Travel Memories + Easy Summer Quinoa Salad

It’s become sort of a tradition for me while I travel to seek out restaurants that serve wholesome, healthy food. This all started when I was first transitioning to a vegetarian diet and becoming more mindful of what I consume. I happened to be traveling to San Francisco to run the Nike Woman’s marathon with my girlfriend while making this transition. Seeking out food that was nourishing became fun for me and helped me discover off the grid places I likely wouldn’t have otherwise happened upon. This isn’t of course to say I don’t indulge here and there while on vacation. I absolutely treat myself, but seeking out restaurants that serve healthy options helps me maintain a better balance and keeps me feeling better all around. (Needless to say, it’s definitely possible to eat healthy while traveling. I have even gone as far as packing a personal size blender and superfoods, and shopping locally for fresh produce to create delicious, wholesome breakfast smoothies to start my day.)

Last summer, my boyfriend took me to LA + area for our anniversary. I was excited when we found MAKE in Santa Monica, a restaurant by Matthew Kenney. Although MAKE appears to be now closed, Matthew Kenney has an amazing approach to healthy food and has an amazing array of delicious restaurants and even classes. I would love to visit every single one of them, they all look so amazing!


Dan was feeling hesitant when we first sat down and took a look at the menu in MAKE because it focused on primarily raw, vegan foods which isn’t exactly his thing and total deviates from his typical diet. It’s coincidental that the salad he ended up ordering upon server recommendation has become an easy go-to lunch or dinner in my repertoire. We liked it so much we actually ended up going back a second time before our trip was over.

Below is the recipe for my adaptation, inspired by Matthew Kenney Cuisine’s MAKE. There are of course several ways you could put your own twist on this salad, but for both simplicity and nostalgia sake I tend to stick with the original.

Despite the simplicity, this light, flavourful salad is perfect for something quick on warms days. Best yet, whenever I make it we’re reminded of our all the memories and our time in LA.


  • 1 cup cooked, cooled quinoa. (How to Make the Perfect Quinoa by Joy McCarthy)
  • 1/4 cup + a couple leaves extra of fresh basil, chopped finely
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1/2 fresh lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 – 1 bunch of lacinato kale (also known as black kale)



  1. Cook 1 cup quinoa and place in fridge to chill. SMsalad3
  2. Squeeze juice from half a lemon, mixing with 1/4 cup of chopped basil and mashed avocado. You want this as smooth as possible. I will often blend together these ingredients to get it as smooth as possible, but if you have a ripe enough avocado it will be easy enough to mash together to a smooth consistency.
  3. Remove the stems from the kale and chop finely. Massage a bit for more tender kale. SMsalad2
  4. Add avocado mixture, chopped kale and chilled quinoa. Mix together until everything is well incorporated and covered in the avocado mixture. Top with remaining chopped basil leaves. Depending on your preferences, you can add an extra squeeze of lemon if you want a little bit more zing.IMG_5143


SMsalad6Have you ever recreated a restaurant dish you tried and loved? Let me know below!


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