I saw an episode of Giada At Home on Food Network a few years ago in which Giada de Laurentiis made Roasted Eggplant Quinoa Salad. I tried it, I loved it!
It could be a complete meal on its own, but I really like to serve it with a pan-seared chicken breast.
The quino salad is super helthy and vegetarian. The eggplant offers a meaty heartiness that can easily be a meat substitute in a meal. Meatless Monday, anyone?
The flavors of this salad are perfectly balanced. What else would you expect from Giada?? There is warmth from cumin and cinnamon, savory meatyness from the eggplant, sweetness from the apple and dried cranberries, and a nuttiness from the walnuts. It’s everything you cold want in a salad.
To make the salad, I start with preparring the vinaigrette by combining cumin, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, salt, pepper, cinnamon, and a shallot.
Then I preheat my oven to 400º and spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray.
While the oven is warming, I start work on my quinoa by bringing my bringing the vegetable broth to a simmer over medium-high heat in a heavy medium saucepan. Then I mix in the quinoa, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes. Then I turn off the heat and let the quinoa stand, covered, 5 to 10 minutes.
When the quinoa is cool, I fluff it with a fork.
Meanwhile, when the oven is at 400º, toss the eggplant with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast it for 30 minutes. I stir it once, about half-way through the cooking process to make sure it gets all roasted on each side.
When the eggplant is done, put it in a large bowl with the quinoa, apple, dried cranberries, walnuts, and vinaigrette.
To make it a meal, I season a couple chicken breasts with salt, pepper, and paprika, then I pan-sear it until it’s cooked through. I slice it and place it on top of a mound of my quinoa salad.
Roasted Eggplant Quinoa Salad
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 large shallot, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
- One 14.5-ounce can vegetable broth (about 2 cups)
- 1 1/4 cups whole-grain quinoa
- Nonstick vegetable oil spray
- One 1 1/4-pound eggplant, unpeeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large Honey Crisp or Golden Delicious apple, unpeeled, cored, quartered
- 3/4 cup walnut pieces
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
For the vinaigrette:
Whisk the oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, cinnamon, and the seeds until thick and blended in a small bowl. Stir in the shallots. Set the vinaigrette aside.
For the salad:
Place an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400º.
Bring the vegetable broth to a simmer over medium-high heat in a heavy medium saucepan. Mix in the quinoa. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the quinoa stand, covered, 5 to 10 minutes. Cool and fluff with a fork.
Meanwhile, spray a large rimmed baking sheet with vegetable oil spray. Toss the eggplant with 3 tablespoons oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and the pepper on the sheet. Roast until tender and browned, stirring once, about 30 minutes.
Transfer the quinoa to a large bowl; fluff with a fork. Add the vinaigrette, eggplant, apples, walnuts and cranberries. Toss to blend.