There are two things you should know about me: 1) I absolutely hate making salads at home, and 2) I really love eating salads. It’s just that I really think salads, like any good college party, should have a theme. Not in the sense that I want a Tight ‘n Bright lunch, but I want something made up of elements that complement each other similarly to the way neon and spandex just mesh, you know? Despite being vegetarian and eating a whole lotta vegetables on the reg, I haven’t quite developed the salad-making skill required for this endeavour. Thank goodness, someone else has.
A few weeks ago I had a great friend come visit, and to celebrate we went out to lunch. I ordered an amazing strawberry spinach salad that I could only dream of recreating at home (but for $14, I guess it couldn’t hurt to try). Then by some miracle, Kate posted an almost exact replica of said spinach salad on her blog, Cookie + Kate. Was it salad fate? Methinks yes. Honestly, this salad was one of the most delicious that my kitchen has seen, and it’s suuuper easy to make (promise). The quinoa and nuts give it a protein-y punch and the strawberries make it perfect for summertime, which means the theme of this food party is definitely something along the lines of ‘summer beach party’ meets ‘island paradise’.
Since having a theme seems to be my only criteria for a good salad, I’d have to dub this recipe an A+ in my book. Now all we need is a mojito and we can enjoy the sunshiney pants off this meal!
- 3/4 cup cooked quinoa (use 1/4 cup uncooked + 1/2 cup water to make)
- 3 tbsp goat cheese, crumbled
- black pepper and sea salt, to taste
- 2/3 cup strawberries
- 2 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped
- 3 tbsp cashews, coarsely chopped
- Lime wedges and sanding sugar for garnish (optional)
for the dressing
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 tsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp real maple syrup
- Cook the quinoa. While waiting, make the dressing by combining all dressing ingredients in a small jar or container. Use a whisk to combine completely. Taste the dressing and adjust the flavours as necessary: more vinegar will make a more tart dressing, and more maple syrup will make a sweeter dressing. Set aside.
- Toast the cashews: in a small pan over medium heat, heat some olive oil. Add the cashews and toast until fragrant and golden brown. This should take approximately 5 minutes.
- In a bowl, mix together the quinoa, goat cheese, salt, and pepper. Mix in the strawberries and spinach, and drizzle with dressing. Top with toasted nuts and enjoy!
Seeing as I’ve made this salad 4 times in the past week and a half, there are a few other ingredient options and substitutions to note:
- The original recipe used pecans instead of cashews; they taste great as well, and are prepared and toasted in the same manner as the cashews
- If preferred, some or all of the spinach can be substituted for kale. Make sure to remove kale stems and allow the leaves to marinate in the dressing for approximately 15 minutes before adding other ingredients. I’d suggest marinating the kale while you toast the nuts.
- Sliced avocado makes a great addition to this salad as well!