Always looking for new ways to incorporate quinoa into my salads, I decided to make it with roasted eggplant, apples, cranberries and nuts. The inspiration came from Giada de Laurentiis. I made a few changes to the original recipe, including the dressing. I served it with my mustard vinaigrette that I already had ready in the fridge and wanted to use up. This salad was crunchy and yummy.
2 cups vegetable broth (or you can use chicken broth)
1 1/4 cups whole-grain quinoa – I love organic quinoa but you don’t have to use organic.
1 lb. eggplant, unpeeled, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large apple (whatever you have on hand,) unpeeled, cored and cut into small chunks
3/4 cup roasted salted sunflower seeds
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 large bunch of baby kale, arugula or watercress (use whatever lettuce you would like)
Mustard Vinaigrette: aka my favorite dressing of all time
this is always my go to dressing and it keeps for at least 3 – 4 days in the fridge in an airtight jar. Best made in a mini food processor or blender type of machine.
3 tablespoons champagne vinegar
2 small cloves garlic
1 egg yolk ( if you are opposed to this you can substitute with a tablespoon of mayonnaise, I always use the egg yolk)
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup good olive oil
1 heaping tablespoon Dijon mustard
In food processor or whatever you’re using, first put garlic and chop it finely , then add all other ingredients except for olive oil. Give it a few whirls till it’s combined then slowly add olive oil mixing as you go till it is all creamy looking. It is awesome on any salad.
Place an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees.
Meanwhile, bring the broth to a simmer over medium-high heat in a heavy medium saucepan. Mix in the quinoa. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the quinoa just stand, covered 5 – 10 minutes. Cool and fluff with a fork.
Meanwhile, spray a large rimmed baking sheet with vegetable oil spray and toss the eggplant with 3 tablespoon oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper on the sheet. Roast until eggplant is tender and browned, stirring once, total time about 30 minutes.
I cut up apples and gave them a good squeeze of fresh lemon juice so they wouldn’t brown.
Transfer the quinoa to a large bowl, fluff with a fork. Add the eggplant, apples, nuts and cranberries. Toss with some of your favorite dressing to blend. Spoon on top of your favorite lettuce and serve.