Herbed Quinoa with Grilled Eggplant

This grilled eggplant is topped with feta, colorful ripe cherry tomatoes, and a zesty dill herbed quinoa. Here’s how to grill eggplant.

Quinoa with eggplant

The other day, Alex and I visited our friend’s urban farm on the south side of Indianapolis. It was quite a sight: an oasis of green a midst junkyards and concrete. We snapped up bright cherry tomatoes and glossy purple eggplants at the farm stand, and chatted with farmer Amy as she diligently harvested onions. If you would have told me years ago that I’d be buying vegetables from urban farms and making them into meals, I would have said “You’re crazy.” But low and behold: this visit resulted in a tasty quinoa with eggplant recipe that’s a perfect summery dinner recipe. Here’s how to make it!

Herbed quinoa with grilled eggplant

Just a little background…from when seasonal food wasn’t on our radar

Ten years ago, I had little interest in food. My dinners consisted of cereal and hot pockets and microwave dinners. YES, this is 100% true. It was a lonely way to eat. I felt isolated. I’d shop at large corporate chain groceries and feel depressed after I left. Of all the reasons to get into food, what hooked me was the community.

I started to go to farmers markets. At the market, I could talk to the actual person who grew the food! It was mind blowing. I became fascinated by the personal connections. Little by little, Alex and I started trying to figure out what to do with these vibrant tomatoes and eggplant and cucumbers, so unlike the limp ones in the supermarket.

That’s a very condensed version of how Alex and I got to where we are today, making things like herbed quinoa with eggplant from the farmers market. It sounds so hippie vegetarian of us, but really, we never set out to become that. We just fell in love with the people behind the food. And over time, we fell in love with the food too.

Cherry tomatoes

Making herbed quinoa with eggplant

Enough about us…let’s talk about this recipe! We hope you’ll fall head over heels in love with this herby quinoa with eggplant. It’s a Mediterranean-style recipe with fresh and zesty flavor. The smoky taste of the eggplant is a fabulous contrast to the dill and feta in the quinoa. Here’s how to grill eggplant, which you can use in other recipes as desired (it would be perfect painted with BBQ sauce too!). This herbed quinoa would be equally as delicious on its own as a side dish for a summer cookout!

How to make herbed quinoa

This herby quinoa highlights all the best flavors that summer has to offer! Here are the basic steps for how to make it:

  • Cook 1 cup quinoa. Cook up a pot of quinoa using our Perfect Quinoa method (or our Instant Pot quinoa if you have a pressure cooker).
  • Stir in 1 tablespoon each olive oil and white wine vinegar. This gives the fluffy quinoa a flavor pop.
  • Mix in 6 tablespoons mixed chopped herbs. Mix it with fresh herbs of your choosing! We used 2 tablespoons each fresh dill, basil, and cilantro. (If you’re not growing herbs at home, it’s pretty simple! You don’t even need garden space: just pots and a sunny ledge. Here’s how to grow herbs.)
  • Add sliced cherry tomatoes and feta cheese crumbles. The icing on the cake is the feta; it makes for a salty, savory undertone. Using multi-colored tomatoes makes for brilliant colors!

Looking for more with quinoa? Here are our best Easy Quinoa Recipes.

Cutting eggplant

Here’s how to grill eggplant

Now to make quinoa with eggplant: we grilled lengthwise slices on a charcoal grill until they were charred and tender. Here’s how to do it!

  1. Preheat a grill to medium high heat.
  2. Cut the eggplant into 3/4-inch slices lengthwise and sprinkle liberally with kosher salt. Place it in a colander for 15 to 30 minutes (this removes bitterness and helps the eggplant to soften).
  3. Brush the eggplant with olive oil on both sides.
  4. Place the eggplant on the grill and cook 4 minutes per side, until tender and grill marks form.

Looking for more with eggplant? Try our Best Eggplant Recipes, from eggplant marinara to grilled eggplant sandwiches.

This quinoa with eggplant recipe is…

Vegetarian and gluten-free.

Print
Eggplant

Herbed Quinoa with Grilled Eggplant


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (5 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

  • Author: a Couple Cooks
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x

Description

This grilled eggplant is topped with feta, colorful ripe cherry tomatoes, and a zesty dill herbed quinoa. Here’s how to grill eggplant.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1.2 pounds eggplant (1 large or 2 small)
  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill (one handful)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil (one handful)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro (one handful)
  • ½ cup feta cheese crumbles
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat a grill to medium-high.
  2. Make the quinoa, according to the instructions for Perfect Quinoa or our Instant Pot quinoa method.
  3. Cut the eggplant into ¾-inch slices, and generously season them with salt. Place the slices in a colander, overlapping as necessary. Let stand 15 to 30 minutes, then pat dry with paper towel (this step helps to remove bitterness from the eggplant prior to grilling).
  4. Liberally brush cut sides of eggplant with olive oil (about 4 tablespoons total). Place on a grill and cook, turning once, until tender, about 4 minutes a side.
  5. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half. Chop the dill, basil, and cilantro. When the quinoa is done, mix it together with the tomatoes, herbs, feta cheese crumbles, white wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and the kosher salt.
  6. To serve, place two to three eggplant slices on a plate and spoon herbed quinoa and tomato mixture on top.

Notes

Inspired by Martha Stewart and Sprouted Kitchen

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Grilled
  • Cuisine: Mediterranean Inspired

Keywords: Grilled eggplant, Herbed quinoa,

Looking for more grilling ideas?

Outside of this grilled eggplant with herbed quinoa, here are a few more grilling ideas:

Updated January 2020

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

11 Comments

  • Reply
    jenna @ just j.faye
    August 19, 2014 at 8:54 am

    YUM! This meal looks absolutely delicious.

  • Reply
    Rivki Locker
    August 19, 2014 at 9:08 pm

    Although I’ve been shopping at the farmers market for YEARS now, I still love talking to the people who grow the food. There is something so satisfying about it. Thanks for sharing… great looking recipe to use up the overwhelming amount of eggplant I’m getting in my weekly CSA baskets now. :)

  • Reply
    Millie | Add A Little
    August 20, 2014 at 2:30 am

    These are some of my favourite summer ingredients! Looks delicious!

  • Reply
    Olivia - Primavera Kitchen
    August 21, 2014 at 8:36 am

    Awesome salad!! Looks so fresh and summery! Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply
    Tamara
    August 22, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    This look amazing! I can’t wait to try this for lunch.

  • Reply
    Riley Wofford
    August 23, 2014 at 10:39 am

    So simple but so yummy! I have some chickpeas I might throw in as well.

  • Reply
    Nicole B.
    August 23, 2014 at 8:51 pm

    I’ve never had eggplant before, but this recipe makes me want to pick some up at a food market and start cooking! I love farmers markets for the same reason as you. It’s so fun connecting with people and picking up fresh food. My kind of day!

  • Reply
    Katie Marlowe
    August 27, 2014 at 11:34 am

    We had this for dinner last night, using farmers market ingredients. In a word — PERFECT!

  • Reply
    Sophie
    September 3, 2014 at 6:07 am

    My sister would absolutely love this, thanks for the suggestion!

    Sophie
    http://what-sophie-said.blogspot.co.uk/
    xxx

  • Reply
    Pam
    October 11, 2014 at 8:22 pm

    This was delicious. Thank you!

  • Reply
    Petra
    March 15, 2015 at 4:41 pm

    We had this for dinner last night and it was perfect. That was the first time I cook quinoa( it’s been in the cupboard for weeks) and it’s not going to be the last. Thanks for sharing your lovely recipes. Your blog is great.

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