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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Georgia's roasted eggplant and quinoa salad

This little gem was inspired by the inimitable Deb Perelman's eggplant bruschetta.  Not sure it qualifies as a new recipe, but it was extremely well-received, so here goes!

The only note I'll make here is about fat.  I wouldn't roast eggplant in anything but olive oil, personally, because it's so damn perfect.  Like a Mediterranean sonata and Georgia's eye-roll. That being said, as always, use what you've got. You should, however, adjust the heat accordingly. Olive oil has a smoking point of around 400 degrees fahrenheit (or lower, depending on the purity of the oil).  So if you roast your eggplant at a temperature any higher than 400 degrees fahrenheit, you are scorching the oil and releasing harmful, carcinogenic compounds into your eggplant.

Here is a chart of the smoking points of common fats, to guide you in selecting your roasting temperatures.

We did not have any pomegranate on hand, but it would make a delicious addition, especially with orange or yellow peppers instead of the red ones you see above. Happy eats!



Roasted eggplant salad

1 very large, or 2 medium, eggplants
3 tbsp olive oil
2 cups quinoa, cooked
1 medium red onion, finely diced or sliced whisper thin
Juice of 2 lemons
1 red, orange or yellow pepper
3/4 pound feta
1 generous handful fresh mint
More olive oil, to taste

- Preheat oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit. Slice the eggplant, lengthwise, into 1/2 inch slices.  Sprinkle with salt (coarse, if possible) and lay between sheets of paper towel on a cutting board, topped with a heavy object, to sweat.  After about 15 mins, remove paper towel, tap off salt and cube eggplant finely.

- Coat the cubes of eggplant in olive oil and spread out on baking sheet in a single layer.  Roast, shaking occasionally, for 40 to 45 mins, or until browned.  Try not to move eggplant too frequently or it will break down.  You are going for a crisp exterior with a creamy interior.

- While the eggplant is roasting, dice or slice the onion into a large mixing bowl.  Cover with lemon juice, so they will pickle slightly.  Cook your quinoa, dice your bell pepper and have a glass of rosé.

- Remove eggplant from the oven and cool completely before using.  Same with the quinoa, which must be at room temperature.  See above re: rosé.

- Once cooled, mix quinoa and bell pepper into the onions.  Add eggplant and toss gently.  Crumble the feta into the salad.  Add a few glugs of good olive oil and fold gently.  Adjust the acidity by adding more lemon juice.  

-  Set aside to rest, if you can, to allow the eggplant to absorb the dressing.  Do not chill, salad will be fine at room temperature for several hours.  Add mint and pomegranate (if using) right before serving.  Enjoy!

Quite possibly the best breakfast ever...

Ontario peaches, the last of the Quebec strawberries, full-fat goat yogurt, and this delicious maple-almond topping...for a joyful morning!

Maple-almond crunch

Handful of raw almonds
Knob of salted butter
2 tablespoons of maple syrup

1.  Heat oven to 400 degrees celsius.  Grossly chop almonds.

2.  Place butter in a ramekin and rub it around a bit.

3.  Add almonds and maple syrup.  Bake until bubbly and sticky.

4.  Remove from oven and cool.  If necessary, use a butter knife to break it up.  Serve with yogurt, fruit, ice cream, cheese, or add to soups and salads.