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This is one of the best quinoa dishes I have ever made. I’ve never combined eggplant, quinoa, and Asian flavors before, and, it turns out, this combination is so delicious, very flavorful, with all ingredients working really well together. It is basically a stir-fried eggplant, cooked with other veggies, quinoa, with an amazing sauce.
The dish is also incredibly easy to prepare – took me 30 minutes! Got to love it at the end of the working day!
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First, you brown the eggplant, chopped in cubes, on medium-high heat, in olive oil for about 3-5 minutes, where it will get just a touch soft, but not completely soft:
Then, you remove eggplant from the skillet, cook chopped onions and garlic, then add and cook red bell pepper, then add all sauce ingredients (soy sauce, fish sauce, red curry paste, water). Keep in mind, that different brands of red curry paste have different levels of spiciness, in this recipe I am using a very spicy brand of red curry paste, and I adding 2 teaspoons of it, which makes this dish moderately (not overly) spicy (for my taste). Use your taste as your guide, start with only 1 tablespoon of red curry paste to see if it’s too spicy for you. Then add 1 more if you like (or even 1 more extra, if you like things extra spicy).
Then, you add eggplant back to the skillet:
Also, add half of chopped green onions:
And, at the same time, add quinoa. NOTE that the recipe calls for 2 cups of already COOKED QUINOA (not dry quinoa). Continue cooking on low heat for about 5-10 minutes (or longer), until almost all liquid is absorbed and the eggplant is soft. In other words, cook long enough so that eggplant acquires the right texture (soft but not mushy – so, keep watching cooking time), and keep adding water if the sauce gets absorbed too fast and if vegetables and quinoa start sticking to the pan. That way you get soft (not mushy) eggplant and flavorful quinoa:
Before serving, add sesame oil, half of chopped green onions, stir everything well. Serve topped with the remaining half of chopped green onions.
Spicy Asian eggplant and quinoa
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large eggplant, cut into small cubes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely diced
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped in small pieces
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 2 teaspoons Thai red curry chili paste
- 1/2 cup water, then 1/2 cup water more to add later
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 5 green onions, diced
- 2 cups cooked quinoa (not dry quinoa)
- Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until hot, add the eggplant cubes and cook them, covered, occasionally stirring, for about 3-5 minutes, until they begin to soften and get brown around the edges. NOTE: Mid-way through the cooking (after about 2 minutes), add a touch of salt over the eggplant, stir, and continue cooking for about 2 more minutes. Remove the eggplant to a plate and set aside. It should be browned and just a little bit soft (you will cook it more thoroughly later).
- Add another tablespoon of olive oil to the same skillet, add chopped onion and diced garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute over medium-high heat. The finely chopped onions should get very soft and even brown a bit.
- Add chopped red bell pepper, stir with onions and garlic and cook for about another minute over medium-high heat, regularly stirring, covered.
- Add soy sauce, fish sauce, red curry paste, and water to the skillet and stir quickly on medium-high heat until smooth. Immediately reduce heat to low. Return the eggplant to the skillet, along with 2 cups of cooked quinoa (the quinoa should already be cooked!)
- Stir all ingredients well. Add another 1/2 cup water to the skillet. Continue cooking (simmering) on very low heat for about 5-10 minutes (or longer), until almost all liquid is absorbed and the eggplant is soft. In other words, cook long enough so that eggplant acquires the right texture (soft but not mushy - so, keep watching cooking time), and keep adding water if the sauce gets absorbed too fast and if vegetables and quinoa start sticking to the pan. That way you get soft eggplant and flavorful quinoa.
- Before serving, add sesame oil, half of chopped green onions, stir everything well. Serve topped with the remaining half of chopped green onions.
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