Recipe: Inside-out salad

stuffedAt last!  An entry for the Vegetarian Lunchbox Challenge!  And it’s only taken me three weeks since I thought of this recipe to actually make it and write it up…

This recipe is inspired by all the beautiful tomatoes I’m getting from my garden at present.  Not big ones, alas – those I had to buy – but very colourful, sweet baby tomatoes in a lot of colours.  I thought it would be fun to do Tomato On Tomato – a whole festival of tomatoes inside a bigger tomato, but with a bit of extra protein.  Hence the quinoa.  And it was.  These are not, I fear, perfect – I think they really wanted a few toasted nuts or seeds in them for crunch, and I totally forgot that there’s this thing called seasoning – but they are lovely and cool and fresh in this endlessly hot weather.  I’d use this recipe as a template and then add your favourite salad goodies to it at the end.

(I will try to make some more sweet recipes soon, but the combination of very hot weather that makes baking undesirable, a broken food processor that makes a lot of my favourite un-baked sweets impossible, and the usual work-related exhaustion is not really conducive to inventing sweet delights…)

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1 cup quinoa
265 g assorted small tomatoes
1 bunch mint
1 bunch coriander
1 orange capsicum
1 roasted pepper
100 g feta cheese
juice of half a lime
8 large tomatoes
3 -4 large lebanese cucumbers

Now what will you do with it?

Put the quinoa in a small saucepan with 1 cup of water, and bring to the boil.  Cover, and simmer for about 5-8 minutes, or until most of the water is absorbed, the quinoa has unraveled into those pretty little coils, and there are a few holes forming at the top (as when you steam rice).  Drain and let cool.


Halve or quarter your teeny tiny tomatoes, depending on their size, and put into a large bowl.  Chop the mint, capsicum and coriander and add to the tomatoes with the quinoa and chopped roasted pepper.  Crumble in the feta, or chop it into small cubes, and stir in.  Mix everything together well and set aside.

Halve the cucumbers lengthways and scoop out the seeds to make a place for the quinoa salad.  Cut lids off the tomatoes and scoop out their innards.  Squeeze the innards well between your fingers to get out the juice and seeds, then chop them and add them to the salad.


Season the salad and add any other flavouring ingredients that appeal to you at this point – I’d suggest toasted pine-nuts or pepitas, and maybe some spring onion for crunch – then stir in the lime juice and, if you like, some olive oil, and mix everything very well.

Spoon the salad into the hollowed-out tomatoes and cucumbers (you could use capsicum as well, which would probably make more sense, now I think of it – crunch and a more useful size), and serve at once, or wrap in foil, refrigerate, and have for lunch tomorrow.  Feel very healthy indeed!



Where do I even start?  For one thing, you can just have this as an ordinary salad, of course, or you can use it to stuff capsicums, sweet chillis, fennel bulbs, or any other vegetable that can be hollowed out and tastes good raw.

You can replace the feta cheese with toasted nuts, seeds, chickpeas or all of the above (thus veganising the situation), or add any of these things as well as the feta.

You could replace the coriander with basil or parsley or whatever your tastebuds dictate.

You could take half of your little tomatoes and roast them briefly to make them sweeter – this is especially good if your little tomatoes are on the insipid side.

This lunch serves about 4 people, but it’s a reasonably light lunch.

This recipe is going into the Vegetarian Lunchbox Challenge, which is coming along beautifully!  Add your recipe today!


This time last year…

Market Day: High Summer masquerading as Autumn

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7 comments for “Recipe: Inside-out salad

  1. Iestyn
    February 17, 2013 at 10:58 pm

    I think this would go well as a substitute for Tabuli, anywhere that works well.

    • Catherine
      February 19, 2013 at 10:31 am

      It’s pretty much inspired by tabouli, yes.

  2. Tree_and_Leaf
    February 18, 2013 at 5:09 am

    Delicious! If only I could get Husband to eat raw tomatoes…

    • Catherine
      February 19, 2013 at 10:32 am

      Ah, that would be a problem, yes.

  3. February 18, 2013 at 7:37 pm

    This is gorgeous! Definitely worth the 3 week lead up 😉 It looks perfect for summer too.

    • Catherine
      February 19, 2013 at 10:32 am

      Thank you!

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