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Quinoa Stuffed Za’atar Eggplants with Lemon-Tahini Sauce

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Stuffed with quinoa and chickpeas, roasted eggplant is a perfect, warming, winter meal. I don’t eat meat, but I’ve found that even non-vegetarians love this hearty recipe! Meatless meals are anything but boring, and this dish has a unique ingredient that makes it stand out. Za’atar is a savory Middle Eastern spice blend of sesame seeds, a variety of herbs, and salt. It is growing in popularity and is easy to find at speciality grocery or spice shops. Za’atar is a perfect compliment to roasted eggplant and chickpeas, along with a fresh lemon and tahini sauce. You’ll definitely want to make this dish again!

Further Food Nutritionist Commentary:

This is a great vegetarian/vegan entree. Quinoa and chickpeas provide a punch of protein AND fiber to keep you full and satisfied, and keep your digestive tract humming. This dish also serves up a whopping 32% of your RDI of iron, making it a great blood building, meatless recipe! The eggplant is a nutrient-dense, show-stopping, serving vessel guaranteed to wow dinner party guests.

Tahini provides a healthy, satisfying dose of good fats, and compliments the sesame seeds in the the Za’atar perfectly. The paste, made from sesame seeds, is a great substitute for creamy sauces. It’s subtle, nutty flavor adds dimension to any dish. The splash of lemon kicks up the vitamin C, and the flavor.

By Casey Giltner, Nutritionist
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Quinoa Stuffed Za’atar Eggplants with Lemon-Tahini Sauce

  • Prep Time:20 mins
  • Cook Time:45 mins
  • Servings: 6

Ingredients

3 medium eggplants (cut in half)

3 tablespoon olive oil (divided)

3 tablespoons za’atar (divided)

salt + pepper

½ cup multi-color quinoa (rinsed well to remove saponins)

1 cup water

1 medium onion (diced)

2 cloves garlic (diced)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon paprika

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

1 15-ounce can of chickpeas (drained and rinsed)

1/4 cup tahini paste

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 garlic clove (minced)

1/4 – 1/3 cup water

 

Instructions

For the eggplant:

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F.
  2. Place eggplant cut side up on a sheet pan and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil, season with salt, pepper, and 1 tablespoon za’atar.
  3. Roast until fork-tender, 25-35 minutes.  Remove from oven and set aside.

 

For the filling:

  1. While eggplant is baking, bring quinoa to a boil with 1 cup water and a pinch of salt. Simmer, covered, until water has evaporated, approx. 12 minutes.
  2. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil a large skillet on medium heat. When shimmering, add onion and diced garlic. Saute for 2-3 minutes, until translucent and soft. Reduce heat to low.
  3. Add cumin, paprika, remaining za’atar and cayenne pepper, and cook 1-2 minutes to bloom spices.
  4. Add chickpeas and cooked quinoa, heat through.
  5. Using a spoon, carefully hollow out each eggplant half.
  6. Add this to the quinoa mixture, and stir to combine.
  7. Stuff each eggplant with quinoa mixture, and place on a sheet pan. Return to oven for 10 minutes.

 

For the Tahini-Lemon Sauce:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk tahini paste, lemon juice, minced garlic and 1/4 – 1/3 cups of water until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Drizzle stuffed eggplant with lemon-tahini sauce and serve.
For the eggplant: Preheat oven to 400° F. Place eggplant cut side up on a sheet pan and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil, season with salt, pepper, and 1 tablespoon za’atar. Roast until fork-tender, 25-35 minutes.  Remove from oven and set aside.   For the filling: While eggplant is baking, bring quinoa to a boil with 1 cup water and a pinch of salt. Simmer, covered, until water has evaporated, approx. 12 minutes. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil a large skillet on medium heat. When shimmering, add onion and diced garlic. Saute for 2-3 minutes, until translucent and soft. Reduce heat to low. Add cumin, paprika, remaining za’atar and cayenne pepper, and cook 1-2 minutes to bloom spices. Add chickpeas and cooked quinoa, heat through. Using a spoon, carefully hollow out each eggplant half. Add this to the quinoa mixture, and stir to combine. Stuff each eggplant with quinoa mixture, and place on a sheet pan. Return to oven for 10 minutes.   For the Tahini-Lemon Sauce: In a small bowl, whisk tahini paste, lemon juice, minced garlic and 1/4 – 1/3 cups of water until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle stuffed eggplant with lemon-tahini sauce and serve.

Nutrition Information

Per Serving:  Calories: 312; Total Fat: 15g; Saturated Fat: 2g; Monounsaturated Fat: 7g; Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 624mg; Potassium: 858mg; Carbohydrate: 40g; Fiber: 15g; Sugar: 7g; Protein: 10g

Nutrition Bonus:   Iron: 32%; Vit C: 14%; Calcium: 10%

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