Roasted Eggplant and Quinoa Salad with Feta makes a delicious vegetarian meal, side dish, or salad. Made with quinoa, tender roasted eggplant, spinach, parsley, and a sweet paprika vinaigrette for just 350 calories.
This healthy Roasted Eggplant and Quinoa Salad with Feta is one of my favorite salads to make. I love the earthy, tender eggplant and the paprika and honey vinaigrette is so good. Plus it is vegetarian, gluten free, and has just 350 calories or 10 Weight Watchers Smartpoints.
Do you like eggplant? I feel like it is one of the most misunderstood ingredients around. Many people think they hate eggplent but usually it is because they have never had it cooked correctly. It's either bitter, really mushy, or cooked with a skin that is barely edible. However, I beg you not to give up on eggplant just yet. Not only is it delicious, it's really good for you. Eggplant is packed with fiber, folate, vitamin B1 and copper. It is a good source of manganese, vitamin B6, niacin, potassium, folate and vitamin K, and some really beneficial phytonutrients.
With that said, let's talk about the proper way to cook eggplant. We will start with the most popular variety, the large purple eggplants you see in the grocery store. There are a few tricks to making sure these eggplants come out delicious. First of all, I would recommend removing all or most of the skin. The skin can be tough and bitter. If you want to leave some skin on, you can leave some thin strips of skin, while peeling away most of it. Secondly, you will want to salt your eggplant and let it sit for at least 20 minutes in a colander. This removes some of the natural bitterness from the eggplant.
If you don't want to go through the extra steps above, then look for baby eggplant or Japanese eggplant. Both have a thinner skin and are naturally less bitter.
Best Ways to Personalize this Vegetarian Roasted Eggplant and Quinoa Salad
- If quinoa isn't your favorite grain, you could swap in brown rice, farro, barley, or couscous. You could also use cauliflower rice for a low carb option. This also makes an amazing pasta salad.
- For more protein consider adding some chickpeas, black beans, or grilled chicken. Shrimp is also yummy in this salad.
- If you want to pack in even more veggies, I recommend adding in some cherry tomatoes, asparagus, or lightly sauteed kale.
- Swap out the cheese to mix up the flavor combination. Goat cheese, gorgonzola, or ricotta salata all work well.
- To boost the Mediterranean flavors in this recipe, I like to add in olives. Sometimes I also add canned artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes, or hearts of palm.
How to roast eggplant?
There are a few different ways to roast eggplant depending on what you are using it for. However, in recipes that call for roasted eggplant steaks or cubes, this method will work. After cutting your eggplant, you want to start by salting the eggplant if you have time. This removes some of the moisture from the eggplant, which helps it to roast instead of steam. To salt eggplant, simply sprinkle the eggplant with salt in a colander. After about thirty minutes, rinse the eggplant and pat it dry.
Next, you will want to add some oil to the eggplant. It is extremely important not to add too much oil. Eggplant is very porous and absorbs liquids quickly, including oil. So if you add too much oil, you end up with a soggy, oil-filled eggplant. We've all had them in restaurants and it is something we want to avoid.
The last key to roasting eggplant is how you arrange it on the baking sheet. To ensure it roast, eggplant needs some space on the baking sheet. It should be in a single layer with some space around each piece. Any overlapping causes steaming instead of roasting.
Finally, roast the eggplant in a 400-degree oven. It will take 30-40 minutes in most cases and you will want to flip it halfway through. You will know it's ready when it is golden brown and the eggplant is tender.
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Roasted Eggplant and Quinoa Salad with Feta
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- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 U eggplant
- Salt and pepper
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 4 cups spinach
- 1/2 cup reduced fat feta cheese
- 4 U green onions, sliced
- 1/4 cup parsley
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp soy sauce (or coconut aminos for GF)
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1.5 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- Peel the eggplant completely or peel the eggplant leaving a few strips of skin showing, like you would with a cucumber. The skin can be bitter and tough, so I like to remove most of it. Chop it into bite size pieces. If you have time, sprinkle the eggplant with kosher salt and place on paper towels or in a colander. Let rest for 15-25 minutes until you see small drops of moisture on the eggplant. This helps remove some bitterness from the eggplant. You could also buy baby eggplant, which are naturally less bitter and skip this step.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Toss the eggplant with the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread out on a baking sheet and roast for 20-25 minutes, shaking the pan once or twice during cooking.
- Meanwhile cook the quinoa. Bring the quinoa and vegetable broth to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and cover. Cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit covered for 5 minutes.
- Make the dressing by whisking together the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, soy sauce, honey, paprika, and cumin.
- Once eggplant and quinoa is cooked, assemble the salad. This can be done warm or cold, both ways are delicious. Toss together the eggplant, quinoa, spinach, parsley, green onions, feta cheese, and dressing. Season with salt and pepper if needed.
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.
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