This Middle Eastern quinoa salad boasts a variety of earthy, fresh ingredients; roasted eggplant and sweet potatoes seasoned with sumac and cumin, topped with crunchy pine nuts and tart pomegranates.
My inspiration for naming this dish was mainly due to the addition of the Middle Eastern spices, sumac and cumin. These are two of my favourite spices to cook with; sumac with his lemony, tart bite, and cumin with its earthy spice add a unique depth of flavour to this light, mild-tasting salad.
Roasting the eggplant and sweet potatoes lends for a sweeter, more flavourful dish, as they are cooked until lightly caramelized and tender. The addition of pine nuts adds a creamy, crunchy texture while the pomegranate seeds add crunch and a tart bite that balances out all the sweet undertones in the salad.
This warm fall-inspired salad is hearty enough to be served as a main, especially for vegetarian or vegan members of the family or as an interesting side dish to accompany meat or fish.
(Serves 4-6 as a side dish)
1 large eggplant (about 2 cups), chopped into 2 inch cubes
1 large sweet potato (about 1 1/2 cups), chopped into 2 inch cubes
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. dried cumin
1/2 – 1 tsp. sumac (optional)
2 cups uncooked quinoa
seeds from 1/2 pomegranate
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted or raw
salt and pepper to taste
Chop the eggplant, sweet potatoes, and onion then place on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Toss with olive oil, cumin, sumac and salt and pepper until coated.
Cook at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until the vegetables are fork tender.
In the meantime, cook the quinoa in a medium saucepan then set aside. For quinoa cooking instructions, look HERE.
Once the eggplant and sweet potatoes are cooked, remove them from the pan and add to a large serving bowl with the quinoa. Mix with a large spoon until combined.
Garnish with fresh pomegranates and pine nuts. Serve warm or at room temperature.
This salad keeps well in the fridge in an air tight container for up to 3 days however, if you prepare enough for leftovers only garnish the portion you are serving with the pomegranate seeds as they will soften and loose their flavour and crunch if they sit too long in the fridge.