Now that summer is here, I’m giving my oven a break.
I’m not one of those cooks who doesn’t bake or roast anything from June to September, but I do tend to avoid dishes that require the dry heat of an oven. It’s searing enough outside.
When I want to remember the lighter, brighter side of summer, I make a dish like this quinoa and avocado salad from Blue Prairie, the restaurant inside NLand Surf Park east of the airport. With crunchy pepitas, cucumbers and tangy citrus dressing, it was one of the more refreshing dishes I had during these last weeks of spring.
Even if you don’t have a view of the surfers riding waves and a freshly brewed craft beer in your hand, this protein- and fiber-packed salad dotted with tomatoes — and feta, if you like — reminds us that there is an upside to every season.
Quinoa and Avocado Salad
Feel free to use untoasted pumpkin seeds or pepitas. If you have a toaster oven or don’t mind the heat, roast them on a small sheet tray at 350 degrees for about seven minutes. Cool at room temperature and toss in the salad.
1 1/2 cups quinoa, raw
For the citrus dressing:
1/2 cup orange juice, freshly squeezed
1/4 cup lime juice, freshly squeezed
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons wildflower honey
1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt to taste, between 1/2 and 1 teaspoon
For the salad:
2 ripe avocados, diced
1 large English cucumber, peeled and diced
1 large shallot, minced
1/2 pint ripe grape tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
Salt, to taste
Bring a pot with 6 cups of water to a rolling boil. Once the water is boiling, slowly stir in the quinoa and set a timer for 17 minutes. When the time is up, strain the quinoa and run cold water over the cooked quinoa while still in the strainer to cool.
In a blender, combine all the dressing ingredients except for the oil and salt. Blend until combined. Once mixed, slowly pour the oil in and blend until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and season with salt.
In a large salad bowl, combine the cooked quinoa, avocado, cucumber, shallot and tomatoes. Give the dressing a stir and pour over the top, using only as much as you’d like. You’ll have extra dressing left over that you can use for other salads. Garnish with the chopped cilantro and pumpkin seeds and season to taste. Serves 4 to 6.
— NLand Surf Park chef Scott Kaplan