Balsamic Grilled Summer Vegetables with Basil Quinoa Salad

Have you met quinoa? Let me introduce you. Quinoa is a grain that is shaped like little balls that split open a little when cooked. They’re high in protein and gluten free, and one of my favorite grains because they fill you up without giving you that heavy, stuffed feeling like pasta sometimes does. This recipe from utilizes all the fresh veggies from your garden, fresh basil, tangy balsamic, and creamy mozzarella to make a satisfying yet light summer meal.

Balsamic Grilled Summer Vegetables

For Balsamic Dressing

  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2-3 cloves garlic minced
  • salt and pepper

For grilled summer vegetables

  • 1 small italian eggplant (about 2 cups when cut into big cubes)
  • 1 small zucchini (about 2 cups when cut into big cubes)
  • ½ small red onion (1/4 of a large red onion)
  • ¾ cup cherry tomatoes
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves stripped

For basil quinoa salad

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • ¼ cup basil leaves loosely packed, chopped

Other ingredients

  • 1/2 cup pearlini mozzarella balls, or bocconcini mozzarella balls, tossed in a little salt and pepper (I cheat and use low-fat string cheese by slicing into circles)
    (substitute with pan fried tofu or toasted pine nuts or walnuts for a vegan dish)


  1. Whisk together all the balsamic dressing ingredients and set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, boil water for the quinoa salad. Add quinoa and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer covered, till all the water has been completely absorbed, about 20 minutes.
  3. While quinoa is cooking, cut the eggplant and zucchini into 1½ inch cubes. Cut the red onion into rings. Place cubed eggplant, zucchini, red onion, tomatoes and thyme leaves in a bowl. Pour half the balsamic dressing over the vegetables and toss well.
  4. Brush grill grates with olive oil or non-stick spray (I used a stove top cast iron grill). Heat grill to medium-high. Grill the vegetables about 3 minutes on one side or till grill marks appear, about 3 minutes. Flip them over and grill other side till vegetables are tender but still a bit firm. Tomatoes will cook quicker, remove them from the grill as soon as they start to blister.
  5. Reserve the balsamic dressing that remains in the bowl, to serve with the meal.
  6. If you don’t have a grill, broil the vegetables in the top rack of an oven, till one side is golden. Flip and broil other side.
  7. When the quinoa finishes cooking, toss it with the second half of the balsamic dressing. Stir in chopped basil, salt and pepper.
  8. Spread quinoa on a platter or bowl. Arrange the grilled summer vegetables and mozzarella around the quinoa. Serve warm with the reserved balsamic dressing on the side.

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