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Quinoa Salad with Strawberries, Almonds and Mint
Quinoa Salad with Strawberries, Almonds and Mint Photo courtesy of Jake Gartland

Memorial Day officially marks the start of picnic season, which means we’re already hunting for dishes that transport well and offer our friends something a bit more tantalizing than plain potato salad. Our search for a standout side yielded this light, nutty quinoa salad from Mette Williams, chef of Culina in Los Angeles. We love the unexpected combination of the wholesome grains and slivered strawberries as well as the delicate almond vinaigrette that ties the dish together. And we’ll give Williams bonus points for providing a dish that’s quick to make and easy to scale up to suit outdoor parties of any size.

Makes 6 side-dish servings (about 5 cups)

1 cup quinoa

3 tablespoons almond oil

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons champagne vinegar

Juice of 1 lemon

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

6 strawberries, trimmed and thinly sliced

2 scallions, white and light-green parts only, thinly sliced

½ cup crumbled feta cheese

¼ cup sliced or slivered almonds, toasted

½ English cucumber, peeled and roughly chopped

2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves

2 tablespoons thinly sliced mint leaves

1. In a medium saucepan set over high heat, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add the quinoa, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the quinoa is tender and has absorbed all the water, about 12 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Transfer the quinoa to a large baking sheet or plate and spread it out to cool to room temperature.

2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl or glass measuring cup, whisk the almond oil with the olive oil, champagne vinegar and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, combine the cooled quinoa with the strawberries, scallions, feta cheese, almonds, cucumber, parsley and mint. Re-whisk the dressing and pour it over the salad. Toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then serve.

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