay eggplant halves cut-side down, and grill for about 4 minutes.  turn clockwise 90 degrees and grill for 1-2 more minutes to achieve “cross-hatched” grill marks.  turn the eggplant over to grill the purple sides in the same manner.  transfer cooked eggplants to a baking sheet to cool slightly.
  3. halve or chunk the tomatoes.
  4. in a large bowl, whisk the dressing ingredients. you do not need to emulsify; the dressing will be mostly absorbed by the quinoa and this won’t be a particularly “wet” salad.
  5. add the tomatoes and grilled eggplant to the dressing and coat evenly.  add the cooled quinoa and stir to incorporate.
  6. finally, add the arugula and basil (we do this last so that they don’t wilt too badly) and lightly toss.

the leftovers have so many possibilities… how about baking into a frittata?  would be a great bento filler side dish on its own, or wrapped in a collard leaf (tone it up “bikini wrap” style!) like i’ve done below.  or how about using this mixture to stuff a portobello and then baking?  YUM!  thanks to chile olive oil for the opportunity to taste!


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7 responses

30 08 2012
bentobirdjenn

I love the vibrant savory touch you bring to the healthiest foods…eggplant and quinoa is an inspired combo, cannot wait to try! wishing you a fab long weekend ahead, megan!

30 08 2012
gamene

thanks so much jenn! i hope you and J have a wonderful weekend too — grab those last california sunshine rays before we head into fall!

30 08 2012
sherimiya

I’m hooked on quinoa too. It’s so versatile and takes on all kinds of flavors so easily; what’s not to love? This one looks very healthy and satisfying!

3 09 2012
Casey

Seriously I’m a huge fan! Blown away by every pic, collage, workout etc.

3 09 2012
gamene

thanks so much casey! your comments on twitter always make me smile😀

7 09 2012
eatzybitzy

I’m in love with the colours of this dish. Wanna try to make this one day.

7 09 2012
gamene

you will LOVE it! super fresh and yummy!

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