This month’s Daring Cooks challenge was to create our own recipe. From each of these three lists we were to pick at least one ingredient:
List 1: Parsnips, Eggplant, Cauliflower
List 2: Balsamic Vinegar, Goat Cheese, Chipotle Peppers
List 3: Maple Syrup, Instant Coffee, Bananas
Honestly, I wasn’t too excited for this challenge. As much as I hate to admit it to myself I’m not a very creative person. And I’m a firm believer that being in a creative environment is crucial to generating new ideas and concepts. Being cooped up in an office for 40 hours a week, and of all things, working in accounting isn’t exactly a setting for the creative juices to flow freely. Alas, I wasn’t going to skip the challenge so I had to come up with something… Eggplant, balsamic vinegar and maple syrup is the route I chose. I had vivid memories of 2 of my roommates in college marinating veggies in a large ziplock bag overnight, cooking them and forming a delicious looking vegetarian sandwich. So that’s what I would do.
I skipped the bread and went with quinoa instead – to create a filling protein loaded vegan dinner. The accompanying veggies were portabella mushrooms caps, red pepper and baby zucchini (which is seriously as delicious as it is adorable). I decided not to marinate the zucchini. Those cute little guys look too tender to withstand a whole night with balsamic (whereas eggplant can certainly hold it’s own).
The overall meal was a success. The vegetables fully absorbed the marinade overnight and the grilling gave them a nicely charred look and taste – mixed with quinoa, sprinkled with scallions and basil, the flavors complemented each other and came together well. Most creative use of the ingredients? Definitely not, but I fulfilled the challenge requirements and provided a delicious meal, one that’s also vegan and gluten free!
- 1 eggplant sliced into ½ inch rounds
- 1 red pepper sliced
- 2-4 portabella mushrooms caps, sliced
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- handful basil leaves, slivered
- 4 scallions, chopped
- 1 cup red quinoa
- 1¼ cup vegetable broth
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- salt, pepper
- 8 baby zucchini, sliced in half
- In a large bowl combine balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, maple syrup, olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic. Whisk until combined.
- To a large ziplock bag added sliced eggplant, red pepper and mushrooms. Pour marinade on top. Seal the bag and shake to make sure all the vegetables are coated. Refrigerate overnight.
- Rinse quinoa several times, drain and add to pot with vegetable broth. Add 2 tablespoons lemon juice, bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and cook according to package directions (usually 15 minutes). Remove from heat and let sit covered for 5 minutes.
- Next day: preheat a grill pan and spray with cooking spray. Over medium-high heat grill the vegetables, flipping over after a few minutes until light charred on each side. Continue until all marinated vegetables are grilled. Add baby zucchini to the grill pan and cook several minuted on each side.
- Coarsely chop grilled vegetables. In a large bowl combine vegetables and quinoa, tossing until combined. Sprinkle with fresh basil and scallions.