Mushroom & Spinach Quinoa with Aubergines

Yay! It's day one of the Cape Town Vegan Challenge. For all my excitement and anticipation, a wave of panic hit me at 16h00 yesterday - I had absolutely no idea what to make for lunch today. Yes, in an absolute emergency, I could always pack a few apples and carrots - but in order for this to work, I needed to be a little more creative than that.

We went grocery shopping - with no particular meal in mind - so bought a general assortment of vegetables on special : aubergine, cauliflower, carrots and mushrooms, along with some stand-by vegetable stock. I headed into the kitchen and searched for inspiration. 

We love fried aubergine slices, so that was an easy place to start - but hardly enough for lunch.

Then, the quinoa challenge began. From the start, I'm not really a grain / legume kinda gal (I know quinoa is technically a seed, but it falls into the same edible category for me). Every time you see me post a recipe with chickpeas, lentils or beans - know I'm doing a little victory dance on the other side.

I simply cooked an assortment of vegetables and flavourings - added it to the (hopefully cooked) quinoa - and hoped for the best. You know what? It was actually pretty darn delicious. Vegan victory.

Serves 2
250ml quinoa
375ml vegetable stock
2 tbsp coconut oil
2 spring onions, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
125g mushrooms, sliced
1 small orange or red pepper, diced
1 medium aubergine, cut into 1cm slices
handful baby English spinach
salt to taste

For the dressing:
3 tbsp olive oil
zest of one lemon
juice of half a lemon or lime
1 tsp honey

Place the quinoa and vegetable stock in a saucepan. Bring to the boil, seal with a tight-fitting lid and allow to very gently simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the lid and allow the rest of the moisture to evaporate over the heat. Allow to cool, while fluffing with a fork.

While the quinoa is cooking, start with your vegetables. Heat a frying pan over a medium-high heat, add 1 tbsp of the coconut oil. Add the aubergine slices and allow to cook for 2-3 minutes on each side - or until browning - before turning over. Add more coconut oil if needed. Continue until they are very tender when pierced with a knife.

Once the aubergine slices are cooked, remove them from the pan. Add the remaining coconut oil, together with the spring onions, pepper, garlic and mushroom. Fry until the mushrooms are cooked and beginning to colour. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the baby spinach. Stir ingredients for the dressing together and add to the pan, tossing gently. Add to the quinoa, tossing until well combined. Serve with the aubergine slices on the slide - warm or at room temperature.

Thanks to Wellness Warehouse for helping us be healthier - and making the challenge easier.


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