Fresh eggplant and homegrown tomatoes—this is what summer’s all about. Meatless Monday is easy right now, as the garden offers up all sorts of bounty. Susan Belsinger’s delicious Baked Eggplant with Quinoa takes advantage of corn, tomatoes and basil—all of which should be at (or close to) their peak.
Although this recipe appears long, Susan says, it’s simple to assemble. Slightly nutty, nutritive quinoa is quick to prepare, but wash it thoroughly to remove the bitter saponins before cooking.
Photo by Joe Coca
Baked Eggplant with Quinoa
1 1/2 cups quinoa
1 1/2 pounds eggplant
3 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped red onion
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 cups corn kernels (about 2 ears of corn)
1 generous cup chopped tomato
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped (or 1 tablespoon dried)
1 tablespoon fresh Italian oregano leaves, chopped (or 2 teaspoons dried)
3 ounces feta, crumbled
1. Rinse and drain quinoa three times. Boil water in a nonreactive pan with a tight lid. Add salt and quinoa, stir well, cover and reduce heat to barely simmer for 15 minutes. When steam stops coming from under the lid, open to see if the liquid has been absorbed. Little spirals should be visible on each grain. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, taste, and season with salt and pepper. Stir, cover, and let stand.
2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Halve the eggplant lengthwise. Carefully cut around eggplant’s perimeter, leaving about a 3/8-inch shell without cutting through the bottom. Remove inner flesh by scoring it and cutting it into chunks (I use a grapefruit spoon to remove the flesh). Chop flesh into 1/2-inch pieces.
3. Rub olive oil inside the eggplant shells and season them with salt and pepper. Place in a lightly oiled baking dish and bake for 15 minutes while you prepare the filling. Smaller eggplants may need only 10 or 12 minutes. The eggplant shells should be partially but not completely cooked.
4. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Sauté onion for 1 to 2 minutes, add eggplant, stir, cover and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir again so it doesn’t stick, season with salt and pepper, cover and cook for 3 minutes. Stir and repeat for 3 more minutes. Add corn, tomato, garlic, and dried herbs (add fresh herbs later). Stir and cook 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat.
5. Add 2 cups cooked quinoa to the pan along with the fresh herbs if you’re using them, and toss to mix. Add most of the feta, leaving just a little to garnish the top, and toss. Taste for salt and pepper. Heap shells with filling, then mound nicely and sprinkle with feta.
6. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes; smaller eggplants will probably take about 20 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes and serve. This is also good served at room temperature.