If you take anything away from this recipe, it's that quinoa pairs well with chickpeas. Now, say that in your head five times so that you commit it to memory! Done? Good.
I find myself adding quinoa to traditional chickpea recipes and vice versa to give my food a nutritional boost. The facts: both are full of protein and fiber. Both are economical (relatively speaking). Both are versatile. The sometimes gritty texture of quinoa is tempered by the creaminess of plump chickpeas. They work together. Nature told me so.
This recipe combines a simple mediterranean quinoa chickpea salad with roasted eggplant. There's a bit of roll reversal going on in this dish too: eggplant becomes the main course (the "Meat" in the traditional sense) while the quinoa salad is the side dish. In reality, the protein punch is coming from the side dish. Don't you like challenging the paradigm. Revolutionary! Read more about the health benefits of eggplant here.
Toasted Quinoa Chickpea Salad
1 cup of dry Toasted Quinoa
1 can (15.5oz) of chickpeas
2 cloves of smashed garlic (mince with salt, then smash into paste with back of knife)
1 bunch (1/3 cup) of flat leaf parsley
chopped tomatoes (i used a small red heirloom + a few yellow cherry tomatoes)
1/4 red onion (sliced)
1 tbspn ground cumin
1 tspn kosher salt
black pepper (to taste)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1. Cook the quinoa and then cool to room temperature. (reminder: 2 cups water to 1 cup quinoa, always pre-toast quinoa before cooking, boil for 10 minutes and then leave covered for 20 minutes)
2. Chop parsley finely (or cheat like me and use a food processor)
3. Combine quinoa, chickpeas, and parsley in mixing bowl. Add olive oil, cumin, garlic, tomatoes, onion, salt and pepper. Mix and serve.
The main flavor comes from the smokiness of the cumin and the nuttiness of the quinoa. The creamy chickpeas pull it all together. Super versatile side dish.
Now onto the eggplant....
tahini paste (1/2 cup)
olive oil (2 tbspn)
water (1/3 cup)
2 cloves of smashed garlic
pomegranate syrup (or date syrup, or honey, or whatever sweet goodness you have on hand)
kosher salt and pepper (to taste)
If you are gracious enough to own a grill, you could throw the whole eggplant on the grill and then serve sliced in half with tahini sauce, salt, pepper and lemon. Simple, no fuss dinner.
Or if you are like me and live in a tiny new york apartment and like to complicate matters, you could opt for a two step process: char on stove and then roast. Details for option two are as follows:
1. Char the eggplant over an open flame. This is totally doable and fun in an apartment setting. Char the skins evenly. Handle with tongs. Feel like a pyromaniac champ that you are! Once the skins are charred, transfer eggplants to baking dish lined with foil and bake on 475 for 30 minutes, until tender.
2. Slice tender charred eggplants in half (with skin still on) and serve with tahini sauce (tahini paste, water, olive oil, salt, pepper).
+ Expert tip: drizzle some pomegranate syrup or honey on top as well to add a sweet/sour note.
++ Double expert tip: serve on top of a mound of home-made baba ghanoush (roast a few extra eggplants during the whole mix, separate flesh from skin, blend in food processor with a 2 tbspn of tahini, 1 large garlic cloves, 2 tbspn of olive oil, 1 tbspn of cumin, 1 squeezed lemon and salt and pepper). It'll make the meal feel extra fancy without requiring any additional ingredients!