Over the holidays I traveled to Sydney, Australia with my family. The initial reason for traveling there was a family wedding, which also became a family reunion- we had 4 generations of family members congregate from different parts of the US, London, Canada, South Africa, Israel, Singapore, Hong Kong, and all over Australia.
Staying in a house within walking distance to Bondi Beach gave us the opportunity to easily take advantage of this world famous attraction. We started many of our days with the Bondi to Bronte walk, a 6 km path along the cliffs from Bondi Beach to Bronte. Each new step presented a view more breathtaking than the last and we had to consciously refrain from constantly taking pictures. I kept reminding myself to take it all in, it all being too beautiful to even seem real.
Walking up from the beach, the streets are lined with one cafe and restaurant after the next, with juice bars, gyms, bathing suit shops, and boutiques in between. My sister and I were looking for an afternoon coffee (tea for me) when we stumbled into a bookstore called Gertrude and Alice. A step into the shop felt like entrance into another world. Time felt slower, softer, and more dream-like… surrounded by cookbooks, classics, magazines, and mystical texts, it was a place I could see myself getting lost in for hours. We resisted temptation and stuck to our plan of tea and coffee, mentally bookmarking the spot for a return visit.
A couple days later, we bumped into my aunt on our way to eat lunch, and she suggested we try a quinoa salad she had just eaten. At first, quinoa did not sound so appealing since I had eaten so much of it while there, but she insisted it was worth getting anyway. When she told us it was from Gertrude and Alice we were also happy to have an excuse to return. We decided to share the Grilled Halloumi salad my aunt had recommended, minus the halloumi, for which the chef had offered to substitute in avocado. Being the small cafe it was, we eagerly watched as the chef assembled the salad behind the counter, warming the vegetables on a small griddle. When we were handed our salad we immediately regretted not each getting our own. The salad was an immediate success; Red quinoa, mixed greens, and warm roasted butternut squash, grilled onions and tomatoes, topped with sprouts and fresh slices of avocado. I had almost forgotten about red quinoa, since white is more commonly served and what I make myself, but the red variety is firmer, chewier, nuttier, and so different it almost seems unrelated to white quinoa. It also held up well with the warm vegetables. Before we had even finished the salad we agreed we would have to come back for our own before the trip was over.
On our last day in Sydney, we made sure to have a final lunch at Gertrude and Alice, each ordering a Grilled Halloumi salad, minus the halloumi. I made special note of exactly what was in the salad, planning to replicate it when I was back in my own kitchen.
Being back home less than a week and still suffering jet-lag, this salad seemed like the most appropriate way to deal with my post-vacation blues. I roasted the vegetables first, since the butternut would take the longest, and then cooked the quinoa. The tomato only needs to be in the oven for about 10 minutes, enough to soften and warm, but it should still hold its shape. Since the onions and tomato take less time than the butternut, I warmed them again in a pan on the stove right before assembling the salad. I also brewed a berry tea similar to the one I had enjoyed in the Bondi cafe, having it warm not iced since I was now back in the cold winter.
Sitting at my table I sadly couldn’t replicate the view and company I had cherished in Australia, however, this salad was truly delicious, and the perfect meal to enjoy while reflecting and reminiscing on my incredible, one of a kind, vacation.
Warm Vegetable Quinoa Salad
Inspired by the restaurant: Gertrude and Alice, Sydney, Australia
1 cup Red Quinoa
1 cup Butternut Squash, peeled and cubed
1 Tomato, any variety
5-6 Shallots, peeled and cut in half
About 2 Tablespoons Coconut or Olive oil
Course Sea Salt
4 cups Mixed Greens
1/2 cup Sprouts
1/2 an Avocado
2 tablespoons Lemon Juice (about 1 lemon)
3 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
Pinch of each Salt and Pepper
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 375′ F. Place cubed butternut on baking sheet and cover with 1 tablespoon of oil and a sprinkle of salt. Bake for 45 minutes, or until squash is tender and slightly browned.
Line a second sheet with parchment paper. Cut the tomato and shallots in half and place on baking sheet. Cover with oil and salt and bake for 10 minutes. Remove tomatoes and roast onions for an additional 15 minutes.
While the vegetables are cooking, prepare the quinoa. Rinse quinoa and place in a medium saucepan with 1-1/2 cups of water and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil then turn down heat to simmer until most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 15-20 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
Combine all dressing ingredients in a jar and shake.
Place quinoa and mixed greens in a large bowl. Mix with dressing and transfer to a serving dish. Layer roasted vegetables and sprouts, and top with sliced avocado.