This dish features aromatic toasted quinoa topped with an irresistible blend of seared veggies tossed in homemade sesame vinaigrette. Creamy eggplant complements caramelized onions to a delectable perfection, while baby portabella mushrooms and subtle sweet peppers create an enticing combination of tastes and textures. Though this stir-fry is oozing with flavor, it is mild and balanced, making it a winner with a variety of sensitive palates – even my toddler enjoys it!
If you haven’t tried quinoa, this is the perfect place to start! If you are familiar with quinoa but haven’t had it toasted, you’re missing out! I don’t mind the taste of quinoa, but I do find that toasting it replaces the slightly bitter, earthy taste with a very pleasing fragrant, nutty flavor. I often use quinoa as a substitute for rice, with stir-fry for example, because it has a lower glycemic value, meaning that it doesn’t spike your blood sugar. It is also higher in protein and other trace minerals. This recipe is a wonderful introduction to this dynamic grain-like seed.
- 1-1/2 cup quinoa
- 3 cups water
- 1 medium eggplant
- 1 large sweet or yellow onion
- 2 cups baby portabella mushrooms (can substitute white button)
- 1 sweet red bell pepper (optional, or can substitute other sweet pepper)
- 2-3 tablespoons sunflower or safflower oil (can substitute other high-temp cooking oil, such as coconut)
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder (can add more, to taste)
- ½ teaspoon salt (can add more, to taste)
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon tamari (can substitute other soy sauce)
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar (can substitute white vinegar or rice wine vinegar)
- Rinse and drain quinoa. Transfer to a heavy sauté pan warmed to medium low heat. Frequently stir and spread out the quinoa until the grains start to brown and give off a nutty aroma; it is normal for the quinoa to make a popping sound as the water dries out.
- Place the toasted quinoa and water into a rice cooker and start it on its normal setting. It should take about 25 to 30 minutes, depending on the cooker.
- Chop all the veggies into small squares.
- Heat one tablespoon of high-temp cooking oil in a large sauté or stir-fry pan over medium-high heat.
- Add the onion and bell pepper, stirring occasionally for a few minutes to allow them to soften and start to brown a bit.
- Add the eggplant, mushrooms, salt and garlic powder.
- Continue sautéing over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to allow the veggies to brown and caramelize but keep them from blackening too much. Add additional cooking oil as necessary to keep the veggies from sticking. You will know they are done when the onions are translucent and the eggplant is translucent as well as soft and tender.
- While the veggies are sautéing, whisk together the toasted sesame oil, tamari and vinegar. Pour about half of the mixture over the veggies in the last minute or two they are cooking. Taste the finished product and then add additional dressing if needed for enhanced flavor or additional moisture.
- Serve the seared veggies over the warm, toasted quinoa immediately. Pairs wonderfully with warmed pita bread, classic hummus and a white wine.
**Timesaving techniques include toasting the quinoa and placing it in a timed rice cooker, as well as chopping the veggies the night before and keeping them in a covered dish in the fridge.