Knowing what to eat when it is insanely hot one day and pouring rain and much cooler the next, is proving somewhat difficult with this erratic and very unpredictable summer. I have gone from earthy, comforting soups to light heritage tomato salads in the space of a week. I am in a culinary conundrum. I want to embrace the glut of beautiful summer produce by using it in fresh salads, but it is proving bloody difficult when I am already cold and want something to warm me up. So for the best of both worlds I have opted for this warm quinoa salad. Combining a more filling grain with delicious roast red peppers and aubergine, and packing in the flavour with garlic parsley oil. This dish tastes equally good served cold or at room temperature, so it is handy for those days when the weather decides to do a u-turn and land you in the Sahara desert once again!
2 tsp Bouillon stock powder
2 Aubergine – sliced into 2cm discs
2 Red peppers – cored, deseeded and cut into 1inch strips
8 Dried apricots – chopped
25g Parsley – finely chopped
1 clove garlic – finely chopped or crushed
Zest of 1 lemon
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2tbsp of agave syrup
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 200 C.
Toss the sliced red peppers in some olive oil, salt and pepper. Place in a baking tray and roast in the oven for about 20 minutes or until they have become limp and soft with a little colour on the edges.
While they are cooking, bring the quinoa to the boil in just under double its quantity of water with the stock powder. The moment it has come to the boil, reduce the heat to low and place the lid on top. Cook for about 12 minutes until all the water has been absorbed. Turn off the heat, remove the lid and let any remaining water evaporate.
While the quinoa is cooking, using a pastry brush or even with your fingers, brush or rub both sides of the aubergine discs with olive oil. There is no need to salt them and drain them for this recipe. Heat a pan over a medium flame and once hot add the aubergine discs to the pan. Cook on one side for a few minutes or until golden and then flip over and cook the other side until soft in the centre. Remove from the pan and season with sea salt, pepper and a drizzling of agave syrup.
Once all the water has evaporated off the quinoa, add in the chopped dried apricots and season with the grated lemon zest, sea salt (not too much as there is stock in the in water), freshly ground pepper, and 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and stir together.
Combine the chopped parsley, garlic and enough olive oil to make a lose parsley oil. You don’t want it too dry.
Then gently stir the aubergine and red peppers through the quinoa, taking care not to mash them so they are unrecognizable. The beauty of this dish, apart from the taste of course, are the gorgeous vegetables vying for attention, so let them shine.
Drizzle over the garlic and parsley oil and serve immediately with some grilled fish or even just with a light green salad.