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Quinoa, when you’re in the know is easy to say and even easier to make. It’s pronounced KEEN-wah and is a grain that is no harder to cook than rice or pasta. I first decided to give it a crack after a friend challenged me to come up with a recipe for a family birthday celebration. So I took inspiration from the Mediterranean with eggplant, charred red peppers, olives and basil, paired them up with this amazing protein packed grain and the result is absolutely delicious.
2 cups vegetable stock
1 ¼ cups Quinoa
½ cup of pitted olives (sliced in half)
1 roasted red pepper, drained and diced (jarred is fine)
1 eggplant (method below)
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
1 cup cherry or plum tomatoes (cut in half)
Small handful of Italian flat leaf parsley & basil finely chopped for garnish
Half a cup of fresh basil leaves
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 small garlic clove (peeled & chopped)
Pinch of seas salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of white wine vinegar
To make the dressing add all the ingredients to a small blender and blitz until well combined. This will be added to the cooled quinoa
Salad: Place the stock in a saucepan on a medium heat, bring to a simmer, stir in the quinoa, reduce to a low heat, cover leaving a small space for steam to escape, and simmer until the stock is absorbed. About 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, and let it stand for 10 minutes covered. Transfer to large bowl, let it cool slightly, then fluff with fork and mix through the dressing.
While the quinoa is cooking slice the eggplant into 2cm rounds, brush with olive oil, season with salt n pepper and bbq, or cook on a griddle on medium heat for 3-4 minutes each side until tender. Set aside to cool, then slice into thin strips.
To the cooled and dressed quinoa add the olives, roasted pepper, cooked eggplant, tomatoes, half the chopped parsley & basil and mix well. To finish sprinkle over the remaining chopped herbs, the toasted pine nuts and serve. You can finish the salad with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar syrup to take it all the way back to the Med.