Za’atar Rubbed Eggplant with Chilled Red Quinoa Salad
This recipe has two great components that could easily be used on their own.
I love this chilled quinoa salad. It’s loaded with lots of vegetables and herbs, but best of all, the quinoa is cooked in orange juice. This is a great opportunity to take your time while cutting the vegetables. It’s a salad where a little care and additional effort pay out big in the final dish. Having all of the vegetables of uniform size, not only makes it visually appealing, but also more harmonious on the palate
Adjust the vegetables to what you have, just aim for between 3 and 4 cups of diced veggies. The cucumber adds a nice freshness, and the peppers add bright vegetal flavours, but others like zucchini, jicama, carrot, radish, kohlrabi, or white turnip would be fun additions or substitutions. Try to aim for a nice combination, but not necessarily everything. Sometimes less is more. Cilantro or mint not your thing? Use flat leaf parsley instead. Or try a combination like parsley and basil.
The eggplant gets a simple baste of the za’atar and olive oil. You can either bake or grill it, whichever is more convenient for you. I personally love it grilled. You can use a premade za’atar blend, or give the one I’ve included a try.
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- ½ cup red quinoa, rinsed
- 1 cup orange juice
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup red onion, chopped ¼”
- 1 ½ cups cucumber, ¼” dice
- ½ cup red bell pepper, ¼” dice
- ½ cup yellow bell pepper, ¼” dice
- ½ cup celery, ¼” dice
- 1 cup chopped cilantro
- 4 tablespoon chopped mint, about 5-6 sprigs
- 2 tablespoon flax seed oil
- 2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 medium Japanese eggplants
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2-3 teaspoons za’atar
- Salt and pepper
- ¼ cup sumac
- ¼ cup toasted sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme
- 2 teaspoons dried marjoram
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Cook the Quinoa, combine the rinsed quinoa, orange juice and ¼ t kosher salt in a small pop.
- Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until all of the juice is absorbed. If it’s not all absorbed at the end of 20 minutes, continue cooking a few minutes longer.
- Remove from the heat and allow it to continue to steam in the pot for another 10 minutes
- Transfer the cooked quinoa to a bowl and allow to cool completely.
- The quinoa can be cooked up to a day ahead and stored in the fridge.
- To finish the salad, combine all of the vegetables, herbs, oils, cooked quinoa and seasonings in a bowl.
- Trim back the leaves of the calyx, but try not to remove all of it (just for visual reasons)
- Split the eggplant in half lengthwise
- Rub a little oil over the skin side and season lightly with salt and pepper
- Turn the eggplant over so the cut side is up.
- Score the flesh
- Combine the remaining oil and the za’atar and brush or rub evenly over the cut side of the eggplant.
- Bake in a preheated 375F/190C/Gas Mark 5, for 20-25 minutes, or until cooked throughout, alternatively, grill over medium heat until tender, 8-10 minutes
- Combine all of the ingredients in a spice grinder. Pulse several times to combine well and lightly chop.