It is spring in Estonia, and nature is slowly waking up again. We had a little setback this morning as it started to snow, but now the sun is back out, and I am always happy to see the sun.
Beautiful weather or not, thanks to the virus, we are sadly still required to stay indoors. Luckily, I have a big terrace, and last week I cleaned up my little rooftop garden, so it is all ready to plant carrots and herbs and zucchini as soon as it gets a bit warmer. I was even lucky enough to find that my strawberries, mint, and parsley have survived the winter, so I could already pick some leaves for this salad too!
Brighter weather means that my dishes also turn a little lighter, and this salad is an excellent transfer from colder weather to summer as it is light but warm and quite substantial.
The recipe is simple and foolproof, but when working with eggplant, it is always essential to work fast brushing it with oil. It has a superpower to absorb absurd amounts of oil. Another important tip is always to make sure that eggplant is fully cooked – it should be creamy inside. It is one of few vegetables that does not win from being al dente at all.
If you are one of those people who think cheese is life, then feta or grilled halloumi would accompany this plate beautifully! But honestly, it tastes just as good on its own!
Warm Quinoa and Eggplant Salad
Cooking time: 25 min
3 ½ oz quinoa (I used black, but whatever you happen to have)
1 large or 2 small eggplants
6-7 sundried tomatoes (the ones I use are dry, and I soak them in warm water for 30 minutes before using, but you can also use the ones in oil)
A handful of pomegranate seeds
2 tbsp olive oil
The juice of ½ lemon
1 tsp tahini
½ tsp honey
Salt and pepper, to taste.
Fresh herbs to serve – mint, cilantro, parsley, dill work well or any kind of mix of them
Toast the quinoa on a dry pan for about 5 minutes on medium heat. Give it a good shake now and then. Pour in 1 ½ cups of boiling water, cover with a lid and leave to simmer on low for 15 minutes. By then, the water should be fully absorbed. If not, then just leave it for a little longer.
Preheat the griddle pan. If you don’t have one, use a regular pan or oven.
Cut the eggplant lengthwise to half and then long strips. The thickest part should be about an inch. Brush the slices lightly with olive oil from each side and sprinkle with salt, then grill from each side for about 3 minutes until nice and charred. Then turn the heat off and leave them on the same pan until you prepare the rest of the ingredients (they will continue cooking lightly, which is okay since you want them creamy).
You should have a little olive oil left from brushing the eggplant – mix this with lemon juice, tahini, honey, and salt-pepper. Have a taste and adjust the seasoning.
Once the quinoa is cooked, mix it with the dressing and chopped tomatoes.
To serve, pile the eggplant slices on top of quinoa, sprinkle pomegranate seeds on top, and add plenty of fresh herbs.
By Kadri Raig
Kadri is a food blogger and yoga teacher from Estonia. She does love to spend time in the kitchen, but most of her recipes are simple and don’t take more than 20 minutes of active cooking time. She thinks that everybody can find time to cook healthy food at home, it is just a question of planning. "I work in an office full time, teach yoga 7-8 hours a week and write a blog. So if I manage to cook most of my meals, then so do you!" Connect with Kadri and enjoy many more of her delicious healthy recipes on her website here: www.kahvliga.ee.
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