In Quinoa Salad with Roasted Eggplant and Cherry Tomatoes — simple, one-bowl deliciousness! Together, quinoa with roasted eggplant pair wonderfully with tomatoes — doubly! In this salad, we have both sweet cherry tomatoes and sun-dried tomatoes. Plus, there are lots of fantastic fresh flavors from green onions and parsley. Mix this together with a tangy lemon dressing and you have an incredibly flavorful quinoa salad, which is enhanced even more with toasted pine nuts. Something my vegan and gluten-free friends can get on board with — the eggplant loving ones that is — it’s far from unanimous!
In Praise of Versatile Eggplant
Whether it’s called eggplant or an aubergine, it’s got to be one of the most versatile vegetables out there. What I love about it is its ability to soak up the flavors of the ingredients that it’s paired with. It’s kinda like the tofu of the veggie world. It’s terrific pureed in Middle Eastern style baba ganoush, Italian Melanzane alla parmigiana, sautéed and served in a rich pasta sauce, in a spicy Indian curry, or even roasted in the oven and served in a simple bowl of pure goodness like one. So versatile and delicious, I could eat eggplant every day and all it would do is make me perfectly happy.
So what makes this quinoa salad with roasted aubergine so good?
- The eggplant is oven roasted until tender on the inside and caramelised on the outside
- Cherry tomatoes and sun-dried tomatoes add sweetness and umami flavor that pairs perfectly with eggplant and quinoa
- It’s all tossed in a lemony dressing with a hint of garlic
- It’s hearty, satisfying, and super flavourful
- Leftovers keep well!
How to adapt this Quinoa Aubergine Salad
I personally love this salad exactly as it is and wouldn’t change a thing! But of course there are a few ways you could elevate or even adapt this salad. Here are a few ideas:
- Orzo rice pasta could be used instead of quinoa (in Greece, called „Kritharaki“ and in Italy “Risoni”).
- If you are looking for more protein, you could add some chickpeas, either straight out of the pan or roasted in the oven to make them a little crispy (like I do in this recipe for roasted sweet potatoes and chickpeas).
- You could also add more herbs to this recipe, such as fresh basil. Or maybe even a little fresh mint.
- Try roasting some red onion along with the aubergine.
- Garnish with a little cheese! Before serving, top this quinoa salad with roasted eggplant with a little crumbled feta.
Quinoa Salad with Roasted Eggplant and Cherry Tomatoes
For the salad:
- 1 cup dried quinoa, rinsed (200 g)
- 2 medium eggplants (aubergine), cut into same size cubes
- 2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 250 g mini-Roma or cherry tomatoes, halved
- 60 g oil-packed sun-dried tomato halves (about 6-8 halves)
- 4 green onions, thinly sliced
- 1 small bunch chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (about 1/2 cup)
- 1/3 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted (35 g)
For the dressing:
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 200°C / 400°F.
To roast the eggplant: Place the eggplant cubes onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (or a non-stick baking sheet) and drizzle the oil over them. Toss with your hands so all pieces are lightly coated in oil; add a little more if necessary. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes; until softened and beginning to brown. Halfway through give everything in the pan a good toss.
Meanwhile, rinse the uncooked quinoa in a fine mesh strainer. Place in a medium saucepan and cook according to package instructions (this can vary slightly depending on what type of quinoa you use), for about 15 minutes. Once most of the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa is light and fluffy, remove from heat, fluff with a fork, and let stand for another 5 minutes. Transfer the quinoa to a large serving bowl.
In a small bowl, mix together the dressing ingredients.
Transfer the eggplant to the bowl with the quinoa. Add the cherry tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, green onions, and parsley. Pour over the dressing and toss to combine. If desired, season with a little more salt and pepper and possibly and another squeeze of lemon, to taste. Sprinkle with the toasted pine nuts and enjoy!
For a relaxing atmosphere in the kitchen I recommend my personal Elle Republic: Chilled Out Kitchen Tunes Playlist on Spotify.
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