Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Harissa Roasted Vegetables with Quinoa

Because I left you with such a heavy, stick-to-your-ribs dish last week, I thought to share something a little bit lighter now, lest you think I am totally over-indulgent (although that wouldn’t be too far from the truth).  While I do admit that I am leagues away from being a virtuous eater, I don’t eat rich, fat/meat/starch/pastry-laden meals every day.  I do, however, maintain that I only ever eat food that I like.  I cannot, even if I wanted to (and why would I want to??), eat food that feels like punishment.  Food, for me, is about pleasure. 

And not all pleasure need be guilty.

Anything that I eat, or post, that looks healthy is eaten only because I think it is delicious.  Never for the sole reason of its health benefits.  I love oats and anything cereal-y or grain-y (although grains are getting quite the bad reputation nowadays…I can never keep up with what is good or bad so I don’t even try). Search for “oatmeal” in this blog and you will see just how much I worship at its altar.  I love vegetables and have a secret love affair with vegetarian food (as illicit as can be for a meat lover like me).  I love tofu…in all its forms, except when it is trying to be meat (Is tofu out now? Or in? Again, I can never follow).  A bowl of perfectly steamed broccoli drizzled with the best olive oil you can find and spattered generously with sea salt is one of my favorite things in the world (yes, right up there with pork crackling and foie gras).

So quinoa…love it, don’t care if it’s in or out or somewhere in between.  It is nutty and chewy pearls of goodness that you can have both savory and sweet.  And it just so happens to be good for you.

Harissa Roasted Vegetables with Quinoa
  • 3 Asian eggplants, sliced diagonally
  • 2 white onions, each cut lengthwise into eighths
  • 1 400-gram can chickpeas, drained
  • 3 roasted and peeled red peppers, sliced (you can used bottled or canned, or why not roast your own?  Here’s how!)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 2 teaspoons harissa
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 garlic, finely minced or pressed through a garlic press
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • To serve: garlic yogurt and chopped green onions

- In a bowl that will fit all the eggplant, onion, and chickpeas, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, harissa, and honey.  Taste it and season with salt and pepper.  You want it slightly saltier than normal as the flavor will soften when you mix this with the vegetables.  Feel free to add more harissa or honey if you want it spicier or sweeter.
- Toss all the eggplant, onions, and chickpeas into the dressing and mix until everything is coated in the honey-harissa mixture.  Tumble this all out into a baking dish that will fit all the vegetables in one layer.
- Roast the vegetables in a pre-heated 400F oven for about 30 minutes, tossing once or twice.  Add the roasted peppers to the pan, turn through, and roast for another 15 minutes or so, until the eggplant and onions are soft and yielding and everything has taken on a burnished tone.
- While the vegetables are roasting, make your quinoa.  Take 1 cup of quinoa and rinse thoroughly.  Place the rinsed quinoa in a pot with 2 cups or water and sprinkle in a bit of salt.  Cook for about 20 minutes, or until quinoa is cooked though (it should still maintain some bite and should not be mushy).  If you find there is still excess water when it is done simple strain the quinoa well, and then transfer to a plate, fluffing with a fork.
- When the vegetables are ready, pile some quinoa in a bowl, top with some of the roasted vegetables (make sure everyone gets a bit of everything!), dollop on some garlic yogurt, sprinkle on some green onions, and enjoy!

Since I work from home lunch is usually a solitary affair, except for now when the little one is off school.  So it is usually at lunch (i.e. when the husband is at work) that I have these little quasi-vegetarian meals.  I eat meat (and how!), make no mistake, but I love these bowls stuffed to the gills with vegetables and grains/seeds.  And this is a favorite combination.

About the garlic yogurt: Garlic yogurt, or some form of yogurt sauce, is something I make a lot.  It’s great because you can make it in small quantities so there’s no waste…also perfect for eating solo.  And, it’s healthy and delicious.  Just take some spoonfuls of Greek yogurt, add finely minced garlic, a drizzle of olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.  To this you can add chopped herbs, or, as I particularly like with this dish, more harissa and some cumin.

Something I do that makes all this easy for me (and for you as well if you are thinking of injecting more vegetables in your life) is having a lot of already cooked and prepped vegetables and grains at the ready.  Cooked quinoa, brown rice, or barley in the fridge, along with steamed broccoli, cauliflower, and peas; roasted red peppers, eggplants, onions, and root vegetables.  I also like having a can of chickpeas in the pantry for meals like this (or any form of beans/legumes either cooked fresh or canned – I’m not averse to convenience).  If you have everything ready to go, the easier it will be to put lovely things like this together (and yes, easier to eat healthy and not fall into the trap of grabbing that leftover slice of pizza!).

So whether you are a paragon of virtue (and if you are I salute you!) or, like me, just someone who enjoys delicious things (sometimes good, sometimes wicked) do give this a try.  I hope you like it!

What are you planning for Easter?  We are staying in the city (which will be devoid of traffic…hooray!) for a suburban staycation and all manners of lazing around.  Maybe an Easter egg hunt for the little ones.  If I’m not back here until then, I wish you all a wonderful Easter holiday!


Eileen said...

These roasted vegetables sound delicious! Definitely an excellent way to use harissa. :)

Midge said...

Roasted vegetables are always such a treat! These would definitely be perfect for Easter dinner alongside the crown roast I was thinking of cooking. :D

ChichaJo said...

Hi Eileen! I love harissa and find a way to sneak it into so many things! :)

Hi Midge! They are! I love the way veggies taste when they are roasted :) Crown roast...wow!!

Thu Hoai said...

I am a food blog who** so I am going to have to go check all these out!