I had high hopes for this meal. And they were surpassed. This is a very simple dish that can be served as a side or as a main. It has enough fiber, protein, vitamins and good fats for a balanced meal and is vegetarian and gluten free.
- Eggplant (I used these three amigos)
- 1-3 tomatoes (I used one large one, seen here)
- 1-3 peppers (I used these two guys which I got from our local CSA; but they don’t have enough flavor for me, so I would recomend a bell pepper if you like something sweet or a spicier version like an Anaheim or cherry pepper)
- 1 cup quinoa
- 1/4 cup olive oil (more or less depending on your preference)
- 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted (toasting a nut is going to bring out the oils of the nut, giving it a more distinct flavor. Put the nuts on a cooking sheet under the broiler for less than five minutes. You’ll know when they’re ready by their smell. If you get a hint of burnt smell, then you better move fast because you may lose the whole batch. Stay near the tray when roasting, keeping a close eye and shifting the tray around occasionally to make sure you get multiple sides nice and toasty.) Here are the raw pine nuts I started with and here are the aromatic toasted pine nuts I used in the dish. See the difference in coloring? I wish you could scratch ‘n sniff these shots, too.
- Handful of fresh basil (or any fresh herb; I used this plateful)
Directions: Chop the vegetables into large chunks (a big bite size) and toss with oil, herbs, and salt and pepper in a pan (you can use a cookie sheet, ceramic or glass pan). Bake at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes until the eggplant is browned and easy to cut but not too mushy. Meanwhile, cook the quinoa according the the package’s instructions. The type I used took 15 minutes. Pour the roasted vegetables and their juices directly over the cooked quinoa in a bowl. The tomatoes should crush just by stirring, excreting juice to keep the quinoa moist.
In a separate bowl, prepare your sauce. I used: 3/4 cup of Greek yogurt, the juice of 1 and 1/2 lemons, 2 tablespoons of tahini, a few chopped shallots, three minced garlic cloves, fresh mint and a sprinkling of salt. Feel free to scale back or eliminate any of these. Just a simple yogurt, lemon and garlic would be great. Or, yogurt and mint. Or try it with fresh dill and lemon.
Mix the sauce with the quinoa and vegetables and garnish with the freshly toasted pine nuts. It’s adaptable and delightful, despite its unimpressive appearance; yet deceivingly healthy with its creamy-looking sauce. Serve at room temperature or chilled or pack leftovers for a picnic. I bet you’ll be surprised by the crowds who like this dish.