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Spinach and Quinoa Salad with Strawberries and Balsamic (c)2013 La Domestique

Happy May Day to you! Here in Ireland, spring has been slow to reveal herself. Though the weather has been unseasonably cool, I do see a bit more sunshine and the breeze feels a tad warmer with each passing day. I’ve been waiting for the morning frosts to depart so I can plant my herb garden. We’re renting a house after years living in the concrete jungle of an apartment complex, so I’m looking forward to having room for growing plants and a shed to store bags of compost and gardening tools. Here in Cavan we’ve got a lovely local bookshop,the Crannóg, where I picked up a copy of Grow Your Own Crops in Pots, by Kay Maguire and the Royal Horticultural Society. Are you into container gardening? Please do share any tips or plants you love to grow in the comments section.

It’s been 1 month since we moved to Ireland, and little by little, we’re getting settled in our new home. We left America with two suitcases each and sold the rest of our possessions. Starting over is a strange feeling, but it sure does lend perspective as to what one really needs. In our lives this truly is spring, a time of regeneration. For my next post here on La Domestique I think I’ll share a peek into my new kitchen space. It’s about to become very busy in there as I get back to developing recipes. May is such an exciting month! I relish the tender salad greens, peppery radishes, tart rhubarb, and freshly harvested asparagus spears. Strawberries are on their way, and before long the perfume of elderflowers will fill the air. It’s all happening!

Today I’ve got a spring salad to share with you. This is the last of the work I did while we lived in the U.S.– the end of one chapter and the beginning of the next. After a long winter a tender, leafy salad with generous handfuls of spring herbs is a welcome thing. In this recipe, protein-rich quinoa lends heft, while strawberries and balsamic vinegar pair refreshing sweetness with green leafy spinach. I have a real thing for the Spanish Marcona almonds– to me they are a luxury I truly enjoy. Creamy, tangy goat cheese always makes a salad feel more spring-y, don’t you think? Be generous with the freshly ground black pepper, you’ll be surprised how well the spice compliments the strawberries. Enjoy this salad while sitting in the sun, even better with soft green grass tickling your toes and birds singing in the background.

Ingredients for Strawberry, Spinach, and Quinoa Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette (c)2013 La Domestique

Strawberry, Spinach, and Quinoa Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cooked brown quinoa
  • 3 ounces spinach leaves (or 1 5oz container packaged spinach leaves)
  • 1 pint fresh strawberries
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped chives
  • 1/3 cup Marcona almonds
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon aged balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 ounce soft goat cheese
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

In a large bowl, toss together quinoa, spinach, strawberries, basil and chives. Make the vinaigrette by pouring balsamic vinegar into a medium bowl with a pinch of sea salt and then gradually whisking in the extra virgin olive oil. Pour the vinaigrette over the salad and toss to evenly coat. Sprinkle almonds and goat cheese over the salad and serve with freshly ground black pepper.