Summer Quinoa with Herbs and Toga Eggplant

Serves 4

♦ 8 oz toga eggplants (or 1 medium regular eggplant), stems removed and halved
♦ 1 cup quinoa
♦ 10 sprigs thyme
♦ a few sprigs of tarragon
♦ 1 medium shallot, minced
♦ 1/2 cup fruity white balsamic vinegar
♦ 1/4 cup good olive oil
♦ salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar
♦ 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

Cook the eggplant: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F; toss the eggplant halves with olive oil and arrange on a baking tray. Remove the leaves from 5 of the thyme sprigs and sprinkle over the eggplant. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring every 8 to 10 minutes; or until the eggplant are softened and slightly browned.

Prep the quinoa: While the eggplant is roasting, pour 2 cups of water into a pot with the 1 cup of quinoa. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and then cover with a lid and allow to simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.

Make the dressing: place the balsamic vinegar, oil, a good grind of both salt and pepper, and shallot into a mason jar with a tight lid (or tupperware with tight lid) and shake until emulsified; keep the lid on and set aside.

Pour the dressing – along with the tarragon, chickpeas, and remaining thyme leaves – into the pot with the quinoa. Stir together until combined. Remove the eggplant from the oven and add to the pot, stirring to combine. Add a pinch of sugar and serve hot.