Quinoa is my go-to grain these days because it is so satisfying and has a great texture. I love it in salads, especially this vegetarian/vegan one, which features Moroccan flavors. The eggplant adds body, the apple crunch and freshness, and the cumin warmth. This salad will keep for several days.
Quinoa, Roasted Eggplant, and Apple Salad with Cumin Vinaigrette
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons plus 1½ teaspoons apple cider vinegar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
? teaspoon ground cinnamon
? teaspoon ground cloves
1 large shallot, finely chopped
2 cups vegetable broth
1¼ cups quinoa
Vegetable oil cooking spray
1 (1¼-pound) eggplant, cut into ½-inch cubes
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large apple, such as Honey Crisp or Golden Delicious, cut into ½-inch pieces
¾ cup walnut pieces, toasted
½ cup unsweetened dried cranberries
1 large bunch of watercress
For the vinaigrette: Toast the cumin seeds in a heavy medium skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the seeds darken in color and become fragrant, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the seeds out onto a plate and let cool for a minute or two. Grind the seeds fine in a small spice or coffee grinder.
Whisk the oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, cinnamon, cloves, and 1½ teaspoons of the toasted cumin in a small bowl until thick and blended. Stir in the shallot.
For the salad: Position an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F.
Bring the broth to a simmer in a heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Mix in the quinoa. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the quinoa stand, covered, for 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl, let cool, and then fluff with a fork.
Meanwhile, spray a large rimmed baking sheet with vegetable oil cooking spray. On the baking sheet, toss the eggplant with the oil, salt, and pepper. Roast, stirring once, until tender and browned, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly, 5 minutes.
Add the vinaigrette, eggplant, apple, walnuts, and cranberries to the quinoa and toss to blend.
Just before serving, cover the bottom of a shallow platter with the watercress. Spoon the quinoa salad on top and serve immediately.