An earthy and satisfying bowl of lemony quinoa and kale, grilled eggplant and a generous serving of muhammara - walnut and red pepper dip.
I haven't been posting as many new recipes as I'd like lately, because I've been working on a special food related project that I'll tell you more about in another month or so. Frankly it's taken all my physical and creative energy, and left me running on empty. Thankfully the majority of the project work is now complete and life is starting to return to normal.
I'm mindful of normal. Lately normal hasn't been that fantastic, it's been exhausting and messy. So I'm being intentional about what back to normal looks like, what I want it to be, and how I want to spend the rest of this ever-dwindling year. I'm trying to re-prioritise sleep and exercise, and focus on healthy meals with plenty of vegetables. No more peanut butter on toast!
When I was deciding what to post next, I decided to share this quinoa and kale bowl with you as a meal that represents food I love to eat. Food that's uncomplicated but soul-pleasingly delicious.
I hope you enjoy it xx
Yes please, every day for the rest of my life. Grilled eggplant is one of my favourite things and a reliable ingredient for substantial salad bowls.
I like to keep it simple, grilling it with only olive oil and salt until golden brown and tender. It can then take on the flavours of whatever dressings or other accompaniments I choose to serve it with.
Lemony quinoa and kale
Kale is a divisive vegetable. I see it getting dissed sometimes as a too-cool, Instagram-friendly hipster vegetable that can be unpleasantly tough and fibrous.
I suppose there are some elements of truth to those observations, but kale is also extremely nutrient dense so I grow it at home and try to sneak it into as many meals as I can. It’s very high in vitamins A, C and B6, as well as calcium, manganese and potassium. It’s also a good source of protein, iron, fibre and a range of other nutrients.
One trick to make sure it's not unpleasantly tough is to remove the thick stems, then soften the leaves through cooking or massage. Yes, massage. Leafy raw kale can be rubbed with a bit of olive oil and salt to soften it up, making it a lot more palatable in salads.
My other trick is to slice it very finely, before tossing with other ingredients as I did here. This combination of cooked quinoa, shredded kale, lemon juice and olive oil is simple and a great base for salads or work lunches.
Tie it all together with muhammara
Muhammara is made with roasted red peppers and walnuts, with a little spice and the sharpness of pomegranate molasses.
This earthy, fragrant combo of flavours is one of my favourites. It's a beautiful dip, at home as part of a mezze platter, or as part of a meal like this one. It adds depth and complexity beyond the sum of its parts.
If, like me, you love the sourness of pomegranate molasses, add a bit extra at serving time.
Other eggplant recipes you might like
- Spicy stir fried Szechuan eggplant
- Baked eggplant with lentils, tomatoes and a herby topping
- Black burger with oyster mushrooms and spicy eggplant
- Eggplant and lentil salad with sumac tahini dressing
- Miso and citrus glazed eggplant
For the eggplant:
- 1 large eggplant (about 500g/1lb)
- Olive oil spray
For the lemony quinoa and kale
- ¼ cup uncooked quinoa
- 1 cup shredded kale leaves (about 4 large leaves)
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- Pinch salt
- One batch Muhammara
- Pomegranate molasses to drizzle (optional)
- Pita crisps (optional)
- Preheat oven to 210C (410F) fanbake (convection).
- Slice eggplant into thick slices (around 1 cm or 0.5 in). Arrange the eggplant on a baking tray, spray it generously with olive oil spray and sprinkle with salt. Bake eggplant for 10-15 minutes on each side, spraying with more oil when you flip it if needed, until the eggplant is golden brown and tender.
- While the eggplant is cooking bring a pot of salted water to the boil. Add the uncooked quinoa and boil for 12 minutes. Drain in a sieve, then set aside to steam off its excess moisture and cool down.
- Once the quinoa has cooled (warm is ok), mix with shredded kale, lemon juice, olive oil and a little salt. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
- Serve lemony quinoa and kale with grilled eggplant, a generous dollop of muhammara, pita crisps on the side and drizzle with extra pomegranate molasses, if you like.
- Serve with store bought pita crisps, or try baking soft tacos (regular or gluten free) sprayed with a little olive oil and sprinkled with sesame seeds, until crisp and golden.
- Nutrition information is estimate and does not include pita crisps.