Having managed to get a crop (ok........ so it was only 4....... but that's still enough for a couple of meals), I wanted to do them justice by exploiting them fully both in flavour and versatility. As always, I trawled the trusty internet for interesting recipes and came across one for 'Quinoa Stuffed Aubergine' on the London Unattached website, posted by Fiona Maclean. Interestingly, the recipe is put forward as suitable for the 5:2 fast diet.
I love stuffed vegetables, providing the stuffing is interesting, flavoursome and compliments the vegetable being stuffed. This particular recipe caught my eye not only because it required roasting the aubergines first (which always helps to intensify flavour), but also because it used quinoa as a stuffing base, which I thought would add a really interesting chewy texture, alongside the sweet crunch of carrot, earthy mushroom and pungent coriander that were part of the recipe.
Coriander is one of my favourite herbs. The intense sweet tang and distinctive smell tantalise the taste buds and speak of exotic lands (and delicious food). Alongside the coriander, this recipe uses turmeric, cumin and Harissa which add a little extra touch of Asian temptation with a bit of North Africa thrown in for good measure from the smoky 'Harrissan' heat.
For my version, I have kept fairly close to the original ingredients (with a few quantitative tweaks) but have added a handful of pine nuts to compliment and add to the array of textures and flavours already combined. I think the pine nuts are a perfect addition which give a wonderful nutty dimension to make this a perfect meal in itself. Topped with a generous grating of Parmesan cheese, these aubergines are both wholesome and healthy..... and (of course) gluten free.
Given the importance of roasting the aubergine at stage one of this recipe, it is also an ideal entry for this month's Four Season's Food Challenge hosted by Louisa at Eat Your Veg and Anneli over at Delicieux. This month's theme is of course, 'roasting' which seems perfect for those 'chill in the air' Autumn nights and the abundance of wonderful food being harvested and just perfect for throwing in a hot oven......
Roasted Aubergine with Quinoa, Pine Nut & Vegetable Stuffing
Ingredients2 large aubergines
½ vegetable stock cube
1 medium red onion - chopped
2 cloves garlic - finely chopped
1 medium sized carrot - chopped
1 stalk celery - chopped
2 tablespoons tomato puree
a little olive oil to fry
100g mushrooms - chopped
handful of pine nuts
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon Harissa paste
2 handfuls fresh chopped coriander
salt and pepper to season
70g Parmesan cheese - finely grated
- Preheat the oven to 220⁰ C / 425⁰ F / Gas 7.
- Prick the skin of the aubergines and roast in the oven on a baking tray for about 40 minutes or until they feel soft to the squeeze.
- Remove from the oven and cool.
- Whilst the aubergines are roasting, prepare the Quinoa by cooking according to the packet instructions using the vegetable stock. Set aside.
- When the aubergines are cool enough to handle, cut in half and scoop out the flesh, leaving the shells. Reserve the scooped flesh in a bowl and mash slightly to break down or roughly chop.
- Gently fry the chopped onion and garlic with the olive oil in a pan for about 5 minutes until softened.
- Add the turmeric and cumin and cook for a further 2 minutes, stirring well.
- Add the chopped carrot, celery, mushrooms and roasted aubergine flesh, stir and continue to cook over a gentle heat for a further 10 minutes.
- Add the Harissa, cooked Quinoa, pine nuts and tomato puree and stir through the vegetable mix. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Add and fold in the chopped coriander.
- Use the mixture to stuff the aubergine shells and sprinkle the tops with about half the Parmesan cheese.
- Bake in the oven at 190⁰ C / 375⁰ F / Gas 5 for about 20 minutes.
- Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese and enjoy!