Grilled Eggplant Quinoa Avocado Salad


Written by our friend Roni of GreenLiteBites, TheUnworldlytravelers and Roni’s Weigh

Every BBQ I’ve ever attended usually has the same 2 side dishes: potato salad and macaroni salad. Both heavy options, in my opinion, loaded with so much mayonnaise or salad dressing you really can’t appreciate any of the other ingredients. 

Even as a child I wasn’t a fan of these “salads” and I never understood why something so perishable would be served outside during some of the hottest months of the year. Where is the logic in that? 

Well, I’m here today to challenge the BBQ side dish status quo. I want us to think outside of the mayo-based salad box and start appreciating all the wonderful ingredients we can use to make tasty summer sides. 

In this salad I use two vegetables that should really just get married already: eggplant and onion. I know many people stay away from the intimidating purple eggplant but they are very simple to prepare on a hot grill.

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When paired with the sweet crunch of a Vidalia onion something magical happens and together they create a wonderful texture and flavor addition for any salad, really.   

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Quinoa is a wonderful substitution for potatoes or macaroni as your salad base and adding cubed California Avocado provides that creaminess everyone craves. 

It all comes together not with a heavy mayo-based dressing but a light mixture of lemon juice and olive oil flavored with oregano and mustard - the perfect favor boost for our eggplant and onion.

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I challenge you to serve this at your next summer BBQ to mix things up a bit. 

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Grilled Eggplant Quinoa Avocado Salad Recipe

Serves: 4

Prep time:  10 minutes
Cook time: 8-10 minutes
Total time: 18-20 minutes

Ingredients
1 medium eggplant
1 Vidalia onion 
Non-stick cooking spray 
Pinch of Kosher salt, to taste 
2-3 Tbsp. lemon juice (or juice from one lemon) 
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard 
1 Tbsp. honey
1 tsp. dried oregano
Pinch of salt and pepper to taste
1 ripe, Fresh California Avocado, seeded and peeled
2 cups quinoa, cooked 

Directions

  1. Preheat the grill to medium-high temperature
  2. Slice the eggplant and onion into 1/2 inch thick slices. Spray both sides with non-stick cooking spray and sprinkle with a little kosher salt
  3. Grill the eggplant and onion about 4-5 minutes per side so they soften and get nice dark grill marks
  4. While the eggplant and onion are cooking whisk the lemon juice, olive oil, mustard, honey, oregano, salt and pepper (to taste) in a large bowl to make the dressing
  5. Remove the eggplant and onion from the gill and set aside to cool slightly. While they are cooling, cut the avocado into cubes
  6. Cut the eggplant and Vidalia onion into bite size pieces and place in the bowl with the dressing and toss to coat everything. Add the avocado and quinoa and toss again
  7. Enjoy at room temperature! 

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