Plump summer cherries are the highlight of this hearty salad that celebrates the height of summer and the end of the cherry season. Sweet cherries contrast with salty feta, and pair perfectly with puy lentils, quinoa, toasted almonds and spinach for a vegetarian dish sure to please all palates.
Seeking balance can be hard. Adjusting your sails is necessary on a daily basis to counter the winds that seek to knock you off your middle path. Sometimes I feel like I am balancing on a high wire trying to keep it all together and not lose my footing and plummet to the depths below. Some days I win, some days I lose. And down I fall, down, down, down into the depths from which escape is a hard climb up slippery walls. As I’m climbing I fall again, and wail, and cry out in the darkness, but I keep climbing towards the light. And there, just when hope seems lost, someone throws me a rope. I climb, and they pull, and then out I come into a sunset so beautiful I wonder whether this is why our eyes were created.
We’re all on a journey, and sometimes balance is hard. Balance between work and life, balance between rest and activity, balance between inner pressures and a happier outer world, balance between healthy choices and indulgent bites. This salad is here to help you with balancing those last two.
Cherry season is fast approaching the end, but before we bid farewell to this dark temptress of stone fruits, we must celebrate its beauty one more time. Here, the cherries are merely stoned and halved, and then combined with basic store cupboard ingredients to ensure that the natural beauty of fresh fruit shines through. Hearty lentils and quinoa are cooked (together, to save time) and allowed to cool before being tossed with baby spinach, and topped with roasted almonds and crumbled, savoury feta. A simple dressing completes the dish. When you take a bite of sweet cherry flesh, salty feta, and crunchy roasted almond you will taste the halcyon days of summer when all is still, spare the breeze, and balance is oh so easy to find.
Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Serves 4 generously | Leftovers will keep refrigerated in an airtight container for up to three days
Note: to roast almonds preheat oven to 180C (350F) and spread almonds on a baking sheet. Cook for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely before proceeding.
- 3/4 cup dried Puy (French) lentils
- 3/4 cup quinoa
- 3 cups salt-reduced vegetable stock
- 4 cups baby spinach leaves
- 1 1/2 cups cherries, pitted and halved (I use this method)
- 60 grams feta, crumbled
- 1/3 cup almonds, toasted, chopped
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon raspberry jam
- Generous pinch salt and black pepper
- Rinse lentils and quinoa well, and then place in a medium saucepan with the vegetable stock over a medium-high heat. Bring to the boil and allow to boil for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low, place a lid on top and simmer without stirring for a further 15-20 minutes or until lentils and quinoa are firm to the bite, but cooked. Allow to sit for 5 minutes before stirring with a fork. Place in a large bowl and cool to room temperature.
- While quinoa and lentils are cooling, make dressing: place olive oil, balsamic vinegar, jam, salt and pepper in a small bowl and whisk until combined. Set aside until required.
- Once quinoa and lentil are cool add spinach leaves, cherries, and dressing and toss well to combine.
- Place in bowls and sprinkle over crumbled feta and chopped almonds.