Today I’m sharing a recipe for a Cauliflower and Eggplant Quinoa Salad – check out the recipe below!
Last year, when I started this blog, I wrote up a massive list of things I wanted to cook and write about. Most of them I didn’t end up making. I had all these plans for re-creating meals I’d eaten elsewhere, or re-inventing childhood favourites, but when I look back at that list, I think the things I actually ended up making were much more interesting. It’s funny how we dream up things in our heads that look good on paper, but in reality turn out to be a little disappointing. Necessity it the mother of invention, as they say, and I’ve found that cooking on the fly, using ingredients you picked up in the supermarket in a sudden fit of inspiration, is far more fun and yields much better results. Cooking is, after all, a creative activity, and creativity is often at its best in the spur-of-the-moment.
This year, I’m hoping to focus on learning new culinary techniques (which I will, of course, share with you), and also hope to use more fresh produce. We have recently started growing our own vegetables at home, and I’ve been really enjoying making fresh salads using things we’ve picked from the backyard just minutes earlier. As of this week, we have a simply enormous crop of cherry tomatoes, a plethora of basil, several different types of lettuce, a quite impressive looking zucchini plant (that has so far only yielded one zucchini, but I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt), some runner beans, and some tiny little eggplants and capsicums that clearly still have a long way to go. I’ve never really been a fan of gardening, but I’m finding it really quite exciting to watch these vegetables grow and see the lifecycle of the plants right outside my window.
Quinoa is one of my favourite things to eat. Not everyone likes quinoa, but I love it, and it makes a great base for a salad. In this Cauliflower and Eggplant Quinoa Salad, I have combined it with roasted eggplant and cauliflower (which I tossed in some spices), some dried cherries, and some fresh parsley. I like this dish because it has a good mix of flavours: the nuttiness of the quinoa, the aromatic spices from the roast veg, the tartness of the dried cherries, and the freshness of the parsley.
It is currently summer in Australia, which means that you don’t always feel like eating a hot meal for lunch or dinner. A quinoa salad such as this one is a great solution to that feeling, as you can eat it warm or cold. The leftovers also make a great work lunch the next day.
Roasted Cauliflower and Eggplant Quinoa Salad
1 large eggplant, peeled
half a cauliflower
1/3 cup chopped dried cherries
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
1tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
3 tbsp garlic oil
salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
- Preheat oven to 180ºC. Cut the eggplant in half, and then each half into thirds widthways. Cut each third into slices about 1cm thick. Cut the cauliflower into small florets. Place cauliflower and eggplant into a baking dish and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the garlic oil. Sprinkle over the cumin, coriander, cayenne, salt and pepper, and toss well until the vegetables are evenly coated in the oil and spices. Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until tender.
- Meanwhile, rinse the quinoa. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in the bottom of a pot. Add the quinoa, and toast over a low heat until fragrant and slightly darker in colour. Add 2 cups of water, and bring to a boil over a medium heat. Once the quinoa is boiling, reduce to a simmer and allow to cook until all the water has been absorbed (about 10 minutes).
- Fluff up the quinoa with a fork and transfer to a serving bowl. Add roasted vegetables, chopped dried cherries and parsley, and toss well. Serve warm or cold.
Keeping time: 2 days in the fridge.