This month I am developing bowls of fun, nutritious and modern-day salads for ELLE magazine's mid-year issue. I find the anatomy of a salad utterly fascinating. Just like any other dish, a great salad has a balance of flavours and textures. A slight upset and you might end up with a mushy salad or a really dry one that becomes tedious to eat after a few mouthfuls. A flavour-matched salad will make you adventurous enough to enjoy ingredients you would never otherwise attempt to eat on their own.
Quinoa goes really well with eggplant. Who would have thought? And garlic ties them both beautifully. It is important to chop the eggplant fine so it cooks quickly and crisps a bit in the pan. I add lentils to make it more dense and hearty. The reds and yellows of the capsicum and corn add a nice colour to the dish. A box of organic sunflower sprouts sourced at the local markets finds its way home amongst all the different ingredients in this bowl. When I have an early light lunch, I snack on a bowl of this salad in the later afternoon to get rid of my pre-caffeine slump. It works to get my mouth exercising with all the crunch and bite each spoonful has to offer.
Sunflower sprouts are really pretty. They are larger than your average sprouts and sturdier as well. They have a slight crunch to them and the flavour is distinctly nutty on the palate. They grow well on a window sill with filtered light from sunflower seeds planted lightly in moist soil. They were my surprise and unusual salad add-in this week.
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Quinoa Lentil And Roasted Eggplant Salad
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cups finely chopped eggplant
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon flaky salt
- 2 cups cooked quinoa
- 400 g can of lentils, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup corn kernels
- 1 cup red capsicum, chopped
- 1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 1 cup sprouts, sunflower or mung bean
- 50 g pine nuts, toasted
- juice of 2 limes
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- handful of coriander leaves
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Heat oil in a sauté pan on high. Add the eggplant and garlic. Sauté for a few minutes, tossing constantly until starting to brown and crisp. Remove from heat, add the salt and mix well. Set aside and cool completely.
- Place all the other ingredients in a large bowl. Add the eggplant crumb mix. Toss to mix well.
- Serve garnished with extra coriander and lime wedges.
- Sunflower sprouts can be replaced by other micro herbs, snow pea sprouts, baby spinach or even mung beans.
- Other salad toppings to experiment with include pomegranate seeds, sunflower kernels, raisins and slivered almonds.
- Salad freezes well. To serve, simply thaw on your kitchen counter for a couple of hours.