My family and I spent the better part of Saturday slinging veggie fare at the annual Big Green Egg Eggfest. For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, allow me to explain: the Big Green Egg is a ceramic, avocado shaped smoker/bbq and Eggfest is its annual party.
My father is hopelessly devoted to his “Egg”, so much so that he spent years perfecting his various recipes with smoke chips (“Did you taste the alder?”), demands that pie be heated on it, and, when the egg’s base broke two summers ago, he was very, very sad. (It tumbled onto the driveway, crashing into hundreds of little pieces like Humpty Dumpty.) Heartbroken, my father sent me an email asking for a moment of silence for the egg – “Egg down. I repeat, egg down.” Sympathy cards ensued, and my father replaced the broken base within the week.
So, as you can imagine, this little grill has many other followers, and they’re just as obsessed. Each year, they get together at Eggfest to serve up their favourite recipes for the public. Now, this isn’t a dinky little backyard barbeque party. This is the real deal.
After years of joking that we should come to the pulled pork, brisket and short rib fiesta armed with a vegetarian menu, we decided to just do it.
I was a little nervous about how people would react to our lightened up vegetarian menu, but, people loved it! People were serving wild and wacky combinations of food, but everyone was more than willing to try the quinoa and grilled broccoli dishes. This couple came back for seconds, proclaiming veggies their favourite of the day. Score!
We decided to make a delicious grilled broccoli dish (above), which can be found in the Ottolenghi cookbook.
The quinoa dish is one of my favourite creations. It’s made with grilled vegetables (of course!), and is absolutely delicious warm or cold. I serve it to one of my pickiest friends (always a good indicator of taste factor), and she always seems to request it. It’s such a lovely salad to eat outside with a cold glass of white wine. Here’s the recipe:
Healthy Delicious Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 medium eggplant, cut into 1” slices
2 medium zucchinis, cut ito 1” slices (be sure to buy organic, as these suckers are commonly genetically modified… ew!)
Sea salt and black pepper
½ cup fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp lemon zest
½ cup olive oil
Sea salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup basil, roughly torn
¼ cup mint, roughly torn
½ cup pine nuts, toasted
Optional: ¼ red onion, thinly sliced, 1 cup spinach
Brush the zucchini and eggplant with a little olive oil, and dust with some salt and pepper. Grill on medium heat until you have pretty grill marks. Remove from heat, allow to cool slightly, and cut into 1” cubes.
Meanwhile, cook quinoa. Set aside in a big bowl.
Make the dressing, adjusting seasoning to taste. Assemble the salad by stirring in the chopped eggplant and zucchini, topping with the dressing, giving everything a good stir. Top with herbs and pine nuts, and serve.