Ugh the glory. Seeing this bad boy in the produce market was what started it all. I had this lemony shaved fennel salad that I'd eaten in Paris banging around in my brain, plus this really good falafel, and as soon as I remembered that it was spring and I had stalks on stalks available to me, I set out to shake up my flavor memories and make myself some lunch.
This is really good, you guys. Not even humble brag, mostly just regular brag. This is really good tasting. You should make this today.
Baked Eggplant Quinoa Cakes with Shaved Asparagus Salad
for the cakes:
(makes 6 large rounds but a ton of little falafel-esque nuggets would be a great thing.)
1 medium eggplant, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1/3 cup flour (I used corn flour because we had it)
for the salad:
(I don't understand giving measurements for salads. You know how to make a salad.)
1 bunch asparagus
half a lemon
coarse salt (Mal-duh)
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Cook the eggplant along with the garlic and oregano in olive oil over medium heat, about ten minutes. Your goal is not browned so much as mushy; about halfway in, add a teeny bit of water and cover the pan to help this along.
Dump eggplant mush into a bowl and mash it a little bit with the back of a spoon. Add the egg, cooked quinoa, flour, salt and pepper and mix until combined.
While cakes are baking, assemble the salad. Shave raw and washed asparagus using whatever tool you have; I had a way easier time with this cheese slicer, but I imagine a good potato peeler would work just as well. Holding the base of the stalk with one hand, run peeler up from about half an inch from the bottom all the way through the spear. One fell swoop makes for a pretty piece of shaved thing. Continue until each stalk is shaved through, discarding the ends. I left some shaved pieces super long, and cut some in half, just for variety's sake and for ease of eating.
Toss asparagus ribbons with a bunch of arugula, crumbled feta, and fresh lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.
SIDE NOTE: I bought Dodoni feta at the Greek imports store (because that's a thing) and someone in America needs to tell me if it is available there. Because this feta...is Change Your Life feta. This is bomb-ass feta. I didn't think you could improve upon feta but here is the proof. I will say feta again now to drive the point home. Feta. Thank you.
Place a cake in the center of a flowery plate and smash it down with a spoon. This is wholly unnecessary but makes for a bigger salad base. The floral plate, though, I think, is required. If I could do this again, I would have smeared hummus across the top of the cake. Not because it needed anything in particular; things are just improved with hummus. Top with a handful of salad. Serve at a fancy garden party, or eat it by yourself while sitting on the floor of the kitchen, writing this blog post with your forkless hand.