Roasted Eggplant with Homemade Tahini and Tabbouleh

I’ve been craving lots of fresh herbs since we’ve been limiting our trips to the grocery store and trying to stick to the essentials when we’re there. But yesterday we ventured out to the supermarket for a big shop and I picked up as many fresh herbs and vegetables as I could find / carry. Then I got home and made a plan for what to make with them!

First up was this herb-filled tabbouleh with a lemon olive oil dressing, which was directly inspired by my craving for bright fresh flavors. Canned and frozen veggies are great cost efficient + nutritious options sometimes, but several days of them was leaving me feeling bland. So, I decided to make this quinoa tabbouleh with some roasted eggplant to satisfy my yen for summery freshness.

I also made a homemade tahini sauce using sesame seeds I had on hand, but if you have tahini in your fridge, you can definitely use that instead of processing your own. I highly recommend making the sauce (or paste?) to top the silky eggplant, because it adds a substance to the meal and a deep nutty flavor that offsets the citrus and mint really well. For me, the tahini sauce made the whole dish. Happy cooking!

Roasted Eggplant

1 large eggplant, sliced longways
olive oil

Quinoa Tabbouleh
1 cup tri-color quinoa
1/3 cup chopped mint
1/3 cup chopped parsley
10 grape tomatoes, halved
1 cucumber, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
juice of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

Homemade Tahini Sauce
1/2 cup sesame seeds + 1-2 Tbsp olive oil, plus more if necessary (or 1/4 cup of tahini if you have it on hand)
1 tsp maple syrup
1/4 tsp salt
few drops of lemon juice
chopped mint for garnish, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put sesame seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 6-8 minutes, shaking often and keeping an eye on them so they don’t burn. Let cool for a few minutes. Place seeds in a food processor with one tablespoon of olive oil. Process until it resembles a smooth paste, adding more olive oil as necessary. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the tahini into a small bowl and mix with maple syrup, salt, and lemon juice. Set aside.

Meanwhile, sprinkle salt on both sides of each slice of eggplant and place on a cooling rack or in a colander. After about 10 minutes, water will have seeped out of the eggplant; lightly rinse off the salt and dry each slice with a clean dish towel. Place eggplant slices on a baking sheet and brush each side with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes, turning over halfway through.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add quinoa and reduce heat to a simmer. Let simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the quinoa has absorbed almost all of the water. Remove from heat and allow to come to room temperature. In a bowl with the prepared herbs, tomatoes, cucumbers, and red onion, fold in quinoa and a generous pinch of salt until everything is evenly incorporated. Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, and another generous pinch of salt and pepper, pour over the salad, and then fold together once more.

Serve tabbouleh with eggplant slices spread with tahini sauce and garnished with fresh chopped mint.

Serves 2-3

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