Every food blog needs an interjection of hilarity from time to time. Mine most often comes from kitchen mishaps: a soup explosion on the ceiling (be careful pureeing those hot soups in the blender!), a gray strawberry cheesecake (thank you aluminum springform pan), or a black bean pound cake (this deserves a post of its own…to be continued).
How sweet it is to instead have the merriment fall in one’s lap with no effort and no wasted groceries.
It began innocently enough. I had fruit. I wanted fruit salad. I googled for inspiration.
I did not find it. But I did find this: Candle Salad. Behold:
Can you believe it? I nearly fell off my chair in a fit of giggles. The vertical banana…the cherry… the whipped cream, for heaven’s sake! A bit of investigating and I discovered that this was a recipe developed in the fifties for a children’s cookbook: Betty Crocker’s Cookbook for Boys & Girls, circa 1957. Oy vey!
OK, I’ll cut it out and get on with the cooking. (And you thought I was a serious sort. Ha! I am happy to burst that bubble). I decided to turn my fruit bounty, notably my strawberries into a high-protein meal rather than a side. Specifically, a quinoa salad with cucumbers, strawberries, almonds and mint.
Are you new to quinoa? It is a considered a superfood by nutritionists because it is one of the only plants that provides all of the essential amino acids (making it a complete protein). It is typically sold as a grain, but technically it is a seed, classified as a “pseudocereal.”
Quinoa–which has a pleasant earthy, nutty flavor and is naturally gluten-free– is is as fast and easy to cook as rice, and incredibly versatile, too. You can add eat it as a porridge, a pudding, stir it into baked goods, serve as a side dish, or toss with a host of other delicious, wholesome ingredients for all varieties of salads, as I’ve done here. With the crunch of fresh cucumbers and roasted almonds, the lush, bright flavor of the strawberries, and the exotic flavor of mint, this is a summer salad to remember (and, unlike candle salad, you’ll remember it for all of the right reasons!).
- 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
- 1-3/4 cups water
- 2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ½ of a hothouse (English) cucumber, washed, halved lengthwise and sliced.
- 2 cups cleaned, stemmed and quartered strawberries
- ½ cup roasted, lightly salted whole almonds, coarsely chopped
- ½ cup packed fresh mint leaves, torn
- In a medium saucepan, combine quinoa and water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes. Fluff with fork, transfer to a large bowl and let cool completely.
- In a small bowl, whisk together lime zest, lime juice, oil, and salt.
- To the quinoa, add cucumber, strawberries, almonds and mint. Add dressing and gently toss to coat.