On the quest for tasty vegetarian meals, I have discovered a good friend in quinoa. Make it instead of rice, and you have a protein-rich vehicle on which to serve a wide variety of salads, stews, stir-frys and more. Here, I made good use of all the tomatoes from my garden, to come up with a Morrocan-style, eggplant and tomato stew. Rich and spicy, this stew has the perfect balance of sweet, salty, bitter, and sour to achieve umami status. The cinnamon is the star of spices here, but subtle notes of coriander and ginger add complexity and take your taste buds on a journey to the exotic. There is a lot of power in this little vegetarian stew!
Here is Everything you will Need:
For the quinoa pilaf:
- 1 cup quinoa
- 1 3/4 cups water
- Optional add-ins for the quinoa: Carrot, celery, onion, garlic
- handful chopped parsely
- 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp olive oil
For the Eggplant stew:
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1/2 a medium sized eggplant, diced
- 1/2 tsp chili flakes
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 4 medium sized tomatoes (preferably yellow)
- 1/2 cup feta cheese, diced
Start by making the quinoa. I choose to add extra flavor by first sauteing some onion, carrot, celery and garlic. You can skip this step and simply boil the quinoa in 1 3/4 cups water. If you choose to make the pilaf, read on:
Finely dice 1 medium yellow onion, 1 carrot, and 1 rib celery. Saute in a medium saucepan until slightly tender and onion in translucent, about 5 minutes. Add 1 clove minced garlic and saute 1 minute more.
Add the quinoa and a little butter (if you like). Toast the quinoa for a minute. Then add the water, bring to a boil, and lower heat and cover to simmer until tender and all the water has been absorbed.
When the quinoa is tender, take off the heat and let it sit with a clean dish cloth placed under the lid. This absorbs any excess water and makes the quinoa extra fluffy.
Stir in the chopped parsley, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil. Set aside, covered, to keep warm until the stew is ready.
While the quinoa cooks, get started on the stew. Saute 1 large, diced onion and 1 diced red bell pepper. I like to have a few different colors in this dish, so if you are using red tomatoes, use a yellow bell pepper. Saute for 2 minutes.
Next, cut up your eggplant. Cut in half lengthwise, and set aside 1/2 for another use. Make 3-4 lengthwise slices through the eggplant, like this:
Then, cut into lengthwise sticks, and then cubes.
Add the eggplant to the pan with the onion and bell pepper, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and chili flakes, and let saute, stirring often, until eggplant begins to soften, about 6-8 minutes. Add garlic, coriander, ginger, cinnamon, and pepper, saute another minute.
Add the chopped tomatoes and scrape the bottom of the pan to get up all the brown bits. They are full of flavor! Let the whole thing simmer until the tomatoes have broken own and the eggplant is very tender and almost falling apart, about 10 minutes.
Taste your stew. I often find it needs a tbsp of sugar to cut the acidity of the tomatoes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Ladle the stew over the quinoa and sprinkle with feta cheese. Enjoy!