Mediterranean Eggplant and Quinoa Salad

This salad was quite tasty and made for a healthy, delicious light dinner. I love finding recipes that make you feel like you're actually eating something healthy. While I do love a good mac 'n cheese, I hate the bloated after effects and the food coma that follows. I really enjoyed the flavors in this dish and it was a little spicy from the cayenne too. I made this salad a few hours in advance so the flavors could marry together and it tasted even better the next day. Since you can make this dish ahead of time, it would be a great dish to serve to company or take to a potluck.

This was my first time cooking quinoa and it cooked up in no time at all. If you've never had quinoa before, it has the same consistency as couscous and is very nutritious, full of protein and gluten free. The original recipe called for barley but I only had quinoa in my pantry, so that's what I used. But I bet this would taste even better with barley or farro since they have a nice crunchy and nutty consistency. Since the quinoa is very soft and the vegetables were roasted, everything was pretty mushy so I added a 1/4 cup of diced jicama and cucumbers for some crunch - just in case you substitute with quinoa like I did.

Mediterranean Eggplant and Quinoa Salad
Makes 2 large servings (main course) or 4 (side dish) servings
Adapted from Epicurious

3/4 lb eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
6 oz zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Olive oil
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup chopped scallion
3/4 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon cayenne, or adjust to taste
1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 garlic clove, minced
1/8 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup roma tomatoes – seeded and cut into1/2 inch cubes
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion, rinsed and drained if desired
1/2 cup bell pepper cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 to 1/2 cup crumbled feta or ricotta salata

Roast eggplant and zucchini: Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 425°F.
Toss eggplant and zucchini with oil, salt, and pepper in a bowl, then spread in shallow (1-inch-deep) baking pans. Roast vegetables in oven, stirring occasionally until vegetables are golden brown and tender, 20 to 25 minutes total. Combine vegetables in 1 bowl and cool.
Cook quinoa: Heat 1 tablespoons oil in a heavy pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then cook scallion, cumin, coriander, and cayenne, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add quinoa and cook, stirring until well coated with oil, 2 minutes more. Add broth bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until all of liquid is absorbed for about 15 minutes.
Make dressing and assemble salad: Whisk together lemon juice, garlic, sugar, and 1/8 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and 1 tablespoons oil in a large bowl. Add quinoa, roasted vegetables, and remaining ingredients along with cheese to bowl with dressing and toss until combined well.

Do ahead: Salad can be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Return to room temperature before serving.