April 01, 2012

Moroccan spiced quinoa, buckwheat and eggplant salad

Yesterday was a perfect Saturday - I went for an early morning swim in the near-by ocean pool, had a light breakfast after that and then headed off to hatha yoga for 2 hours. It was a low-energy but strong class and I felt utterly inspired and energised afterwards, which was exactly what I wanted! I was expecting a friend for a long lunch, so I prepared a couple of big salads that would keep us going while we catch up on all things in life.

This salad has its base on quinoa and buckwheat but there is so much more to it than just that - tahini-flavoured eggplant, carrot for colour, spices like cumin, coriander and cinnamon for warmth, dried apricots for sweetness and beautiful pomegranate arils and toasted walnuts to give it a nice finish. This dish is full of flavour and different textures and it certainly gave my friend and I sustenance to keep talking for 6 hours! I love that - a good catch up with a dear friend over good food. What could be better?

Moroccan spiced quinoa, buckwheat and eggplant salad
(serves 4-6)

180g quinoa (I use Tasmanian grown quinoa)
70g raw buckwheat
3 shallot greens
1 large carrot
small handful of dried apricots
1 medium sized eggplant
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unhulled tahini
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
about 3-4 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon tamari
1 pomegranate
100g raw walnuts (or pistachios)
1/2 lemon, juiced
pinch of salt
freshly ground black pepper

1. Cook quinoa and buckwheat in separate pots. Quinoa should be rinsed well before cooking and cooked until tender and fluffy. I use ratio of 1 part quinoa (in this instance, about 1 cup) to to parts water (about 2 cups). You can rinse the quinoa with cold water after cooking so it won't get all mushy. Cook the buckwheat in plenty of water until just tender. This shouldn't take more than 5 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Place both grains in a large mixing bowl.

2. Finely chop the shallot greens (or green onions) and coarsely grate the carrot. Slice the dried apricots into thin slivers. Add these in to the bowl with the grains.

3. Cut the eggplant into small cubes. Mix tahini, cumin, coriander, cinnamon and tamari with some water in a small bowl. You should have a fairly runny mixture. Heat olive oil in a frying pan and add the eggplant. Cook for a couple of minutes, then add the tahini sauce and cook a further few minutes until the eggplant is soft. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly before folding it in with the grains and the vegetables. 

3. Toast the walnuts on a dry pan for 2-3 minutes. Remove the arils from the pomegranate and add them into the salad as well. Finally season the salad with some lemon juice, salt and pepper. Let the flavours to develop for at least 30 minutes before serving. Sprinkle on the walnuts just before serving so they will stay crunchy.