This quinoa salad has a little bit of everything, except the kitchen sink! At first glance these ingredients might seem a bit dissonant, be assured they come together harmoniously. Pack for a picnic, present at a potluck, or nosh at your desk this nutrient packed salad works as a side dish or your meal's main event. Change the fruits and vegetables as needed.
During my time in Dublin, Ireland I frequently found myself drawn down Suffolk Street and into the wonderland that was the Avoca Store & Cafe. Setting a foot over the threshold was a glorious way to lose a few hours and gain a few pounds.
The main floor was packed with treasures and delights. In addition to piles of fluffy blankets and scarves made in the Avoca Woolen Mills, there were displays of fragrant soaps and lotions, racks of your new favorite cardigans and skirts, shelves of coffee table humor, lovely soft things that only aunties or grandmas buy for newly expected babies, and a knick-nack for every paddy-wack. For U.S. shoppers the selection is similar to Anthropology but with more variety. You have to pass through the heart of the store to reach the food (that's good marketing).
The upper level housed their bistro cafe where they were serving a menu of bright seasonal food, not because it was trendy (yet) but because that is what tastes best. I tended to gravitate to the lower level of the building, the deli and food hall (gourmet grocery). There was always a selection of colorful salads. Each salad was made from vegetables, fruits, grains, potatoes, sprinkled with toasted nuts, goat cheese, and herbs. They were as abundant in color as texture, easily a meal unto themselves. Next to the salads were rich quiches, homey soups, and a rotating selection of meat and veg. entrees.
Everything I tried in an Avoca Cafe or deli was a treat, but nearly ten years later it is the salads that I crave. A few years ago it occurred to me, with so many signature dishes there must be a cookbook. I was right but, sadly it seems the book is no longer in print. I hope to someday find a copy at a second hand shop. Even without the book I have found a few recipes. I sure do miss the sights and sounds of Dublin but at least I can have the salads!
Avoca Cafe Super Food Quinoa Salad
- 1 cup quinoa uncooked
- 1 pounds asparagus woody ends removed & cut in 1 inch pieces
- ½ pounds broccoli chopped into bite size pieces similar to the asparagus
- 1 cup frozen edamame thawed
- 4 cups kale torn into bite size pieces
- 1 cup grape tomatoes halved
- 1 ½ cups strawberries quartered
- ½ cup toasted sunflower seeds no shell
- 1 cup crumbled reduced fat feta cheese
- 1 cup Ligh French Dressing see recipe below
- Prepare the quinoa according to the package directions, be sure not to over cook. To cool the quinoa quickly spread it on a parchment lined cookie sheet and place it in the refrigerator.
- While the quinoa is cooking, blanch the vegetables by cooking in boiling water for about 3 minutes. Taste test for doneness. They are done when they have turned bright green and are easy to bite but still a bit crunchy. Drain the water from the vegetables through a sieve and rinse them under cold water until they are cool to the touch.
- Assemble the salad by layering the cooled vegetables, quinoa, and remained ingredients in a large salad bowl. Gently toss to combine with 1 cup of Lighter French Dressing.
- Refrigerate for 1 - 3 hours before serving. Leftovers will keep 1-3 days in the refrigerator.
If desired, add or substitute toasted almonds for the sunflower seeds.
Use only fresh fruit for this salad. As the seasons change try red grapefruit segments or blueberries in place of strawberries.
Light French Dressing
Adapted from "Avoca Cafe Cookbook” French Dressing, by Hugo Arnold with Leylie Hayes
- ½ cup sunflower or grape seed oil
- ½ cup olive oil
- 1 cup red wine vinegar
- 2-3 garlic cloves minced
- 3 tablespoons dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons honey
- Salt to taste
- Pepper to taste
- Measure all the ingredients in to a large mixing bowl or quart sized mason jar.
- Whisk vigorously, or seal and shake the jar, until the ingredients have blended to become all one color.
- Refrigerate the dressing in a glass jar or bottle with a tight seal.
The FTC would like you to know: Bob's Red Mill has generously provided all the grain featured in the Going with the Grain series. Thank you Bob's Red Mill!