August has always felt like the beginning of the end of summer to me, a reminder of the scant few weeks left in the season.
Unlike last year, this summer has felt different and unmemorable. Last summer, we managed to fill our free time with delightful pursuits; we had leisurely suppers on the beach and drank rosé on the balcony while watching the sun go down. We’d set off to someplace refreshing and inspiring on the weekends to escape the drudgery of the week.
Lately I’ve been pretty much holed up inside, hunched over a tiny screen; this isn’t how I want to remember this summer; because when the cold and dreariness return, I’ll beat myself up over all the things I didn’t get to do, and that is the worst.
I did make plans for this summer, so perhaps August is a gentle reminder to get to it, there’s still time to do that road trip to Portland, that train ride to Seattle and that spa day on the Sunshine Coast.
‘More salads’ was another one of my summer plans and thankfully I’ve managed to make ‘salad for dinner’ a regular thing at home. Summer salads are an exciting way to enjoy the colourful bounty of produce that is in season now.
From the farmers’ market we’ve picked up juicy red tomatoes and strawberries, early summer peas and baby potatoes, succulent peaches and the reddest cherries, and we’ve made some bright and pretty salads.
This quinoa, mango and carrot salad is from earlier on; I wanted to make something special with some golden-yellow hued mangoes we’ve gotten from Mexico. I remembered this salad from the checkout line at the Whole Foods in Union Square – the California quinoa salad, the women in front of me sang its praises, they had it for lunch almost daily and never got tired of it.
I searched online and found 101 variations…, it’s packed with healthful flavour-filled ingredients like quinoa, mangoes, coconut, carrots, bell pepper, raisin, sweet corn and peas.
The great thing about this salad is that it’s adaptable, add in your favourite vegetables or whatever you have on hand. The original ingredients had edamame but I omitted them since I have someone with soy allergy in my house, added some peas and carrots instead.
Tender mangoes and nutty coconut bring a sweet tropical flare to the salad, and everything else tossed in create a fresh and wonderful combination of flavours and textures.
This is a substantial salad that easily makes a main course, with plenty left over for a hearty lunch, and hopefully makes summer a little memorable.
- 2 cups quinoa (preferably a mix of red and white quinoa)
- 3 1/2 – 4 cups vegetable stock or water
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 large mango, chopped (or 2 small mangoes)
- 1 small red onion, chopped
- 1 medium to large red bell pepper, chopped
- 2 medium carrots, chopped
- 1 cup cooked sweet corn
- 1 cup cooked peas
- 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1 cup raisins
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Juice from 2 limes
- 3 – 4 tablespoons champagne vinegar (or rice vinegar or white wine vinegar)
- 1 teaspoons maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small bunch cilantro, chopped (or less, or use parsley)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Rinse quinoa thoroughly under running water using a fine mesh strainer
- Combine quinoa, vegetable stock (or water) and salt in a pot and bring to boil over medium-high heat
- Lower heat and let it simmer until fully cooked and liquid is absorbed
- Fluff with a fork and set aside to cool
- Alternatively, you can cook quinoa in a rice cooker - Put rinsed quinoa in rice cooker with vegetable stock or water and salt, stir and set to cook per machine instructions (using white rice settings if available). Fluff with fork when your rice cooker shuts off and set aside to cool
- Combine mango, onion, bell pepper, carrot, corn and peas in a large bowl
- Add cooled quinoa, shredded coconut, raisins and salt and toss gently to mix
- Whisk lime juice, vinegar, maple syrup and olive oil in a small bowl or cup
- Pour dressing over quinoa, add cilantro and toss to coat completely
- Check for salt and pepper add more to taste if needed
- To cook corn and peas - bring water to a boil in a small saucepan, add corn and peas with a pinch of salt, stir and cook for about 5 minutes, drain and set aside. Or cook on high in a microwave for about 5 minutes