I recently moved to Juneau, AK to start my new career and the weather could not be more lovely. Sunny spring day after sunny spring day looking out at the mountains. So naturally the Avocado, Quinoa, and Fava Bean Salad (pg. 228), which Chef describes as a “simple salad for a spring brunch” seemed the perfect choice. I chose it for dinner, rather than brunch, but still it made the perfect light meal to create for my first Juneau post.
While Juneau is small, there are several large grocery stores and a very nice small organic market, so I did not think I would have trouble finding the ingredients for the salad. However, it took me going to 3 stores before I found the fava beans. And they were canned, meaning they were a brown color rather than the fresh light green in the picture from the cookbook. But I figured they would still do just fine. Another item I could not find was purple radish cress (or small purple basil leaves). The organic market did have purple basil seeds, but as I had planned on mixing the salad that evening, seeds were not going to work. So, I forewent the radish cress/purple basil, hoping they were more of a garnish…
I began by cooking the quinoa and the beans and then moved on to cutting and removing the skin and membranes of the lemons. Having done this before with oranges (and having a tough time!), I was concerned, but I had a much sharper (and newer) knife this time and found it surprisingly easy! Maybe it just takes some practice and a really sharp knife.
I only used one lemon, rather than the two the recipe called for, and I am glad I did because I found the salad very lemony. I then peeled, stoned, and cut the avocado and mixed it in with the lemons. Here was a mistake I made: the recipe says to “toss” the avocados and the lemons in the bowl. But my avocado slices were not separating and the lemon juice was splashing, so I used a wooden spoon to stir everything together. This helped and so I thought it would be fine, as long as I was gentle.
I added the rest of the ingredients and spices and stirred the salad, again not tossing it as was called for. This worked fine, but some of the avocados did break and my salad ended up looking a little mushier than Chef Ottolenghi’s. Regardless of the technique, the end result tasted great! It says salt and pepper to taste and, loving pepper, I did add quite a bit, which I thought made it even better. I gave this recipe 4 stars; it was delicious and light, but a bit too citrus-y for me. A very easy salad to make, though, excepting the part about finding purple radish cress 😉
My salad on the left, the picture from the cookbook (pg. 229) on the right.