This roasted eggplant, tomato, and caramelized onion sauce epitomizes everything I love in a meal – it’s unfussy, so delicious, seasonal, and it’s good for you! I love serving this recipe as a pasta dish, but I’ve also made it with quinoa a number of times, as I’ve explained how to do below, and it lightens up the meal without sacrificing any flavor. Smoky roasted eggplant, juicy and sweet tomatoes, caramelized onions, red chili flakes, and sautéed garlic are all simmered to perfection, and then topped with fresh herbs, lemon zest, creamy goat cheese, and nutty Parmesan to pull it all together. Adding a generous splash of balsamic or sherry vinegar to deglaze the pan adds a wonderful depth of flavor as well. I make a batch of this on Sundays and eat it throughout the week – it makes about 6 servings and tastes great leftover, but trust me, it’ll go quickly!
1 1/2 Cups dry quinoa (or 1 lb of dry pasta if you prefer)
10 Ounces cherry tomatoes
1 Large eggplant, cubed (yields about 7 1/5 cups cubed)
1 28 Ounce can San Marzano tomatoes
1 Small yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 Clove garlic, diced
1 Handful basil leaves
Red chili flakes
Fresh Lemon juice + zest
Salt + Pepper to taste
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Crumbled goat cheese
Preheat oven to 375*. Drizzle olive oil, salt, and freshly cracked black pepper onto cubed up eggplant and whole cherry tomatoes. Roast eggplant and tomatoes for about 35-40 minutes, or until skins are wrinkled and slightly golden and charred. I place the eggplant on one baking sheet and the tomatoes on another; if you crowd the veggies on the baking sheet they will create little pockets of steam and they won’t get that perfectly caramelized flavor.
While the eggplant and tomatoes are roasting, prepare the quinoa by bringing 1 1/5 cups of dry quinoa and 3 cups of water to a boil and then cover and simmer on low heat for about 15 minutes, or until quinoa has absorbed the water and is light and fluffy. The quinoa will take about 20 minutes total to cook, so meanwhile, heat a large sauté pan with olive oil and onion over medium heat until caramelized. Once the onions are caramelized, add in diced garlic and sauté for a minute or so, and deglaze the pan with a splash of balsamic or sherry vinegar. Add your roasted eggplant and tomatoes, can of San Marzano tomatoes, and a generous pinch of red chili flakes. While the sauce is simmering, crush up the tomatoes and eggplant in the pan – I use a potato masher, you could use a wooden spoon, fork, or whatever you have on hand; this releases all of those smoky and juicy flavors into the sauce and still leaves some texture. Chiffonade the basil and add it to the pan, along with freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 of a lemon. Add salt and pepper to taste. While the sauce is simmering and has thickened a bit after several minutes, add the cooked quinoa to the pan and toss gently to coat it with the sauce. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan, a pinch of lemon zest, more chiffonaded basil (or parsley), crumbled goat cheese, salt, and freshly cracked black pepper. If you want to make this a vegan dish, simply omit the cheese – it is still so flavorful! Bon appetit!