Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Minted Strawberry Quinoa Salad in an Amaretto Dressing

Have you ever noticed how life's little mysteries get sorted and solved during long car rides?

I just returned from a brief road trip with our eldest son.  A weekend soccer tournament in beautiful Vermont that saw us spending 12 hours in the car together. 

The weekend itself could not have gone better.  From the generous hospitality of the people in Rutland Vermont to the glorious sun shining over the mountains and fields, we were treated to one of the smoothest and most enjoyable tournaments we've ever attended.

My son's team happened to win this year's tournament, but that wasn't the most memorable part of the trip for me.  No, the most memorable part of the trip for this mom, was the collection of weird and wonderful questions that came up during our car ride that amused and delighted me to the core.

Here is just a sample of the conversation starters:

- Mom, do you think humans have always been able to laugh?  I'm just wondering because no other living species is able to.  What makes people laugh anyway?

- Mom, what's the difference between a freckle and a birthmark?  Why do some people have lots of birthmarks and other people hardly have any? 

- Mom, do you think the smell of skunk seeps into the car through the closed windows or the air vents or a combination of both? (I couldn't help but laugh out loud at this one.  Not because it wasn't a valid question worthy of exploration but because I can sincerely say that I have never, at any point in my life, contemplated how the smell of skunk gets into a car.  I love boys!!).

Minted Strawberry Quinoa Salad in an Amaretto Dressing

For the Salad
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 5 large mint leaves, finely chopped + a few leaves for garnish
  • 6-8 large strawberries, fiely chopped + a few strawberries for garnish
  • 1/4 cup natural almonds, sliced + a few almonds for garnish

For the Amaretto Dressing
  • 4 heaping Tbsp plain yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp amaretto liqueur (I used Disaronno), substitute 2 tsp pure almond extract for a non-alcoholic version
  • 1 tsp honey

This is a unique and beautiful salad that is simple yet elegant and full of complex flavours.  It would make a perfect starter for guests on a summer's evening.

The almond notes in the amaretto are a gorgeous complement to the sweetness of the strawberry, each intensifying the other's flavour. The mint brings the freshness of summer supported by the texture of the sliced almond.

I've had this salad in my head for weeks and am so happy to finally deliver it on the page.

I hope you enjoy it.


Prepare quinoa according to package directions (generally 1:2 ratio of quinoa to water).

Once quinoa has cooled (you can cool it in the fridge if you like), add in the sliced strawberry, mint and sliced almond. 

Meanwhile, place amaretto dressing ingredients together in a small bowl, whisking to combine.  If you find the dressing too thick (depending on what yogurt you use), simply add a little milk or olive oil. 

Drizzle amaretto dressing over the salad and gently combine with the ingredients, taking care not to mash the fruit.

Plate the salad onto four individual dishes and top with mint, strawberry and sliced almond as desired.


Our weekend setting  

soccer pitch below...


bon app├ętit ~


  1. It's a very pretty salad, and gorgeous fresh flavours. And I have a packet of quinoa still waiting for me to use it!

  2. First of all - can your pictures be any more gorgeous?! From the food to the serene countryside of Vermont! I love them all. Most of all I love the questions you got. I get those all the time from Mr. N. Aren't they great! I particularly like the laughing question - very insightful. :) And I'm so glad you two had a great trip. It sounds like perfection. I would love a road trip with just one of the kids. I've talked about doing that with them each as they get older. There is just something about a long car trip - it does tend to solve problems. :) And I'm loving this salad. It looks like the perfect summer lunch or dinner. It's just beautiful - love the colors!

  3. Wonderful! I am too taken by the questions of your son to indulge in the recipe, but I know that will happen soon...

    what an adorable boy, and how cool that keeping a blog like this will help you register all these great moments that in past generations were often forgotten by busy parents. Unless there into writing diaries or something ;-)

    beautiful scenery - I've been to Vermont only once, on a quick escapade (with Phil) from a scientific meeting in New York. It was a magical afternoon, will always cherish those memories

  4. This salad certainly is unique. I don't believe I've had anything like those combinations before. It sounds so refreshing!
    It's funny you came up with those cute questions from the kids for this post. I'd just came back from hearing my niece tell her grandma, "Gwamma, you eat like a camel!"
    I can't tell you how much I hurt my tummy muscles laughing.

  5. --What a great road trip! I miss those soccer tounaments. & I love boys, too.

    This dish looks like a great SUMMER DISH, Kelly. Mmmmm.

    Btw, My cat laughs his butt off...usually at my expense! Xxxx

  6. Mandy - The Complete Cook BookMay 30, 2012 at 9:51 AM

    This is an absolute taste explosion for the tastebuds.
    :-) Mandy

  7. What beautiful photos of your trip, Kelly.
    Although I don't have kids myself, I know my nieces and nephews have come up with their share of out of the blue questions! A couple of years ago, at a dinner at our house with my SIL, nephew and niece, my 7 year old niece asks me: "Auntie Eva, why is it that you and your boyfriend don't fight?" (she couldn't reconcile that we were married because we have no children). My 10 year old nephew immediately pipes up, before any of the adults could even think of an answer, "Annie, it's because they don't have kids." We all burst out laughing.
    What a coincidence, JT and I made a Carribean inspired quinoa with shrimp last night. I absolutely adore the flavours. Perhaps I'll post a recipe once I've gone through all the NYC posts!

  8. It does sound like a great trip. Congratulations to your son's team for winning! I'm sure he was thrilled. Your trip home does sound like a drive full of constant laughter! Oh - from the mouths of babes! Sounds like your son should become a scientist. :) Beautiful salad and SO very fresh with the mint and fruit. Definitely will have to give this a try!

  9. Ah, those questions are GREAT!! I'm glad your had a nice little roadtrip! I can honestly say that I have never thought of using amaretto in a dressing but Kelly, this salad looks life-changing.

  10. Laura @ Sprint 2 the TableMay 30, 2012 at 11:57 AM

    That skunk smell is the worst part of any road trip. *shudder*

    I love the dressing you came up with here! That almond flavor must be incredible with the strawberries. I'm off to the liqueur store today! :)

  11. Aw, how nice that you got to spend so much time together with your son! He must be very people ask lots of questions and are constantly learning new things ;)

    This quinoa sounds like a wonderful way to use the awesome strawberries in the market now.

  12. A beautiful and healthy summer salad.

  13. The amaretto sound like a great splash to this dish!

  14. This is gorgeous! What an original and creative idea. Plus...I LOVE amaretto! Amazing.

  15. It sounds delicious Kelly. I always love coming here because the recipes are healthy and simple yet you never forget the flavor!

  16. Your son is VERY smart with all kinds of questions he asked. With a long drive, you are stuck in one place so all the unusual things (like asking questions) could happen while when you are busy you wouldn't. Well, my kids are crazy active and noisy and chatty right now (6 and 4) so I am terrified with a long road trip. LOL. What a beautiful scenery and I need to get away to somewhere like that. That would be a real nice treat. And the recipe! Very delicious summer-like salad!

  17. Ah, sounds like me - I'm going to give the advice to my kid one day: "question everything". I love pondering things like this... why does fabric get darker when it's wet and so forth.

    Love the photos - looks like such a lovely, relaxing place to spend the weekend.

    Salad looks fab - what type of mint is that? The mint I have here right now is really thick... your leaves look beautiful and delicate!

  18. Wow. I don't know what is more beautiful...this salad, that countryside, or the quality time you got to spend with your son.

  19. Stephanie @ Eat. Drink. Love.May 31, 2012 at 11:48 PM

    Great photos! Glad he won!

    This salad looks so light and refreshing! Perfect to enjoy this summer!

  20. I love the questions your son asked! One of the best parts of being a parent is getting to relive childhood while you watch your kids and listen to the questions they ask. I also love this salad! What a unique way to prepare quinoa. I agree, this would totally impress guests for a summer get together!

  21. Thank you so much for your kind ad thoughtful note Kristy... it had me smiling ear to ear!!

  22. Sally, you are so right... I love having a catalogue of happenings and blessings... these are such precious times and thank you for sharing them with me - xo.

  23. Haha! I've certainly heard my share of those sorts of comments earlier in my sons lives... ;-)

  24. haha, what a great story! Thanks for sharing Eva :)

  25. haha, come to think of it, I think my cat mocks me too! :)

  26. The questions never seem to end and they always make me smile - sometimes crack up! Have a great weekend MJ.

  27. Life-changing. Wow... I like... :) Thanks KoKo!!

  28. I love amaretto and I find it works really well here with the fruit... yum! (too bad it's 8 am ;-)

  29. Funny enough, we don't really hit our strawberry stride until July here in Canada but we are surrounded by beautiful US berries... :)

  30. I'm so glad you enjoyed this recipe Elly... amaretto is one of my favourite liqueur flavours too!

  31. You're so right... stuck in one place to unravel all of life's wonderful mysteries... it was a great roadtrip. I remember those earlier days and I get it on the terrified front ;-0 - ah, but it all goes by so quickly... enjoy Nami!

  32. I could absolutely see you at this age Charles, asking away... a true questioner by nature. And that's a good thing :)

  33. What a beautiful comment. Thank you Eliot.

  34. I agree, reliving and mostly learning for me. So much to learn from our children; they teach me every day. Thanks Alyssa. I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

  35. Your salad is just gorgeous and I love all the pictures :-)

  36. It's such an amazing combination! Once more you surprise me with your imagination. I wonder if I would have it as a main course or dessert... With some dishes the difference is tiny.
    It sounds like you have had a lovely weekend and a wonderful ride home. I always find being for a long time in a car with close family or friends very enriching.

  37. Lisa {Smart Food and Fit}June 2, 2012 at 6:48 AM

    You gotta love boys! Good to know the questions keep coming! All three of my boys ask the strangest questions too, but love it! Congrats on your son's soccer win, how exciting!. Looks like a fantastic road trip with the beautiful scenery!
    I have all the ingredients to make this salad, can't wait to try it! Yum!

  38. Amaretto dressing? I'm in love!! Great salad.

  39. I'm in love with this salad! Fresh mint, strawberries, and quinoa are all in my kitchen right now!!

  40. looks so easy to prepare and delicious…mouthwatering!

  41. i love the amaretto yogurt dressing here! quinoa is one of my favorites hehe.

  42. What a beautiful salad. Simple but elegant. The pictures are fantastic. I have two big boys now and your road trip reminds me of the adventures with my boys...

  43. What a fun road trip...boys are fun for sure :) I am in love with this salad, wow! The dressing alone sounds amazing!


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