Saturday, September 3, 2011

Quinoa Stuffed Eggplant

Although I've cooked with it numerous times now, quinoa remains a bit of a foreign ingredient to me. Having only made it into a salad, I was itching to utilize it in one of the interesting ways I had heard about. Quinoa burgers, quinoa onion rings, quinoa meatloaf, they all sounded so intriguing to me! So when my mom brought a beautiful purple eggplant home from the grocery store and suggested making some sort of stuffed eggplant, the lightbulb in my brain instantly lit up. Quinoa stuffed eggplant was the answer! My mom seemed skeptical. She had heard of stuffing eggplant with rice, but quinoa? Just like me, quinoa is still very much a foreign ingredient for my mom. She began enacting the tell tale signs that she wasn't on board with the idea. Her voice softens, her eyes shift, she pauses after every word or so "well...sure...I've never heard of that...but...ya, try it...". It's easy to get a little nervous at this point, worried that your diners won't like the dish that you're about to prepare, but I felt confident that I could win her over!

Part way through the cooking process I began to become a little skeptical myself. The roasted veggies weren't becoming as soft as I had liked and the dish wasn't looking as aesthetically pleasing as I had hoped. Maybe this wasn't a winner afterall? Nope, that wasn't gonna stop me! I continued cooking, tasting as I went. I stuffed my filling back into the eggplant shells (nervous that the softened skins would collapse when filled and baked again), and topped it with a generous sprinkling of parmesan cheese at my moms suggestion. Sure enough, just as I had initially thought, my quinoa stuffed eggplant turned out absolutely delicious! The flavours were all right on point, the eggplant shells had indeed held up during the second bake, and the presentation looked fantastic! This is exactly the type of dish I'm most proud to call my own. I created it all on instinct by following my gut and tasting every step of the way, and not once did I refer to any other recipe. This baby was all my own! Healthy, delicious, unique, and striking, this dish is definitely getting a "Danielle's Favourites" tag!

Tip: You can easily turn this into a vegan dish by cutting out the parmesan cheese.

1 medium/large eggplant, cut in half lengthwise
1 red bell pepper (may substitute with any colour of bell pepper), chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
about 2-3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup water
1/2 - 3/4 cup tomato sauce
2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp garlic
about 2-3 tbsp parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

1. Using a sharp knife cut through the inside of the eggplant to cut a sort of grid, making sure to not cut through the skin of the eggplant and leaving about a quarter-inch border all around. Using a spoon, scoop out the inside of the eggplant, once again leaving about a quarter-inch border around.

2. In a medium baking dish, toss in the scooped out eggplant. Set aside the hollowed eggplant shells. Add the chopped red pepper and onion to the baking dish and drizzle over half of the olive oil. Add in the oregano and garlic, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Pour the remaining olive oil inside the eggplant shell, rub to coat and place in baking dish cut side down. Bake in a 400ยบ oven for 35-40 minutes, or until vegetables have softened, stirring occasionally.

3. In the meantime, cook the quinoa. In a small pot stir together the quinoa and water, set on the stove, uncovered, at high heat until it comes to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Once cooked, allow quinoa to rest in pot for 5 minutes. Then fluff with a fork.

4. Once chopped vegetables have cooked, toss them into the quinoa with the tomato sauce and basil and season with salt and pepper. Scoop quinoa mixture evenly into the roasted eggplant shells and top with the parmesan cheese. Bake for another 10-15 minutes. Serve hot.

Listening To:
Lana Del Rey- Video Games

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Callie Grayson said...

love quinoa, love eggplant....add them together! heaven!

weezee said...


michele said...

Quinoa not sure what it is but willing to try.