Quinoa and vegetable stuffed aubergines

Quinoa and vegetable aubergine

 

It’s been a while, a long while in fact, and I have missed my blog, my food photography and being inspired by fresh ingredients. A walk to the local farmers market today, however, hit the spot! Luckily I was hungry and decided I would buy my lunch from the fresh vegetable stall….

Aubergine. I was first introduced to this fruit (yes, fruit!) by my Sicilian husband. It is a staple food there but not so common in Denmark where I am from. I have grown to absolutely love it and eat it a few times a week now. It is very versatile and can be used in lasagne, baked with tomato sauce and mozzarella to make a “parmigiana”, simply grilled and served with meat or baked and made into dips. Stunning.

Although it’s technically a fruit (a berry, to be exact), the aubergine is used as a vegetable. It’s native to South-East Asia, but is grown all over the world, and there are many different varieties, including the bulbous, glossy, deep purple zepplin-like types common to Mediterranean cuisine; the small, tubular Asian types; the small, plump and ivory examples (hence ‘eggplant’, its name in the United States and Australia); or the scarcely bigger than a pea varieties grown in Thailand (BBC Good Food).

In terms of health, look no further! Aubergines are an excellent source of dietary fibre. They are also a good source of vitamins B1, B6 and potassium. In addition they are high in the minerals copper, magnesium and manganese. Aubergines are furthermore high in fibre and low in fat and therefore recommended for those managing type 2 diabetes or managing weight concerns. There is a great article to read on all the health benefits here (BBC Good Food).

Quinoa is magic too (click on link to read more)….and coconut oil is amazing! I have replaced all my cooking oils with it and even have it in my coffee!! Read why here). Finally kale (click to read) – yum!! This recipe is a winner both in taste and health!

So let’s get to the recipe shall we? I tell you – it is the best lunch I have had in a long time and was relatively quick to make.

Quinoa and vegetable stuffed Aubergine (serves 2)

1 tsp raw coconut oil

1 medium-sized onion – chopped in small pieces

1 large aubergine (read link above for good tips on buying quality ones)

A little olive oil (to drizzle over aubergine)

3 closed cup mushrooms – sliced

2 cloves of garlic – chopped thinly

2 large handfuls of kale

5 cherry tomatoes – sliced in half

A splash of water

Good pinch of sea salt

1/2 a cup of quinoa – boiled

1/3 of a pack of feta cheese

    • Heat oven to 200C.
    • Slice the aubergine in half lengthways. I did not leave the stem intact but you can do. It makes it prettier if you are serving for guests. Using a small knife, cut a border inside each aubergine half. Using a spoon, scoop out the aubergine flesh. You will be left with two shells – brush these with a little olive and place in a baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes to soften them, then remove from oven.
    • Place a pot over medium heat and add the coconut oil.
    • Finely chop the onions and garlic, as well as the aubergine flesh, and add it to the melted coconut oil. Let it cook and soften a little – 4-5 minutes time – then add a splash of water (this will essentially steam the vegetables rather than overly fry them).
    • Tip in the sliced mushroom, tomatoes and raw kale and let it all simmer under a lid.
    • In a separate pot add some water and the quinoa and bring to boil. Let it simmer for 15 minutes before draining using a sieve. Once drained, add the cooked quinoa to the vegetables and season with the sea salt.
    • Break the feta cheese into pieces and mix into the vegetable/quinoa pot. Give it a good stir.
    • Pile the vegetable and quinoa stuffing into the shells and re-heat for 5-10 minutes. If you are a real cheese lover you can sprinkle some more feta or mozzarella on top and let it melt.
    • Serve as it is or with a green salad and a piece of grilled meat or fish.
    • ENJOY!

Stuffed AubergineStuffed Aubergine

 

Pomegranate #4 – Fennel, Orange and Pomegranate Salad

If you are scared of fennel and/or believe you do not like it – try this recipe! It will bring you round to the absolutely gorgeous fresh and crunchy taste that is fennel and you will never look back!

A few words about fennel, if nothing else than to broaden the mind and make you appreciate this little, fat, white bulb!

  • Fennel is widely cultivated for its edible, strongly flavoured leaves and fruits and its aniseed flavour comes from anethol, an aromatic compound also found in star anise. Its taste and aroma is therefore similar to this, though not as strong.
  • Health benefits of fennel include relief from anemia, indigestion, wind, constipation, colic, diarrhea, respiratory disorders and menstrual disorders.
  • Using fennel in food helps protect eyes from inflammation this due to the presence of both ani oxidants and vitamin C which are both very beneficial for the rejuvenation of tissues and prevention of aging – read more about vitamin C here and anti oxidants here).
  • If you suffer from indigestion, or bad breath (or both!), try chewing fennel seeds after your meal – this is apparently common in India.

I have used a few recipes as inspiration (telegraph, bbc, woman’s hour website) but combined my own favourite bits to make this a really stunning starter, a quick lunch or even an afternoon bite of food (if you are going to be having a late dinner maybe?)

The best thing about the recipe is the seasonality of it – it is a real winter salad with oranges being at their best at the moment, and fennel readily available. Furthermore the children love the sweet crunch – and it looks beautiful with the emerald pomegranate seeds scattered around. It is bright and fresh, in taste and colour, and will bring a smile to your face.

Fennel, Orange and Pomegranate Salad

1 fennel bulb – medium – washed, centre removed
2 oranges
Seeds of 1/2 a pomegranate
Lump of feta cheese
 
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp runny honey
 
(fresh chilli is a lovely addition as are a few fresh mint sprigs)
 
  • Wash the fennel bulb and core it – this is easily done by cutting the bulb in half and removing core as you would that of an apple
  • Slice the fennel thinly – julienne style strips – and throw them in a bowl
  • Peel the oranges with a knife removing all of the white pith. Cut in between the membranes to release each small section of orange – do this over the fennel bowl so as to catch the juices as they drip
  • Break the feta into small pieces and throw into the fennel bowl
  • Clean and prepare the pomegranate seeds (read more here) and add to the bowl
  • In a jar combine the olive oil lemon juice, red wine vinegar and honey and shake – pour this dressing over the salad and toss gently
  • Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled – if you want to, add the mint for presentation and flavour and the chilli for an extra kick! It is lovely on its own but also gorgeous with fish or meat.