For the Pilaf
1 large English cucumber
2 small, long eggplants, about 5 to 6 inches or 1 slender long eggplant of a larger variety)
Olive oil for grilling
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup quinoa
1 cup 2 % milk
1 cup water
1 1/2 tablespoon white miso (we used barley miso, which is darker)
3tablespoons chopped cilantro
Prepare a medium gas or charcoal grill.
Trim ends off cucumber and eggplants. Slice eggplants in half lengthwise. Cut cucumber crosswise into thirds, then cut each piece in half lengthwise. Place vegetables in a baking pan and drizzle cut sides with olive oil, rubbing oil with your fingertip to cover the vegetables. Set aside until grill is hot.
While you are waiting for your grill to heat up, start your quinoa by melting butter in a small saucepan. Add quinoa and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly to toast the grains. After about 5 minutes, quinoa should start to pop and smell nutty (a few grains will turn golden brown). At this point, add milk and water, and whisk in miso. Cover pot and adjust heat to maintain a simmer. Cook for 17 to 20 minutes until grains are tender and liquid has been absorbed. Remove pot from heat.
Grill cucumber and eggplant pieces cut side down until lightly charred and tender, about 5 minutes for cucumber and 7 to 8 for eggplant. Flip and grill skin side down for 2 to 3 minutes more. Cucumber skin will start to wrinkle and eggplant flesh should yield easily when poked with a knife. Transfer to a cutting board and let cool slightly. Slice cucumbers and eggplants crosswise into half moons.
Fluff quinoa and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add sliced cucumber, eggplant, and half of the cilantro. Whisk or shake dressing to re-emulsify and add to taste (note that tamari and miso can both vary widely in saltiness, so dress sparingly at first, then add more as you like). I use about half of the dressing. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, gently fold to combine components of pilaf. Taste and add more dressing if desired. Transfer to a serving platter. Sprinkle with remaining cilantro. Serve warm or at room temperature. Pilaf is also delicious cold, the next day. Enjoy! Serves 4 to 6 as a side
For the Soy Dressing
1/4 cup gluten-free tamari
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
Juice from 1/2 an orange (about 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup canola oil
Combine tamari and vinegar in a small saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat. Lower heat to a simmer and cook until mixture is reduced to 1/4 cup, about 6 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in orange juice and canola oil. Transfer to a glass jar with a lid. This will make more dressing than you need for this recipe. Use remaining as a dressing for other grilled vegetables or as a marinade for meat.