Thursday, September 12, 2013

Quinoa-Stuffed Eggplant with a Roasted Garlic Raita


Ah, September. For most of the country, this means the beginning of fall. But in my little North Hollywood bungalow it means a miniature heat wave, with temperatures creeping past 100 degrees outside. While the warmth has been less than pleasant for myself, Jeremy, and the cat (no central AC = no sleep & tufts of fur everywhere) it's created the ideal growing climate for the eggplants I have nestled in my backyard, and I've now found myself with more eggplants than I know what to do with. So, I decided to use what I had and stuffed my eggplants with more eggplants. And also some quinoa, herbs, and spices. To really make turning on the oven to roast the dish worth it, I made a roasted garlic raita to serve along side the piping hot eggplants. It's the perfect cool and creamy compliment to the warm, spiced vegetables. If you're unfamiliar with raita, it's an Indian spread that's made from yogurt and traditionally incorporates herbs, spices, and fruits or vegetables. It offers a wonderful complement to roasted meats and vegetables when served on the side for spooning over your toasty plate.


I made this as a vegetarian dish, but if you wanted extra protein in addition to the quinoa, you could definitely add some ground meat or chopped tofu to the quinoa-eggplant stuffing (I'd recommend incorporating it when you sauté the onion in the pan). And while this is a simple dish, it is indeed a very flavorful one. The spices and the fresh mint really bring out the flavor of the eggplants and the quinoa adds a wonderful texture to the dish, especially the top portion that gets all crispy when baking in the oven. When served with a scoop of the roasted garlic raita, it makes for the ultimate end-of-summer meal.



Ingredients:

Stuffed Eggplants with Quinoa

3 large eggplants or 5 small eggplants
1 cup dry quinoa
3 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup crushed tomatoes
2 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
1 cup water

Roasted Garlic Raita

1 head garlic
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups plain yogurt
1 cayenne pepper, diced
2 tablespoons finely chopped yellow onion
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped


First, prep the eggplants. Cut them in half lengthwise and use a strong spoon to scoop out the soft flesh, leaving about 1/2 inch of flesh around the skin. Chop up the flesh that you removed, discarding any parts that are mostly seeds. Set aside.

Now, prepare the quinoa. In a medium-sized pot, bring 2 cups of the broth to a boil with the quinoa. Lower heat to a simmer and cover. Cook according to the time on the quinoa package, or until the little threads of the quinoa have started to separate from the kernel and they're soft when tasted. Remove from heat and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large frying pan, saute the onions in the olive oil over medium heat until slightly transparent. Add the chopped eggplant, garlic, crushed tomatoes, and all the dried herbs and spices (not the fresh mint). Simmer over medium-low heat for 10 minutes.

While the mixture is simmering, you can start prepping the roasted garlic. Cut the top 1/4 off the head of garlic and place it in the center of a roughly 8-inch square of tin foil. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over the top of the garlic and then wrap up the tin foil around it so it's in a nice little sealed up tin foil bushel. Set aside.

Once the 10 minutes of simmering have passed, stir in the fresh mint and the quinoa and remove from heat. Place the eggplant halves on a large casserole pan, hollow side facing up. Fill the eggplants with the quinoa mixture and scoop any remaining mixture into the casserole pan around the eggplant halves. Pour 1 cup of broth and 1 cup of water into the casserole pan. Place the pan in the oven, and place the tin foil-wrapped garlic head in the oven next to the casserole pan. Allow them both to cook for 45 -55 minutes, or until the top of the quinoa stuffing is slightly golden and lightly crisp to the touch.

While they're baking, you can start preparing the raita. Mix together the remaining olive oil, yogurt, cayenne pepper, onion, salt, and pepper until blended. Cover and refrigerate.

Once the roasted eggplants and garlic are done cooking, remove each of them from the oven and allow the garlic to cool until safe to touch. Squeeze the garlic head's contents out into the raita and stir to incorporate. Top with the fresh mint and serve immediately alongside the stuffed eggplants.


22 comments:

  1. This eggplant is awesome looking! We just had a weird heat wave too...and then cold...and then hot. So annoying for planning meals!

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    1. Thank you Katrina! And seriously, It makes it so difficult because you can't really predict what you'll be feeling like or when you'll be willing to turn on the oven. Just make up your mind already, sun/clouds!!

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  2. i love all those different varieties of eggplant you got. Roasted garlic raita sounds like a delicious combination with this.

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    1. Thank you Dixya! It really went quite well together. The purple and white ones are Italian varieties and the rest are Asian varieties. All very tasty, but the white eggplant was the sweetest :)

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  3. Eva, hats off to your green thumb!!! Love the colors of your eggplants :) And what a brilliant take on an middle-eastern dish!!! Also LOVE composition of the first photo

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    1. Thank you so much Asha! Yes they're really lovely and vibrant varieties, I am a sucker for any vegetable that's brightly colored and striped :) And I am so glad you enjoyed the composition, it was definitely a new type of set up and I was happy with how it came out, too!

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  4. This is exactly the kind of food we eat! This is a pin I will actually execute ;)

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    1. Awww awesome!! Thanks Sarah! Let me know how you like it when you try it :)

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  5. Eva, this dish looks so gorgeous. I am always amazed at people who can grow their own vegetables. I'm telling ya' it is an art. Love your pictures.

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    1. Haha, thank you Asha! It is a lot of work to keep them growing, but so rewarding when you see them loaded down with fruits and veggies :)

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  6. What a beautiful dish! I'm Indian and sometimes I will crave true Gujarati food while craving something not too Indian... does that even make sense? Well, either way, this is the perfect blend. Thank you!

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  7. I have four eggplant in the garden WAITING for me. Alas, I still have no oven. It's making me crazy! I'll have to pin this for later. Sounds amazing.

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  8. Wow, your aubergines are beautiful. No aubergine I grow would ever reach that size, I need a heat wave! I was wondering just this morning what to do with aubergine and quinoa together, this is perfect! The quinoa looks crunchy on the top, yum!

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  9. Lovely photos! This looks yum. I am about to go harvest our minimal crop of aubergines and have been trying to find a good quinoa recipe, so perfect timing. Thanks!

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  10. Love eggplant and the combo of these ingredients. So much fun to try other eggplants, too! I did make your rose pie. Truly sensational and everyone raved about it. You could market this pie and make a fortune! Thanks for a great one!

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  11. zucchini boats i've seen, but i think this marks my first encounter with eggplant boats! it looks and sounds like some darn good eats.

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  12. We had a mini heat wave last week, and it was so gross. I had a giant burrito delivered from the Mexican place down the road, though, when I really wish I'd made something as awesomely delicious as this! I've always had an issue with the texture of eggplant, and I think quinoa stuffing would be the perfect way to offset that. And with roasted garlic raita? Oh man, sooooo good.

    (Also, I cannot get over how beautiful all of those eggplants are!!! <3)

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  13. These look so good. Can't wait to try it.

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  14. Eva! This is slightly reminiscent of gemistá and tzatziki, but even more wonderful. Talk about the ultimate end-of-summer meal! I imagine this is one of those convince-the-carnivore type meals ;)

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  15. Good morning.
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  16. Una maravilla, fotos, recetas y presentación. un beso!!

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  17. This is special. Normally I like to stuff eggplant with meat and then top with a lot of cheese. But I like this, serve with raita which something new to me. Guess the eggplants will have strong flavors and soft, should be really nice. :)

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