quinoa, fresh fava bean and avocado salad

quinoa, fresh fava bean and avocado salad

I’ve adapted this light and protein-rich salad from Plenty by Yotam Ottelenghi. It is flavorful and perfect for a barbeque party. You will enchant all your guests with this one, whether they’re vegan, vegetarian, or more omnivorous. The dish combines ingredients from both new and old worlds to become a beautiful international delight, just the way we like it 😉

quinoa, fresh fava bean and avocado salad

½ cup red quinoa
½ cup white quinoa
2 ripe Hass avocados
1½ cups fresh fava beans, from about 2 lbs fava pods
8 fresh multicolor oblong French radishes, quartered
1 cup frisée escarole, cleaned, cut into bite size pieces
Juice of 2 lemons
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 garlic clove crushed
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Aleppo pepper chili flakes
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Add both red and white quinoa to a sauce pan, top with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce temperature to medium and cook until soft and little seeds have partially burst. Drain, rinse and let cool down to room temperature in a strainer.

Using a sharp paring knife cut a tiny strip off the stringy part of the fava pod lengthways, pop beans out of their velvety pod. Repeat process for remaining pods. Add beans to a pot with boiling water and cook for about 3 minutes. Drain, shock beans with cold water, let them cool down. Remove outer membrane from around each bean, being careful not to crush them.

Cut avocados in halves, remove large seeds. Slice into wedges, transfer to bowl and sprinkle with some lemon juice to prevent oxidation. Set aside.

In a small bowl, mix garlic, salt, peppers, remainder of the lemon juice, cumin and olive oil.

Transfer quinoa, fava, radish and frisée to a serving dish, pour dressing over everything and toss to combine. Adjust flavors if necessary. Gently fold in avocado wedges.  Garnish with some crisp lettuce leaves.


Delfina is my favorite restaurant in San Francisco. I really love other places, like The Slanted Door and Gary Danko, but to me Delfina reigns supreme. They make Italian food with a California influence, or perhaps it’s vice-versa? We’ve been going there for years now to celebrate special occasions. The reason we enjoy Delfina sparingly is not because of the price as it’s affordable. Rather, it’s because it’s small and very popular. Thus you need a reservation well in advance unless you’re willing to wait interminably. And it’s only for special occasions that we ever get around to planning things. I keep wishing that they’d expand their business so it would be easy and convenient to get in last minute. But at the same time perhaps it’s better this way: small and of consistently high quality. Well enough free advertisement for Delfina!

warm white bean frisée salad with grilled calamari

Last week, I was channeling Delfina and decided to try reproducing what for me is one of their signature dishes: warm bean salad and frisée topped with grilled baby calamari. I love the creamy texture, the earthy flavor of the beans, the tanginess/bitterness of the greens and the yummy umami flavor of the grilled baby squid. The restaurant serves this as an appetizer, but at home I made it into an entrée. I’ve no idea what their recipe is so I improvised. Nevertheless, it turned out marvelously!

warm white bean frisée salad with grilled calamari

1 cup great northern beans, picked over then soaked in water for 3 hours
8 baby calamari and tentacles, cleaned and drained
3 pressed cloves fresh garlic
Juice of 1 lemon
Zest of half lemon
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of dried savory (less than 1/3 tsp)
Pinch of dried sage (less than 1/3 tsp)
4 tbsp olive oil plus more for finishing
½ head of frisée, cleaned and cut into bite size pieces
1tsp water
1 tsp sherry vinegar

Drain soaked beans then transfer to a pot and fill with water to about 1 inch above level of beans. Bring to a boil then reduce temperature to medium/low and simmer till soft but not mushy. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Add more water if needed.

Once beans reach the texture that you like, add salt, olive oil, 2 cloves of garlic, dried savory and sage. Continue to simmer. Transfer about 2 cups of beans to a bowl and blend with a stick blender (or in a food processor) for few seconds. Return blended beans to pot, and simmer on low heat.

Meanwhile, fire up the grill and bring temp to high (450F). Season your baby calamari with salt, a clove of crushed garlic, pepper, some lemon juice and zest. Grill baby calamari for no longer than 4 minutes total, two minutes on each side. Cooking it longer will make it rubbery.

To make the salad, mix frisée with salt, pepper, lemon juice, sherry vinegar, water, olive oil and toss with your hands to coat the leaves completely with dressing.

To assemble the dish, place salad in the center, add a ladle or two of bean around it followed by calamari on top. Drizzle a bit more of olive oil and another squirt of lemon and voilà!

Note: It did take time to make, but that’s part of the inventing process. Sun Fat had two types of fresh squid, clean ones from China and whole wild ones from the Monterrey Bay, near here. I decided to go local. The disadvantage is that I had to clean them. It is a bit gruesome, but now I know how so I’ll be mentally prepared for next time.


Japanese inspired "sea vegetable" salad

I prepared this Japanese inspired salad with home-cured gravlax and white rice. The gravlax had dill and was Swedish inspired. The “sea vegetable” salad was Japanese inspired. Despite being from two far distant culinary traditions, they seemed to match well together. Perhaps because they’re both “ocean foods?”

This salad is easy to make and would be just fine served alone, with rice, miso soup or fish.

Japanese inspired “sea vegetable” salad

½ head lettuce
½ head frisée
A few strands dry wakame sea vegetable
½ English cucumber, cut into thin slices
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 ½ tbsp rice vinegar
½ tsp sugar
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp black toasted sesame seeds
Togarashi(shichimi) dry pepper mix
Kosher salt

Boil 4 cups of water, remove from heat, add wakame and let it re-hydrate for about 10 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water. Cut into strips.

we use this brand of wakame

Slice cucumber thinly. Sprinkle with salt and let it sweat at room temperature for about half hour. Rinse it in plenty of cold water. Set aside.

Tear lettuce and frisée into bite size pieces and place them into a bowl. Add wakame, sesame oil, soy sauce, sugar, rice vinegar and toss with your hands. Taste and adjust flavors. Top with cucumber slices, black sesame seeds and a sprinkle of togarashi pepper mix. This salad has a delicious sea,sweet, tangy and smoky flavor.

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