Quinoa with Caramelized Tomato and Arugula

2pm, Sat 3rd August – Montauk, NY

We ate, we biked, we packed our bags for an afternoon at the beach – books, ipods, ipads, and sunscreen. But as we descended onto the beach, we were stopped with a jarring explosion of color and sound. More blue umbrellas, pink chairs and yellow towels than the Cote D’Azur in mid-August. Hot dogs, corn on the cob, cola and a loud speaker with a discordant voice incessantly chatting about a raffle ticket.  This was not what we were envisioning for a lazy Saturday afternoon.

I threw my scarf over my face to block out the cacophony of colors and took frequent deep swims to drown out the noise. But it was the beach conversation that did me in – portfolios, to drunken nights, to kids potty training to politics. A mis-mash of conversation from a mis-mash of rowdy beach-goers. Back on our bikes and back to the beach shack.  We would return at 9pm for a beach picnic instead.

What a brilliant idea. The beach was deserted and lit by an almost full moon. It looked like a scene from a black and white movie. All I needed was Cary Grant to emerge from the ocean…and for me to transform into Grace Kelly. But our picnic basket was full just in case we needed to seduce Mr Grant.

We packed (and made) quinoa with caramelized tomato and arugula, eggs stuffed with shrimp, grilled avocado and corn salad, rhubarb pie, chilled rose and lemongrass infused ginger-beer.

Mr Grant never showed up, but the food, laughter and sultry night made up for it. Below is the recipe for the quinoa and caramelized tomato and arugula salad.

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  • 2 cups of quinoa, cooked
  • 2 tbl EVOO
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 lemon rind, grated
  • ½ Spanish onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 2 punnets of large vine-ripened cherry tomatoes
  • 1 bunch of arugula
  • 1/3 cup basil leaves, shredded


1.  Transfer quinoa to a large bowl, add 1 tbl of EVOO, lemon juice and rind, onion and garlic. Season to taste and refrigerate, stirring occasionally until chilled.

2.  Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375F. Scatter tomatoes on an oven tray, drizzle with remaining oil and roast until caramelised (10-15 minutes). Cool, then combine in a large bowl with remaining ingredients, toss to combine and serve cold.