A few months ago it seemed as if we would never see Summer again, but, as always, it has arrived.   Summer is the time for outdoor gatherings, going to the beach, farmers markets, grilled food and lots of salads!  The best hot summer evening meal consists of something cooked on the grill (because who wants to turn on the stove…INSIDE?!) and a great salad full of fresh vegetables.  A salad can be as simple as buying those beautiful mixed greens from the local farm and adding your favorite dressing, or you can jazz it up with anything from tomatoes and cucumbers to cheese, nuts and fruit.  You could even include grains and proteins to make a one dish meal for a balmy evening meal on the deck.  A great, hearty salad I have served a bunch this Spring and early Summer is this yummy Spinach and Quinoa Salad.  I have made it a meal by adding grilled chicken or salmon and it would be good with shrimp or steak as well.

Spinach and Quinoa Salad w/ Strawberries, Asparagus, Avocado, Pumpkin Seeds and Aged Balsamic


1 cup cooked and cooled quinoa
1 teaspoon lemon zest
sea salt and pepper
3 cups baby spinach
1 cup sliced strawberries
1 cup raw Asparagus, sliced thinly on the bias
1 Avocado,  diced
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (optional)
Crumbled Feta (optional)
1 tablespoon aged balsamic
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Combine the quinoa and lemon zest in large bowl and fluff with a fork, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.  Add Spinach, strawberries and asparagus.  Mix gently to combine.

In small to medium bowl, whisk together the vinegar and olive oil.  Season with a pinch of salt and grind of pepper, pour over the spinach-quinoa mixture and gently mix to coat.  Place salad on serving platter or bowl and top with avocado, feta and pumpkin seeds.