Balsamic Grilled Summer Vegetables with Basil Quinoa Salad

by Sala @ Veggie Belly on July 29, 2010

 

Repeat after me – balsamic makes everything better! Especially grilled summer vegetables and quinoa. I love to grill vegetables tossed in a simple dressing or marinade of balsamic vinegar, olive oil and garlic. I then serve the same dressing as a dipping sauce for the vegetables.

Herb name engraved vintage silver forks are the latest addition to my prop collection. I got them from Beach House Living shop on Etsy.com. Rita will customize the forks for you; her work is beautiful and service is super quick. Rita also flattens out engraved forks, spoons, and knives to be used as garden markers.

To salt or not to salt eggplant before cooking?

Eggplant is full of little air pockets (which is what makes it spongy). When cooking, these air pockets will absorb oil, and make your dish oily. Salting will collapse these air sacs.

Salt eggplants before cooking:
- to reduce oil absorption
- for firmer texture when cooked
- to remove bitterness from an old eggplant

Dont salt eggplant before cooking:
- for dishes that require mashing or pureeing the eggplant
- for silky, soft texture
- if you are quick cooking the eggplant or using high heat (like in this recipe)

How to salt eggplant:

Cut the eggplant as called for in the recipe. Place it in a colander. Sprinkle some salt over the eggplant (as much salt as you would when you cook it). Toss well. Place a heavy saucer or plate over the eggplants in the colander, to weigh them down. Let the eggplant sit like this in the colander for about and hour. All the moisture (brown liquid) will drain out. Rinse well, and pat dry with a cloth. Make sure eggplant pieces have been dried well. Then cook according to the recipe.

You dont have to salt the eggplant for this recipe, because you arent grilling it for long, so you dont risk it getting soft or mushy.

Use whatever vegetables you like. Red bell peppers, mushrooms, any winter squash, asparagus will also taste great grilled and served with quinoa; check out Dishing up Delight’s roasted vegetable quinoa recipe. 101 cookbooks has a quinoa recipe with roasted cherry tomato and tofu.  

How cute are these little pearlini mozzarella balls? If you cant find them use bocconcini (slightly larger mozzarella balls). Vegans can use pan fried tofu or some toasted pine nuts or walnuts instead.

Balsamic Grilled Summer Vegetables (Eggplant, Zucchini, Tomato, Red Onion), Pearlini Mozzarella and Basil Quinoa Salad Recipe

serves about 3. (you will have as much grilled vegetables as quinoa).

for balsamic dressing
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic minced
salt and pepper

for grilled summer vegetables
1 small italian eggplant (about 2 cups when cut into big cubes)
1 small zucchini (about 2 cups when cut into big cubes)
1/2 small red onion (1/4 of a large red onion)
3/4 cup cherry tomatoes
4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves stripped

for basil quinoa salad
2 cups water
1 cup quinoa
1/4 cup basil leaves loosely packed, chopped

other ingredients
1/2 cup pearlini mozzarella balls, or bocconcini mozzarella balls, tossed in a little salt and pepper
(substitute with pan fried tofu or toasted pine nuts or walnuts for a vegan dish)

Whisk together all the balsamic dressing ingredients and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, boil water for the quinoa salad. Add quinoa and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer covered, till all the water has been completely absorbed, about 20 minutes.

While quinoa is cooking, cut the eggplant and zucchini into 1 1/2 inch cubes. Cut the red onion into rings. Place cubed eggplant, zucchini, red onion, tomatoes and thyme leaves in a bowl. Pour half the balsamic dressing over the vegetables and toss well.

Brush grill grates with olive oil or non-stick spray (I used a stove top cast iron grill). Heat grill to medium-high. Grill the vegetables about 3 minutes on one side or till grill marks appear, about 3 minutes. Flip them over and grill other side till vegetables are tender but still a bit firm. Tomatoes will cook quicker, remove them from the grill as soon as they start to blister.

Reserve the balsamic dressing that remains in the bowl, to serve with the meal.

If you dont have a grill, broil the vegetables in the top rack of an oven, till one side is golden. Flip and broil other side.

When the quinoa finishes cooking, toss it with the second half of the balsamic dressing. Stir in chopped basil, salt and pepper. 

Spread quinoa on a platter or bowl. Arrange the grilled summer vegetables and mozzarella around the quinoa. Serve warm with the reserved balsamic dressing on the side.

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Comments

comments

{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Brian July 29, 2010 at 4:46 pm

AHAHAHA! That fork is adorable! As always, your pictures just brighten up my day. A wonderful summer recipe!

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2 RV July 29, 2010 at 4:47 pm

love those cute forks with engraved herb names. This is a great summer dish with perfectly grilled veggies.

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3 VARSHA July 29, 2010 at 5:13 pm

I am going to try this today..long since I had some clean grilled veggies..tho I say it all the time,fantabulous pics Sala..!

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4 Rosa July 29, 2010 at 5:29 pm

I also love to add balsamic vinegar to summer veggies. That couscous is lovely!

Cheers,

Rosa

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5 Prerna July 29, 2010 at 5:42 pm

Balsamic vinegar, olive oil and garlic nothing can go wrong after that!
Beautiful pictures as usual! & I want that fork :-)

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6 pavithra July 29, 2010 at 6:29 pm

The spoons are adorable.. I simply loved it and the mozzarella balls are so so cute….. Veggies with mozzarella and grilled veggies mmm yummy!!!

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7 pavithra July 29, 2010 at 6:30 pm

Sorry instead of quinoa i miss typed as veggies… :)

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8 beachhouseliving July 29, 2010 at 6:46 pm

Oh my goodness I should have eaten dinner first before reading you post! I am a fan of grilled veggies and agree balsamic vinegar is perfect.
Thank you for including the herb forks in your post. Your photos of them make them look truly beautiful.

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9 archana July 29, 2010 at 6:57 pm

What a riot of colors !!!! Love your photos.

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10 Taylor July 29, 2010 at 8:34 pm

Thanks for the eggplant tips! I agree…balsamic makes everything tastier!

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11 Katrin July 30, 2010 at 5:57 am

Just dicovered your blog! I like it very much! Beautiful photos and inspiring recipes! I so want to make that quinoa salad soon!

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12 Priya July 30, 2010 at 5:57 am

Feel like grabbing some, droolworthy salad and grilled veggies..

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13 arthi July 30, 2010 at 5:58 am

Your photos are sort of becoming an addiction..cant take eyes off…And those forks are so cute…where did ya find them?

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Sala @ Veggie Belly Reply:

the details are right below the fork picture!

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14 Marisa July 30, 2010 at 10:29 am

Love your photos! And the herb name forks are pretty cute.

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15 Cynthia July 31, 2010 at 5:21 pm

Love the new prop forks!

I have to say, balsamic grilled veggies – oh yeah baby.

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16 Xiaolu (6 Bittersweets) August 1, 2010 at 7:14 am

You’re awesome, Sala. Love the detailed instructions about when to salt eggplants. I never knew the reasoning behind it! Plus I adore balsamic vinegar and grilled veggies so this combo is a sure hit. Thanks for sharing prop sources, too. You know how far I’m willing to go to hunt a good prop down ;p. By the way, I’m done with my old job and not starting school for a month, so let me know if you wanna finally meet maybe at the farmers market or to cook something?

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Sala @ Veggie Belly Reply:

that sounds like fun! willl email you :)

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17 Priya August 1, 2010 at 12:49 pm

Just made this as a special birthday lunch for my Vegan husband. Huge hit! :) Replaced the mozzarella with toasted pine nuts. Thanks for sharing this awesome recipe. Gorgeous pics!

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18 amelia from Z Tasty Life August 1, 2010 at 8:14 pm

that sounds wonderful and Mediterranean. I make a similar salad with “orzo” pasta.

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19 kathy August 5, 2010 at 11:56 am

oh… YUM. Beautiful photos as always1 I hope you will submit this to Finding Vegan ~Kathy

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20 Trudy ~ veggie num num August 5, 2010 at 8:33 pm

Balsamic DOES make everything better!! delicious recipe!! It’s so colourful!! Oh and I love your new forks :)

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21 nandini.p August 6, 2010 at 11:07 am

Quinoa is my latest love. I make this summer salad and toss it with Tomato and chilli vinegarette. Balsamic sounds delicious.

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22 Vicky April 11, 2012 at 11:23 am

Sounds and looks absolutely delicious!

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23 Ann from Sumptuous Spoonfuls April 16, 2012 at 10:40 am

This is so beautiful I had to pin it to the BEST food blogger recipes Pinterest board!
http://pinterest.com/bachelorsgrill/best-food-blogger-recipes/

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24 Alli May 11, 2012 at 5:32 pm

Light, healthy, yet filling. It looks delicious. And of course… balsamic makes everything better.

Thanks for sharing.

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25 Kendall Bajek May 17, 2012 at 7:55 am

Wow, this recipe looks delicious! I can’t wait to try it tonight with all the fresh produce I got at the farmer’s market!

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26 Yiannab May 22, 2012 at 6:40 pm

I made this tonight and it was delicious! I forgot to add the mozzarella but even still it was wonderful:)

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27 sdp July 29, 2012 at 9:31 am

This looks great! Does anyone know about how many servings this makes?

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Sala @ Veggie Belly Reply:

About 3

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sdp Reply:

nevermind sorry, i just saw that it serves 3!

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28 Nicole May 9, 2013 at 1:22 pm

Do you think this could be served cold mixed together as a salad on a warm day?

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Sala @ Veggie Belly Reply:

Yes of course!

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