I’ve complained about the weather too much of late, but one of the benefits of having an extended summer is you get to eat salad for quite a considerable part of the year. This quinoa salad makes a perfect lunch (or dinner if it’s too hot to cook). With just a spritz of lemon juice for the dressing, this combination of fresh ingredients leaves you happy and satisfied.
For me, salads are like sandwiches. No one needs to be told how to make either. It’s coming up with new ideas that’s the problem. For so long, salad was about throwing some lettuce, tomato, carrot and cucumber in a bowl and whipping up a dressing. It certainly still has its place…if you put something else with it, like a good serving of whatever barbecued meats take your fancy. It’s an accompaniment rather than a meal.
So when you want something more, you have a couple of options: a book, your imagination, or recreating an amazing salad that you may have eaten at a cafe. This quinoa salad falls into the latter category. We recently visited The Top Shop in Byron Bay for lunch. The thing about Byron Bay is the town precinct can be fairly intense. If it’s a hot day, the sun really heats up the streets and because it’s flat, you don’t get much breeze. It can also be very busy. So if you want somewhere to have lunch that’s a bit cooler and a bit more relaxed, you need to get out of the confines of the town.
The Top Shop fits the bill perfectly. Sitting up on the hill, it catches the breeze, and if you time it right (either before or after the lunch rush) there won’t be a crowd. The food is simple, fresh and delicious. On our visit we shared a toasted chicken and pesto sandwich and a quinoa salad. The food was perfect and put us in the right mood for an afternoon at the beach. What more could you want?
This is my take on their quinoa salad. Enjoy!
- 250 grams quinoa
- 1 x 400g tin chickpeas, drained
- 1 Lebanese cucumber, chopped into cubes
- 200 grams cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 1 small red onion, finely chopped
- 80 grams, goats cheese
- 80 grams dry roasted almonds, roughly chopped
- couple of handfuls of baby spinach leaves
- handful each of mint and parsley
- juice of 1 lemon
- Cook the quinoa according to the instructions on the packet. Leave to cool.
- In a large salad bowl, combine the quinoa, chickpeas, cucumber, tomatoes, red onion, spinach leaves and almonds.
- Finely chopped the leaves of the parsley and mint and add to the bowl.
- Break the goats cheese into the salad, and squeeze the juice of the lemon over the top. Gently toss the salad.
- Serve with a slice of lemon.