Tuesday, August 1, 2017

California Quinoa Salad with Mojito Dressing {Low-FODMAP}

California Quinoa Salad with Mojito Dressing {Low-FODMAP, Gluten-Free}  /  Delicious as it Looks

L.A. and Art

My husband and I don't travel much. Most of the time we think it's too much of a hassle and we are usually content to just stay in the comfort of our home. Every once in a while we venture out when we have the opportunity. We recently had the chance to fly out to Los Angeles. I haven't been to LA since I was 12 years old (so that makes it 30 years ago!) and my husband had never been to California before, so we were excited.

It's a very different life than here in Iowa. It was fun and exciting to Uber around the huge and busy city. We got to see the ocean and eat amazing food. The best part was visiting the J. Paul Getty Museum and seeing some of my favorite works of art in person. I was amazed and inspired by the paintings, sculptures, architecture and views. Truly, if you are going to LA, make sure you visit the Getty Museum. Here are some of the most memorable things from our visit. (All of the LA photos were taken with my iPhone.)

First off, the view was incredible. The Getty Museum is built on a hill and you have to take a tram up to get to it. Once you get up there, the views are amazing. It was a bit smoggy while we were there, but it was still breathtaking.

View of LA from J. Paul Getty Museum
View of LA from J. Paul Getty Museum

The architecture of the whole center is fantastic. So many layers and lines. I don't know much about architecture, but this place is really cool.

J. Paul Getty Museum
J. Paul Getty Museum

My absolute favorite was getting to see some of my favorite artists' paintings in person. I've always loved impressionism and was enthralled with the Monets and Van Goghs. Here are a few of my favorite paintings (arranged in a very un-artistic and haphazard collage):

Paintings at the J. Paul Getty Museum
Clockwise, from top left: Jeanne (Spring) by Manet; Portrait of Jeanne Kefer by Khnopff; La Promenade by Renoir; Irises by van Gogh; Wheatstacks, Snow Effect, Morning by Monet

Finally, the sculptures. There were a ton of sculptures that we didn't even get to because we were short on time, but I loved the ones were able to see.

Sculptures at the J. Paul Getty Museum
Bust of Pope Paul V by Bernini (left) and Christ and Mary Magdalene by Rodin (right)

Recipe Inspiration

One afternoon I had lunch at a very nice restaurant just a few blocks away from our hotel in West Beverly Hills: Skylight Gardens. It is a "Cal-Italian" restaurant, but I wanted something light and refreshing for lunch, so I went with a quinoa salad with mojito dressing and a lemony cucumber fizzy drink. They were so delicious, I decided to create my own quinoa salad to remind me of our trip. Here is what I came up with.

My lunch at Skylight Gardens

LA restaurants are big on the trendy foods right now, especially avocado and quinoa. As you can see, they gave me a whole half of an avocado, but I was only able to eat a few slices since I am sensitive to polyols. But I still wanted to incorporate the avocado in my salad creation, so I just scaled back the amount. If you can eat more avocado, go ahead and add more!

California Quinoa Salad with Mojito Dressing {Low-FODMAP, Gluten-Free}  /  Delicious as it Looks

I designed this as a side dish, but have been eating is as a main dish for lunch. I like to serve it on a bed of arugula (I'm obsessed with arugula right now) and top it off with some protein, like my baked tofu or some salmon or chicken. This salad is so refreshing! Every time I take a bite, I'm transported back to our visit in LA. What a perfect way to make a memory!

California Quinoa Salad with Mojito Dressing {Low-FODMAP, Gluten-Free}  /  Delicious as it Looks

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California Quinoa Salad with Mojito Dressing
Low-FODMAP, Gluten-Free, Vegetarian
serves 6 (serving size is about 1 1/3 cup)


1 1/2 cups water
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds)
1 medium cucumber, quartered lengthwise and sliced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved (I used golden, but red is fine)
1/2 firm, ripe avocado, chopped
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
4 scallions, thinly sliced (green part only)
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon fresh lime zest
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

  1. Bring the water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the quinoa and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, but keep covered. Let steam for 10 minutes. Spread quinoa out on a cookie sheet and let cool.
  2. Heat a dry, small skillet over medium-low heat and add pepitas. Cook and stir until pepitas are lightly toasted. Remove from skillet and let cool.
  3. When the quinoa and pepitas are cool, add to a large bowl. Gently toss in the cucumber, tomatoes, avocado, feta cheese, scallions and mint.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, red wine vinegar, Dijon, 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper and lime zest. Slowly whisk in the olive oil by pouring in a steady stream. Whisk until completely combined.
  5. Add dressing to the quinoa salad in the large bowl and toss gently to combine. Chill salad and serve.

Serving suggestion:
Serve atop a bed of arugula with Low-FODMAP Basic Marinated Baked Tofu.


  1. We loved this salad for dinner. Will definitely make it again - so fresh and seasonal. The lime and mint made it special. Thanks!

    1. So glad you liked it! Thanks for the comment. :)