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Wednesday
Aug222012

GRILLED EGGPLANT WITH HERBED QUINOA

I'm not even sure where to start with the sentiments on this one, because the past week or two has sort of taken me under. I am not necessarily overwhelmed by way of responsibilities, but by emotion. I feel thrilled that the book is out next week, anxious about the feedback, excited to cheers with family and friends, insecure about my work, incredibly grateful for friends sharing recipes and compliments, timid in self-promotion, scared of speaking in front of people... it just feels like... a lot. That's all I can really say. I'm going to keep it short because honestly I'm not sure how to process all this quite yet. I've always been one to really feel things - to get swept up in emotion and feel like my heart has no callus on it. So maybe you can imagine why this season of cookbook release time feels like "a lot."

I included a number of links on the book page of friends who've so graciously posted recipes from the book. I am truly humbled. So many people who I admire are cooking my foods. I think that's crazy. I will be adding to that list, so you can keep up there if you wish. I updated the dates of events as well and would love to see your faces! Hoping this will be the last book related post out of me, I know I've mentioned it quite a bit :)

There isn't a lot of free time at the moment but I wanted to share a simple dish that seems to fit in with the pace lately. It's not fussy, tastes light while still having enough flavor to remind you that vegetables are just magnificent.

GRILLED EGGPLANT WITH HERBED QUINOA // Serves 6 as a side

I've been a big fan of the eggplant and za'atar combination since this pizza. If you don't have any, some dried thyme or a bit of oregano would be nice as well. The sumac in za'atar gives just a bit of smokiness that compliments the grilled flavor. You could use millet or another whole grain if you have something else on hand. The following gives you more eggplant to quinoa ratio, if you prefer it the other way, simply double the quinoa salad instructions.



  • 3-4 medium eggplants (maybe 2 larger ones, 4 smaller ones)

  • sea salt

  • extra virgin olive oil

  • za'atar seasoning

  • 1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed

  • half of a small red onion, sliced thin

  • generous handful each of fresh basil, dill and cilantro

  • 2 Tbsp. capers, roughly chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

  • 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

  • 2 tsp. honey or agave nectar

  • 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts


Cut the eggplants into 1 1/2'' rounds. Sprinkle with salt and set aside for 30 minutes to release water.

Add the quinoa to a pot with a pinch of salt and 3/4 cup water or stock. Bring it to a gentle boil, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, fluff with a fork, cover again and leave it to steam another 5 minutes.

Heat up your grill or grill pan (I LOVE this. Obsessed). Press the eggplants between a dishcloth or paper towels to absorb the excess moisture. Brush both sides with olive oil and grill for about 5 minutes per sides until you get nice dark marks and the texture seems pretty soft throughout. I like the softer texture that comes with covering them. Remove to a plate, drizzle a bit more olive oil and sprinkle with za'atar to taste.

To finish the quinoa, toss in the onions, all of the herbs, oil, vinegar, honey or agave and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Toss to mix. Taste and adjust as you like.

Put the eggplants on a plate, top with the quinoa and garnish with the toasted pinenuts.

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Reader Comments (59)

Amazing recipe. I need to find some tasty eggplants though to make it; the last ones I bought were far too bitter!

August 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMike

I love grilled eggplant and this recipe gives it a little twist while it's still easy and quick to make. Thank you, you are such a great cook and I so cannot wait to hold your book in my hands!

August 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNina

I love eggplants. This dish looks wholesome and delicious - quite perfect in my eyes. I can't wait to get a copy of your cookbook. I think it's wondeful to see how it seems like your book is being featured all over the Internet and among the food blogging community.

Greetings from Finland,
Sini

August 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSini

congrats again! how very exciting!

August 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSimply Life

What a dish! Looks so refreshing, and healthy to boot!

August 24, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterthecitygourmand

On the menu for next week! You are such a wonderful person and I look forward to every word you post. One day hopefully I can "cheers" you on the new book in person, perhaps over a summer cocktail or warm cup of joe. Soak it all up, take it all in and FEEL everything with your whole being. As overwhelming as that can be for us "feelers" sometimes, it's worth it ;) xo

August 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJessie

This recipe looks delicious. My dad is Lebanese so I grew up eating za'atar sandwiches for lunch. I'm glad you're using it because most people don't even know what it is. I made you're pizza using eggplant and za'atar for my family and they gave it a thumbs up. Keep up the great work. I can't wait to get your cookbook.

August 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie

I've yet to find an eggplant preparation that I love... I think this recipe will change that sentiment! Beautiful and inspiring, as always. Hang in there, everything is happening at once but your efforts will pay off tenfold, I know it!

August 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKathryne

Continually impressed. Savor this exciting time. It is most definitely well deserved. <3 I typically shy away from eggplant but this looks like the recipe that will make me love it.

August 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAshley

Congrats on all of the good things happening in your corner of the world! I am hoping to see you when your book tour comes to SF and am so looking forward to it.

And I am a deep-feeler, too, so I can imagine what you're experiencing, if only to a degree. Persevere! And keep feeling deeply; I think it's worth it. :)

August 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterStacy

I am very critical of any work I do so I can only imagine what you must be feeling in regards to your cookbook. But, with that said, I'm sure, scratch that, I KNOW it will be amazing and I can't wait to hold it in my hands next week!! We've had a lot of eggplant showing up at our farmer's market lately so this is definitely going on the list. Yum and bravo on another awesome recipe!!

August 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCourtney

I haven't been this excited about a cookbook in awhile. I think feeling as deeply as you do will keep you humble and honest. Keep doing what you're doing, it all will work out in the end. Thanks for this beautiful recipe. The simplicity of grilled eggplant is so, so good!

August 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle

Holy jeez. First off, big love for a recipe that celebrates eggplant's simple magnificence. I'm a sucker for za'atar in any context. And big smiles when I saw your amazing recipes on all of my favourite blogs in the last week or so. Just amazing. The anticipation for this book is killing me a bit. I can imagine it's hard to process it all and get a little swept up though. Hope you get to settle in and savour these moments soon. Big hugs, happy days and high fives to yous :)

August 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLaura

I'm just entering a phase where I think I might actually like eggplant. Definitely going to give this recipe a try. And yay for everything else. (You know how I feel!)

August 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNicole

I love eggplants but have never tried it with quinoa... good idea !

August 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTaste it if you can

I loooove the look of this! Can't wait to try!

Seriously?! The beauty of your natural recipes, intentional process + killer photography continues to stun time after time!

August 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCaprice

What a beautiful way to use eggplant. I recieved some in my CSA this week and wasn't quite sure how to use them. This looks perfect. Thank you. Congratulations on the book, it already looks to be a beautiful success!

August 24, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteralison

So simple and pretty and herb-y -- love!

August 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJeanine

I can't imagine the emotional journey you are going through right now. Except, I am incredibly blessed to call you my blogging friend. Wish I was living in the West coast to partake in your book tour. In the meantime, off to drool over this delicious recipe :)

Cheers!

August 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKiran @ KiranTarun.com

What a great combo! I've been going a little crazy with the za'ater lately. Can't think why I haven't been putting it on eggplant!

August 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterThe Rowdy Chowgirl

lots lots of congrats to you two for your great project and hard work. I have been looking at the recipes from the book featured on other blogs and liked them A LOT, like any of yours, anyway. Speaking of which, I made this one last night, just using basil and thyme as herbs, and absolutely loved it! Can't wait to put my hands on your book. xo, Val

August 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterValeria

Honestly, I've only seen praise for your book around the blogosphere and I can't wait to get my hands on it if the recipes in it are at all like the ones I've enjoyed on your blog. Congratulations on all of your good work!

August 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDiane, Abroad

As a recent convert to quinoa - love the stuff! - and someone who's trying to eat healthier this summer, I am totally digging this recipe. Pinned for reference. :)

August 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterApril

I thought I already commented... forgive me if this is the second comment you've received from me on this post! I wanted to tell you to hang in there and ride the emotional storm. Congratulations many times over for the work you and Hugh have done on your cookbook, so exciting!

Your food is lovely, lovely, lovely.
Sincerely,
Kelly Turnbull

August 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKelly Turnbull

beautiful, can't wait to cook from your book. Congratulations!

August 27, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdervla @ The Curator

Its looks so yummy,,,thanks for sharing the recipe...keep on posting and sharing....thanks

August 28, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterraspberry ketones

Hi Sara! I just love the look of your cookbook! Congratulations on that, and good luck with all the challenges you might face. To be honest, I am finding so much inspiration from Foodies like you, I would love to be in your shoes! I am sure you will do very well, will the book be available in South Africa? Thank you for the great recipe!

August 28, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteranina @ aninas-recipes

First of all, whoa. Hugh went next level on this post. The images here always leave my mouth gaping but these are ... well, I'm speechless.
Sara, I am so humbled by your honesty. It's a quality that draws so many to you. Praying against the insecurities in this season and that you will enjoy it. Savor the ride and take great joy in the beauty you created. I can. not. wait. to see you soon!!!

August 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAshley

Just ordered the book and I'm making this recipe right now. Can't wait for both to be here!

August 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommentertastefullyJulie

I received your book today and I adore it! This is the first cookbook I have ever bought myself and I am so pleased :) My husband is the family cook, though I have been having ambitions, and I knew your book would inspire me. It will look lovely displayed on our new open kitchen shelving. Well done! :)

August 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

I have eggplants waiting to be made into this dish right now and only realized it when I read this lovely post. It's going to be supper tomorrow night so thanks for the inspiration. Congrats on all the praise on your book so far - it looks soooo good. Beautiful pictures, lovely recipes - fantastic job.

August 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCharlotte

I am so excited for your book! I am certain it will be just as exquisite & amazing as this blog & I cannot wait to own a copy & cook from it. Thank you for this lovely & simple eggplant recipe. My CSA has been sending it by the boxful & I am growing weary finding new ways to prepare it. I will definitely be giving this try. Congratulations on the book & all you've accomplished! You inspire me.

August 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa

Hi Sara, I've been following your blog for a long time and it has inspired me and brought me much joy! I am certain that your book will be met with much acclaim, I for one can't wait to get my copy! As for all those emotions, they are so understandable. Someone very wise used to tell me it's better to let it all out than bottle it up. So enjoy the multitude of emotions this book release brings with it. And know that many more people will be able to enjoy your wonderful recipes and photography. All the very best, Aube (from Kitchen Vignette)

August 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAubergine

Just received your book from B&N; it is beautiful! Can't wait to be inspired and try some recipes.
Thank-you for sharing your talent.

August 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHeidiP

I was reading a post at http://notwithoutsalt.com & suddenly discovered your blog. I was Happy & excited to discover yet another Food Blog. Nice Post ! Your eggplant recipe looks beautiful, interesting & delicious !

August 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterA Brighton Restaurant

Congratulations about your book - very exciting! Coincidentally, I just cooked some quinoa the other day, too, and posted it to my blog - in fact, I have about 10 pounds of quinoa in a pantry because my husband thought the bulk price was too good to pass. He forgot we have a small pantry...

August 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJulia

I made this for dinner last night and it was fantastic! Thank you so much for sharing it! It's impossible to dislike eggplant after trying this dish...

August 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKate K

This looks delicious, a combination I would love to try. Congrats with the wonderful cookbook!

September 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFrederike

I feel so lucky to have met you today by chance at checkout. You need to shout your blog and book from the rooftops-- everything looks so delicious and beautiful. Off to order your book and be inspired! Congrats to you, elizabeth

September 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth

I love eggplants, thanks for this recipe. Normally I bake it in the oven sliced with tomato sauce and a lot of cheese...I will try this now ; )

September 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEnglisch Übersetzung

I adore the aubergine/eggplant and za'atar combo too and this version with vinegar and quinoa sounds scrummy. I hope I am not too cheeky but I have a recipe for za'atar that I use a lot, and here is the link: http://foodtoglow.wordpress.com/2011/05/07/zaatar-aubergine-and-onion-salad-with-tahini-garlic-dressing/. It is so much cheaper to make this up than buy it, and you can heighten the sumac and use smoked salt if you like. The za'atar recipe is at the bottom of a quite long-winded newbie-style post.

September 5, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterkellie@foodtoglow

Your cookbook just arrived in my post office box in Banff, Canada today! I had pre-ordered it because I have loved following your blog. I am a wedding photographer and the photographs initially drew me in and the recipes kept me there filled with inspiration. I ran home from the post office and promptly decided to take the afternoon off to enjoy looking through your book. I love your writing. You've made it an accessible, inspiring book. I am loving it and can't wait to try the recipes. I am not a foodie, I'm a terribly picky eater and typically don't enjoy cooking. I only own 11 cookbooks, all of which were given to me by well-meaning friends and family trying to encourage me to cook. Your cookbook is the only one I bought for myself and couldn't wait to receive. It is beautifully written and photographed. Thank you for being brave enough to attempt it, I am just one person who is so grateful that you took the time and put so much love into sharing your talent and passion. I loved recognizing wedding photogs in your dinner with friends photos! Congratulations on your first book, which is simply stunning!

September 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKirstie

@Kirstie - wow. What a wonderful comment! I don't feel like I am selling anything, I truly just want to share my approach to cooking and eating. The time that takes is so worth it when I hear feedback like this. Thank you so so much for taking the time to write me a note. Made my day!

September 5, 2012 | Registered CommenterSara

I always have troubles finding a way to cook with Eggplant. This looks great! I'll have to give it a try.
Congrats on the book and hopefully just writing out all your thoughts made it a touch better.
-Michelle {LiveLoudly}

September 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle {LiveLoudly}

Congratulations on the release of your book! If the recipes look half as amazing as this one, it will be a great success!

September 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLeigh

I am so impressed with what the two of you have pulled off, and hope that the coming months are awesome and wonderful and full of new opportunities. And I can only imagine what it feels like, where you're at, trying to process and navigate all of this. The very thought leaves me twitterpated! Wishing you all the bestest.

September 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKimberley

This looks so yummy, can't wait to try it!
Mathilda xxx

September 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMathilda

Can I just say that, while your recipes are fantastically delicious, I almost enjoy your photography more than the food? I don't know how that's possible, because we love food in our house (my husband is a chef). I truly enjoy your website. Thank you so much for sharing with us!

September 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterColleen Duran

I made this for dinner tonight. My husband, who is a happy meat eater commented, "I don't even feel I need to throw a piece of chicken on top." What a delicious dish, just a fabulous combination of flavors. We both really enjoyed it. Thank you for sharing this.

September 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDiana

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