With the recent creation of the Halifax Food Bloggers Facebook page (which is awesome, by the way, see for yourself here) came the idea for a monthly challenge to all willing bloggers. This month, the goal was to create a post around the concept FRESH and it could be about anything the stomach desired. When I think of the term fresh, I think of warm summer evenings eating al fresco. Eating outside is one of my favourite things to do and I think it is something that people from the east coast (Newfoundland in particular) really cherish because we get very few opportunities to do it throughout the year. As soon as the weather is nice, the patios are built and people are eager to enjoy al fresco food in any form. Whenever I can, I pack up my meals and eat outside any chance I get, whether it be suffering through that first chilly April BBQ on your best friend’s patio, or those hot summer days drinking away an afternoon with beers and pub food.
When I think about al fresco dining, I can’t help but picture a long table with a white tablecloth centered in a piazza or terraced backyard in Italy. I imagine fantastic food made with the freshest ingredients, great wine, great conversation and perfect candlelit evenings. My love for Italian food and al fresco dining inspired me to create a variation on one of my favourite Italian salads, Caprese. By combining it with the ever popular Quinoa I aimed to make a fresh salad that can honour any al fresco table. My reinvention of this classic has been reconfigured many times over, but being the purist I am, I tried to stick with traditional Caprese ingredients, and, along with the quinoa, here is the Gabrese Salad:
Caprese Quinoa Salad
1 225g package of Quinoa (I used President’s Choice Organic, but any preferred brand will do!)
10-12 Cherry Tomatoes
12-15 Small/Medium-sized Bocconcini
5-7 Fresh Basil Leaves
Dash of Salt and Pepper
Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar to drizzle
1. Cook entire package of Quinoa as per instructions on the package, set aside in a large bowl to cool.
2. Slice Tomatoes in half.
3. Cut Bocconcini balls in half.
4. Dice Basil leaves.
5. Combine all ingredients into the large bowl of Quinoa.
6. Salt and pepper to taste.
7. Drizzle generously with EVOO and Balsamic.
This is a very easy salad to make, and a modern alternative to the more formal Insalata Caprese. Caprese salad is usually served on its own as a salad course, but with this salad reconfiguration you can eat it as a side! It is perfect for a BBQ or a great dish to bring to a potluck because all the ingredients are recognizable and enjoyed by most. Adam and I had our first Gabrese Salad with grilled steaks and it was delicious! I even had it for lunch the next day on its own, and it was more than satisfying. Please feel free to Explore. Eat. Repeat. the Gabrese Salad and enjoy those upcoming summer al fresco meals under the stars.