Eggplant, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee grilled and luxuriously blended into a dip or spread. I love thee with passion on a piece of sourdough bread with caramelized onions and a sprinkle of chili flakes. I love thee in sandwiches, you make a feast of any leftovers! I love thee stuffed with brown rice and veggie mixes. Any veggies mixes. I love thee in my wholegrain or bean salads. I love how you love garlic! And most of all, I love how you complete me, nourishing my body with vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and antioxidants that protect my brain and my heart.
Love letter aside, I do love eggplants and we do cook ’em every chance we get. Most often than not, we grill the eggplants whole, allow them to cool, peel them and lovingly process the flesh into creamy, utterly addictive dips like this one or this one. But we also choose to cube it and roast it to soft, juicy perfection, especially during weekdays when grilling seem to be a tad out of the way. Weekday meals need to be fast, easy, obviously nourishing and with no compromise in deliciousness. I often end up having fully or mostly raw dinners or roasted veggies with a side of whole grains or legumes. The oven is my hot buddy.
I love eggplant. And I also love garlic. Eggplant loves me back. Eggplant loves garlic too. It’s a truly complicated love triangle. Garlic loves me back too. A lot. And on top of everything, eggplant loves cumin. And I think there might be something going on with sesame oil. Oh, my head is spinning already. Veggie love is a tangled affair. Let’s just have amaranth. Ama-who? Every time I go grocery shopping I find out about some new ingredient (new to me!) that I simply must try. This is my first date with amaranth. Verdict? Loving it!
Commonly referred to as a grain (similar to quinoa), amaranth is actually a seed. A very nutritious one and also one of the tiniest I’ve seen. Quite similar to chia seeds. Even when cooked it remains small. The cutest whole grain caviar you’ll ever see. It’s gluten free and packs a nutritious punch: good source of calcium, iron, phosphorous and carotenoids.
- 2 medium small eggplants
- 1 TBSP sea salt
- 1 cup amaranth
- 1.5 cups water
- 2 handfuls sprouted legumes
- 1 TBSP good olive oil
- 1 red onion, cut into small wedges
- 1 red paprika or capsicum, cut into bite sized wedges
- 1 tomato, halved
- 3 TBSP olive oil for cooking
- 1 TBSP cumin seeds
- 1 TBSP ground coriander
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 1/2 tsp sweet paprika
- pinch smoked paprika
- sea salt, to taste
- crushed black pepper, to taste
To make herb salsa:
- handful of mixed parsley, mint, coriander
- olive oil, walnut oil – half and half, enough to cover the herbs half way
- 2 TBSP lemon juices
- 1 garlic clove, grated
Serve with tahini and sesame seeds.
- Cube eggplant, skin on, toss with sea salt to cover and set aside.
- Turn on oven at 200C.
- Place amaranth and water in a pot and bring to a boil. Simmer covered for 10 minutes. Continue to simmer without the lid until the water evaporates.
- When the amaranth finished cooking, add 1 TBSP olive oil and throw in a couple of handfuls of sprouted legumes and gently mix them in with a fork.
- Every 5 minutes or so, fluff up the amaranth with a fork, same way you’d fluff up cous cous, until ready to serve. Amaranth has the tendency to become quite sticky and clump together. Which is good for porridge, but not this dish.
- While amaranth is cooking, gently squeeze eggplant and remove any excess water. Place it in a baking tray lined with baking paper. Add onion and paprika wedges and throw in all the spices and oil. Toss the veggies well to coat them in the spices.
- Spread the veggie mix in the tray uniformly, place the tomato halves in the middle of the tray and roast everything for about 20-25 minutes, until the eggplant is soft and tender.
- To make the salsa, add all the ingredients to a food processor and blitz until mixed. Best to leave a chunky texture.
- Enjoy warm with more fresh herbs.