This healthy Roasted Eggplant and Quinoa Salad with Feta is one of my favorite salads to make. I love the earthy, tender eggplant and the paprika and honey vinaigrette is so good. Plus it is vegetarian, gluten free, and has just 350 calories or 10 Weight Watchers Smartpoints.
Do you like eggplant? I feel like it is one of the most misunderstood ingredients around. Many people think they hate eggplent but usually it is because they have never had it cooked correctly. It’s either bitter, really mushy, or cooked with a skin that is barely edible. However, I beg you not to give up on eggplant just yet. Not only is it delicious, it’s really good for you. Eggplant is packed with fiber, folate, vitamin B1 and copper. It is a good source of manganese, vitamin B6, niacin, potassium, folate and vitamin K, and some really beneficial phytonutrients.
With that said, let’s talk about the proper way to cook eggplant. We will start with the most popular variety, the large purple eggplants you see in the grocery store. There are a few tricks to making sure these eggplants come out delicious. First of all, I would recommend removing all or most of the skin. The skin can be tough and bitter. If you want to leave some skin on, you can leave some thin strips of skin, while peeling away most of it. Secondly, you will want to salt your eggplant and let it sit for at least 20 minutes in a colander. This removes some of the natural bitterness from the eggplant.
If you don’t want to go through the extra steps above, then look for baby eggplant or Japanese eggplant. Both have a thinner skin and are naturally less bitter.
Best Ways to Personalize this Vegetarian Roasted Eggplant and Quinoa Salad
- If quinoa isn’t your favorite grain, you could swap in brown rice, farro, barley, or couscous. You could also use cauliflower rice for a low carb option. This also makes an amazing pasta salad.
- For more protein consider adding some chickpeas, black beans, or grilled chicken. Shrimp is also yummy in this salad.
- If you want to pack in even more veggies, I recommend adding in some cherry tomatoes, asparagus, or lightly sauteed kale.
- Swap out the cheese to mix up the flavor combination. Goat cheese, gorgonzola, or ricotta salata all work well.
- To boost the Mediterranean flavors in this recipe, I like to add in olives. Sometimes I also add canned artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes, or hearts of palm.