The real beauty of cooking in the summer is that it is almost effortless. There are so many vegetables and fruits to be enjoyed at the peak of their vibrancy, that very little cooking, prepping, or fussiness is required. Don’t get me wrong, I love me a braised beef recipe or slow cooked Bolognese, but I revel in every minute of effortless masterpieces I can create while I can. Because it’s not me. It’s fresh food at it’s best, doing all the work! There’s no need for heavy sauces or complicated salad dressings to mask the taste of “less than fresh” vegetables.
Take this summer strawberry quinoa salad for example. With summer still clinging onto every cell, the peas, strawberries, and dill come from a local organic farm we recently stumbled across in our neck of the woods (the boreal to be exact). They had so many amazing fruits and vegetables for us to pick from, we literally couldn’t take a selection of everything home. So we picked and chose what we missed the most. Strawberries were just coming off their second field and the peas looks ready to eat on the spot. They are in essence the inspiration for this effortless salad.
The only work required was the slow relaxing process of shucking the peas, listening to them ping off the bottom of the bowl while the quinoa was cooking. With the sun on my face and a bag of peas on my lap, I made my way through a pound of freshly picked pods in a matter of a few minutes. In hindsight, I wish I had dragged the experience out longer. I can honestly say it was one of my favorite parts of the day.
To keep things effortless, we enjoyed this with a small charcuterie platter, but it would be equally delicious alongside grilled fish or chicken.
Strawberry quinoa salad with peas and dill
Salad for 2
1/2 cup dry quinoa
1 cup fresh peas
1 cup strawberries cut into fork sized pieces
2 green onions, cut on the bias
1 cup parsley leaves, pulled off the stem
1/4 cup fresh dill, roughly chopped
1. Cook the quinoa according to the package directions or use this technique. During the last 3 minutes of the cooking time, add the peas to the pot. Place the quinoa and the peas in a large bowl and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes. Add the strawberries, green onion, parsley and dill. Toss with the vinaigrette below and season with salt and pepper.
2. Serve with a cheese plate/charcuterie platter or grilled fish or chicken.
For the dressing
1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1-1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon agave (or honey)
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
Whisk together all the ingredients until well combined. Toss with strawberry quinoa salad with peas and mint.