Roast Eggplant With Quinoa, Middle-Eastern Style

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Hi all! So glad we’re all jumping back on this bandwagon after an apparently very busy winter. I personally, however, can’t claim to have been so busy as I spent a large chunk of the time since my last post in Lima. I went with two awesome ladies for a medical rotation at a huge public hospital where patients come from all over the country for treatment. We had the opportunity to learn about how healthcare works in Peru (FYI, everyone is eligible for some sort of government-funded insurance), hear about the early days of HIV and how it has evolved among the population from the head of the infectious diseases department, and to participate in providing free health care to women in one of the most poor and marginalized areas of the city.

But we also had plenty of time to run along the parks overlooking the ocean, stuff our faces with ceviche and cremoladas (Peruvian sorbet), and go to an organic farmers market each weekend to get fresh produce and dairy products and mingle with the local and expat yoga mat-toting, vegetarian population of Lima. We had a lovely apartment in a great neighborhood complete with a giant roof terrace, and cooked decadent vegetarian meals most nights with our spoils from the farmers market. This dinner went over quite well thanks to the delicious fresh feta and surprising find of tahini, likely made with toasted sesame seeds – the flavor was distinctly smoky and added a nice extra oomph to the always delicious paste. It was a great time and I’m looking forward to my next experience providing and hopefully improving medical care abroad, when I will be as a for real doctor. For now though, I’m glad to be back on US soil with a job contract and abundant free time to spend with loved ones!

Ingredients:

  • 2 large or 3 small eggplants, sliced lengthwise ~1/3 in thick
  • 1C dried quinoa – I used red but white would be fine too
  • 1 head of garlic
  • ½ C crumbled feta
  • 3 tbsp tahini – if made with toasted sesame seeds, all the better
  • Harissa (delicious and super flavorful middle-eastern/north African spice paste)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper

Directions:

1. Salt both sides of each eggplant slice generously. (You will later wash off the salt – use lots!) Leave it for 30 minutes to let the water come out, then rinse the slices well. Set your oven to 350. Cut the top of the garlic off and place it with the cut part down on an oiled cookie sheet in the oven for these 30 minutes.

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2. Change the oven to broil. Place the eggplant slices on the sheet with the garlic and paint the up-side with olive oil. Put the sheet under the broiler until both sides are golden brown – cooking time will depend on your oven but is usually somewhere around 10 minutes on the first side and 5 on the second. By the time the eggplant finished, the garlic should be thoroughly roasted with spreadable cloves. Do watch it though to be sure it doesn’t burn.

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3. While the eggplant is in the oven, cook the quinoa. 2-2.5 parts water to 1 part quinoa. Put the quinoa and water in a pot and turn the flame on until the water boils, then turn it down to a simmer until all the water is absorbed and the quinoa is fluffy and soft.

4. Make the tahini sauce: Mix the tahini with ~1-2 tbsp olive oil and mix with a fork until it’s a dense, syrupy liquid. It should be thick, but should also pour easily. Add harissa to taste – its super spicy so this will depend on how much heat you want. FYI – this sauce is delicious! Don’t drink it all though – leave a bit for the dish!

5. Assemble: place the eggplant slices on a platter. Smear a clove of garlic or two on each slice. Spoon the quinoa onto the eggplant. Crumble feta on top, then drizzle on the tahini sauce. Sprinkle freshly ground pepper on top to taste.

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4 thoughts on “Roast Eggplant With Quinoa, Middle-Eastern Style

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