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Spice Roasted Eggplant with Yellow Quinoa + Cucumber Tomato Salad

Active Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
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Why we love it:

The warming combination of spices smells amazing and kids love the color. It’s a great “gateway” eggplant dish. That said, check the substitutions list for other ideas if you just aren’t into it. Don’t panic if the ingredient list looks long, it’s heavy on dried spices that you probably have on hand!

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon Paprika
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Cumin
  • 18 teaspoon Cinnamon (or use ground clove if you have that on hand)
  • 1 teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • 1 teaspoon Turmeric
  • 1 Eggplant (large)
  • 1 Lemon (zest and juice)
  • 212 teaspoons Kosher Salt (divided)
  • 14 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (divided)
  • 114 cups Quinoa
  • 2 cups Water
  • 1 cup Plain Yogurt
  • 2 Tablespoons Mayonnaise
  • 1 Tablespoon Cider Vinegar
  • 12 teaspoon White Sugar
  • 2 Roma Tomatos (or cherry tomatoes, halved)
  • 1 Cucumber
  • 14 bunch Cilantro (fresh)
  • 1 Tablespoon Sriracha (or hot sauce of your choice, optional)

Cooking Instructions

  • 1. PREHEAT THE OVEN TO 425
  • 2. SPICE BLEND

    In a small bowl, stir together the ground spices: paprika, cumin, cinnamon, dried oregano, turmeric.

  • 3. EGGPLANT

    Dice eggplant into 1-2” cubes. Toss in a large bowl.

    Zest about ½ of the lemon over the eggplant, then zest the rest into another small bowl. Juice the lemon in the same way – ½ over the eggplant and the other ½ into the small bowl.

    Add all but 1 teaspoon of the spice blend to the eggplant.

    Add about 1 teaspoon of salt to the eggplant and add all but 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil. Turn to coat evenly with the spices. Set aside to use in a few minutes, or cover and marinate for up to 2 days.

  • 4. QUINOA

    In a medium pot with a lid, combine the quinoa, water, and about 1 teaspoon of salt. Add the reserved teaspoon of spice blend. Bring to a boil over high heat, then stir well and reduce to medium-low. Cover partially with the lid. Continue simmering for about 14 minutes, stirring once or twice. Then, when the water is mostly evaporated below the line of the grains, stir and cover. Steam for another 5 minutes. Then turn off the heat and let sit as long as you need.

  • 5. COOK EGGPLANT

    Place the eggplant on a lined baking sheet in one layer. Place in the top third of the oven and bake for about 18 - 28 minutes or until cooked through. Be sure to stir every 5 - 8 minutes to prevent any of the sides from burning. Charring and browning is good, but burnt hard edges are not.

    *Often when people dislike eggplant, it’s because they’ve been served undercooked eggplant. It should be melt in your mouth soft, NOT like a sponge in texture*

  • 6. WHITE SAUCE

    Measure the yogurt and mayo into the bowl with the lemon zest and juice. Stir well to combine. Season with a pinch of salt.

  • 7. SALAD

    In a medium bowl combine the cider vinegar, sugar, and a final pinch of salt. Whisk until the sugar has dissolved. Whisk in the remaining olive oil. Slice the tomatoes into wedges and the cucumber into rounds. Add to the dressing. Coarsely tear or chop the cilantro and add that, too. Toss to coat with the dressing.

  • 8. SERVING

    Serve the eggplant with yellow quinoa and salad on the side. Top generously with white sauce and hot sauce to taste.

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Substitutions

  • VEGAN:
    use your favorite nut based yogurt and vegan mayo for the sauce
  • PESCATARIAN:
    this is a great place to add seared fish - anything from salmon, halibut, catfish, sole and even scallops or shrimp would be a slam dunk
  • EGGPLANT:
    same spices, same cooking method, but try a medley of vegetables - our favorites are portobellos, cauliflower florets, brussels sprouts and maybe even diced butternut squash
  • MAYO:
    you can use only yogurt if you prefer, or use a scoop of sour cream, too
  • CILANTRO:
    basil is nice, or parsley, even arugula would be a nice peppery bite here
  • KIDS CORNER:
    this has been a hit with kids but consider cooking some veggies you know they’ll eat and perhaps without the spices if you are concerned. Same goes for the quinoa. Plain cucumbers might be preferred over dressed in the salad. Kids may also be excited to make wraps in tortillas, naan or pita bread
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