August 16, 2011
I didn't have my first taste of this mysterious deep purple globe until I was in high school. A friends mom happened to make a veggie lasagna that contained bits of eggplant between layers of melted cheese, noodles, and tomato sauce. It may have just been my lucky night; it wasn't often that a veggie option on such a grand scale was around. I surely went in for seconds and loved every bite of the eggplant.
Quinoa & Tomato Stuffed Eggplant
1 cup cooked quinoa or 1/3 cup dry plus 1 cup water
1 1/2 lb eggplant
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried chile flakes
10-12 Kalamata olives, quartered
salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan or mozzarella to serve, optional
Preheat oven to 375˚F.
If you don't have any left over quinoa around, rinse 1/3 cup dried, place in a small saucepan and cover with 1 cup water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered for about 15 minutes or until tender. Set aside.
Cut each eggplant in half (for the little round guys I cut the tops off). Carefully run a knife about a 1/4-inch in from the edge, taking care not to pierce through the skin. Scoop out the flesh with the knife and/or a spoon. Set the halved eggplant in a baking dish and dice what you removed into bite sized pieces.
Heat a pan over medium heat add the olive oil. Toss in the onion and cook until softened and beginning to brown. Add the garlic and diced eggplant, cook until the eggplant begins to soften, about 3-5 minutes. Add in the tomatoes, herbs, and chili flakes and season with a big pinch of salt and pepper. Continue to cook until the tomatoes are nice and soft, another 5 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in the cooked quinoa and kalamata olives, taste and add more salt if needed.
Lightly brush the insides of the eggplant with a little olive oil and a very small pinch of salt. Then carefully fill the eggplant halves, pressing lightly into each one and mounding the filling high. I was able to get all but about 1/2 a cup into mine. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and baking for another 15minutes. If using cheese this would be the time to add it if you want it nice and melty. Serve warm.