I admit it. I have actually failed quite a few times at cooking quinoa. This grain, beloved by some for its so-called superfood benefits, is grown in Tassie and I have followed heaps of recipes that have used a method similar to the absorption method with rice – with disastrous, porridgey results. So I came up with a method similar to making proper, steamed couscous to lighten it up and keep the grains separate. I made this with a mixed quinoa (red, black and white in the one packet), but it’s hard to get the texture just right for all the varieties, so I’ve given the method for the white Tasmanian quinoa.
- 1 lemon, juiced, halves reserved
- 2 eggplants, cut into 1 cm-thick slices
- 1 red capsicum
- 1 green capsicum
- 60 ml (¼ cup) extra virgin olive oil, plus extra, to drizzle
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 cup (200 g) white quinoa, rinsed
- 2 tsp pomegranate molasses (optional) (see Note)
- 2 spring onions, thinly sliced
- ½ bunch coriander leaves
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Resting time 30 minutes
Place the 2 juiced lemon halves in a small saucepan with enough water to cover. Add 1 tsp salt, then simmer for 20 minutes or until soft. Drain, cool, then cut out remaining flesh and dice, and finely dice the skin. Set aside.
Meanwhile, lightly salt the eggplant, place in a colander set over the sink and stand for 30 minutes. Pat dry with paper towel, then drizzle with olive oil and cook on a hot chargrill pan for 12 minutes or until cooked through and charred.
Brush capsicums with oil and place directly over a flame, turning with tongs as each side blackens, until blackened all over. Transfer to a bowl, cool slightly, then peel off charred skins. Carefully cut open capsicums (juices will still be hot) and discard seeds. Slice into rough strips. Set aside.
Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a pan over medium heat, add red onion and cook for 6 minutes or until very soft. Set aside.
Trim a piece of baking paper to fit a bamboo steamer and use a skewer to prick small holes all over the paper. Alternatively you could also use a large, heatproof sieve. Place quinoa and 750 ml water in a medium saucepan with ½ tsp salt and bring to the boil. Place the steamer over a separate, larger saucepan with 3cm water in the base, and bring water to the boil. Once the quinoa comes to the boil, drain and immediately pour into the steamer, spreading it out a little. Cover with a lid and steam for 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and fluff with a fork. Pop it back into the steamer and steam for another 5-10 minutes, or until it reaches the texture you desire. The less time, the nuttier it will be.
Return the quinoa to the bowl, add the remaining 2 tbsp olive oil and fluff with a fork. Add the lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, if using, and season with pepper. Fluff with a fork again. Stir in the lemon flesh and skin, red onions, capsicum, spring onions and coriander.
Layer the eggplant over the base of a serving dish and top with the quinoa. Serve at room temperature. It goes really well with a lemony, leafy goat’s cheese salad.
• Pomegranate molasses is from delis and Middle Eastern food shops.
Photography Alan Benson
As seen in Feast magazine, March 2014, Issue 29. For more recipes and articles, pick up a copy of this month's Feast magazine or check out our great subscriptions offers here.