Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Cheese Baked Eggplant with Warm Red Quinoa (and a sunset)

Yesterday was an incredibly busy and hard day with one thing after another. After another. After another. And a disaster caught before it did too much damage. (Thankfully, but still a headache!) I hadn't thought at all about dinner and didn't want it to be another breakfast-for-supper night because that would mean I was eating more acidic than I wanted to for another meal in a row more than I wanted to.

I scanned the pantry and refrigerator and came up with this incredibly easy meal. It was so easy and quick I didn't even jot down ingredients, and don't have much in the way of measurements for you. I didn't even spend time setting up a photo. What I can tell you is that it was good. The whole family liked it. And I felt good about eating it. Easily make it vegan and dairy-free by switching out the mozzarella with vegan cheese.

And after I got it all prepped and cooking, I ran outside a few times to catch yet another gorgeous sunset in our sky. I'm so thankful to live in a place with beautiful sunsets! If you enjoyed yesterday's post sharing my daughter's sunset photos as well as my own, I don't think the volume of sunset photos in this post will disappoint you. Enjoy the beauty, and find some in your day today!

Projected time start to finish: About 1 hour

2 small to medium eggplant
Kosher salt
Extra virgin olive oil
Approximately 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella (use vegan for vegan or dairy-free)
Italian seasoning

Scant 2 cups uncooked red quinoa, rinsed thoroughly
Pinch of kosher salt
Extra virgin olive oil
Half a lemon
Garlic granules or powder

Wash eggplant and chop off ends. Slice lengthwise in 1/4-inch pieces. Place on two baking sheets and sprinkle salt over top of slices. Let sit about 15-20 minutes to draw out some of the moisture.

While eggplant is sitting, rinse red quinoa thoroughly a few times in cold water. In a medium to large saucepan, add quinoa and about 2 1/2 cups water. Add a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Cook for about 15-20 minutes or until almost all the water is absorbed. Turn off heat.

While quinoa is cooking, preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Rinse eggplant and firmly pat dry with paper towels or clean lint-free dish towels to remove excess moisture. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Brush each side of eggplant with olive oil and place on parchment paper. Bake (top rack for gas oven) for about 15-20 minutes.

While eggplant is baking, toss shredded cheese together with a few dashes of Italian seasoning. Don't overdo it - you want just enough to give a light taste but not overwhelm.

Remove eggplant from oven and turn each slice to the other side. Sprinkle seasoned cheese over each slice and return to oven for about 10-15 minutes.

While eggplant is cooking, return to quinoa and toss with a tablespoon or two of olive oil and the juice of half a lemon. Add a dash or two of garlic granules or powder to taste (start with a small amount). There should already be enough salt in it, but add more if you need to.

Serve eggplant together with quinoa.


Here are some more of the sunset photos from last night, in order of the sunset progression. When I first saw the sun setting last night, I thought it was a beautiful sky but it didn't really indicate that it was going to be a spectacular sky later. Sometimes you can tell, sometimes you can't. I was in awe more and more each time I looked out the window and stepped outside. It was just the kind of beautiful ending I needed to such a crazy day. Thankful!

It was one of those sunsets that just filled the sky, even from the side there were beautiful aqua and pink colors.


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