This warm salad is as healthy as it is delicious. Quinoa is a “superfood” — full of nutrients, gluten-free, and high in fiber. We boost the nasunin (a potent anti-oxidant and free radical scavenger) by leaving the skin on the eggplant in this recipe. Add walnuts for their cancer fighting properties; an unpeeled apple for Vitamin C and pectin; and dried cherries for copper and Vitamin A, and you have a nearly perfect dish. Even the spices in the vinaigrette are health boosters — cumin (high in iron), cinnamon (blood sugar control and anti-clotting properties), cloves (anti-inflammatory). The addition of this intoxicating vinaigrette makes this salad a heavenly treat.
Final Note: RJ can’t eat cranberries, but dried cherries worked very well in this recipe. Reheat leftovers slightly to bring out all of the fabulous flavors of this fantastic dish.
I’d like to recommend two of my favorite resources: The Spice Bible and Healing Spices. Both are full of wonderful ideas to increase the nutritional power of your creations.
QUINOA, ROASTED EGGPLANT AND APPLE SALAD WITH CUMIN VINAIGRETTE (Serves 6)
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 large shallot, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 1/4 cups whole-grain quinoa, preferably organic
- Nonstick vegetable oil spray
- One 1 1/4-pound eggplant, unpeeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large Honey Crisp or Golden Delicious apple, unpeeled,cored, quartered
- 3/4 cup walnut pieces, toasted
- 1/2 cup dried
- 1 large bunch watercress
- For the vinaigrette: Toast the seeds over medium heat in a heavy medium skillet, stirring occasionally, until the seeds darken in color and become fragrant, 3 1/2 to 4 minutes. Place the seeds on a plate; cool for 1 minute. Grind the seeds finely in a small food mill or grinder. If you don’t have seeds, go ahead and use ground cumin — it still tastes wonderful.
- Whisk the oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, cinnamon, cloves and the cumin until thick and blended in a small bowl. Stir in the shallots. Set the vinaigrette aside.For the salad: Place an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400 F.
- Bring the broth to a simmer over medium-high heat in a heavy medium saucepan. Mix in the quinoa. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the quinoa stand, covered, 5 to 10 minutes. Cool and fluff with a fork.
- Meanwhile, spray a large rimmed baking sheet with vegetable oil spray. Toss the eggplant with 3 tablespoons oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and the pepper on the sheet. Roast until tender and browned, stirring once, about 30 minutes.
- Transfer the quinoa to a large bowl; fluff with a fork. Add the vinaigrette, eggplant, apples, walnuts and dried
cranberriescherries. Toss to blend.
- Cover the bottom of a shallow platter with the watercress or other greens. Spoon the salad on top and serve.