Ripe tomatoes, stone fruits and squash are in abundance mid- to late-summer
Tomatoes and plums are at their sweetest and make a constant colorful temptation. I wanted to make a Meatless Monday salad plate that would build on that by combining late summer fruits, include a quinoa-based salad to add complete protein, and some green salad to complement the plate.
The first salad therefore uses tomatoes, plums, red onions and radishes to add crunchiness. Here I used early girl dry farmed tomatoes, an amazingly sweet and flavorful type. The preparation is very simple for speed: cut all fruits into half moons (hence I like to call this salad “half moons” salad) and mix with olive oil, a couple of table spoons (or more to your taste) good quality balsamic vinegar, fresh basil, salt and pepper. Prepare this salad a bit in advance if you can so the fruits render some juices and all the flavors have time to combine.
The second salad, which I called “greened quinoa salad”, uses cooked quinoa (from 2 ½ cups of dry quinoa for 8-10 servings), 1 medium cucumber deseeded and cut into small pieces, 1 avocado, cut into small cubes, pistachios (roasted or not), chiseled parsley, mint (1/4 to ½ cup of each). For the dressing, I combined about 4-6 tbsp olive oil, the juice of 1 small to medium lemon, 1 tbps of apple cider vinegar, a dash of cumin powder, a little sweetener (honey if you like it and no more than 1 tbsp) salt and pepper. Just mix everything really well, adjust the oil or and seasoning as need be (i.e. add more if necessary), and again if you can leave the salad 1 hour in the fridge, the better.
Finally, for the green salad, I got a fresh, good quality lolla rossa, triple washed it and thinly sliced a couple of yellow summer squashes with a mandolin. For green salads, the dressing is key, and I am quite partial to a nice shallot and garlic vinaigrette, a French classic with vegetable oil (I mostly use olive oil), red whine vinegar, said shallot and garlic finely sliced, and salt and pepper. A little mustard can go in for emulsification if desired. If I am rigorously watching my FODMAP intake, garlic infused olive oil does the trick.
I love this plate as the salads are great and delish individually and can be re-used for any occasion, and at the same time, they combine well. I am not too concerned about left-overs with the half-moon salad since it is truly more-ish. But if you find yourself with too much of the green quinoa salad, cook an assortment of summer squashes in your stock of choice, throw in the left over salad and blend for a nice soup (which you can freeze for lazy or busy days).
Enjoy the summer produce while they last!
By the way:
- You can play with the tomatoes and plum varieties but whatever the choice of those, the combination is divine!
- You can pan fry or toast some gluten-free bread and add to the half-moons salad to make a play on panzanella, as on the picture of the salad plate.
- The colorful plum display featured at the top of this post are from the NYC Greenmarket at Columbia University (Samascott Orchards) and the sunbathed Santorini tomatoes from the Berkeley Farmers Market (La Tercera).
- All these salads are gluten- and dairy-free.