Simone's Kitchen

Styling in the remake – Quinoa salad


I’ve had it for a while now… That nagging feeling when it comes to my styling skills… I’m not a stylist by any means and while it would be lovely to have my food styled by either Alexandra or Caroline every day, in real life that is just not an option and I have to do it mysef ofcourse.

And I learned quite a bit over the years. Mostly by doing it a lot and by looking at the work of people I admire such as Meeta or Peter of Souvlaki voor de soul. Totally different in style from me but you can learn lot from someone elses work by looking at it and not necessarily by copying their style. That is not what this is about. But looking at other people’s work you get a sense of how they play with props, placement of cutlery, texture of backgrounds and such.

But lately I feel like I’m just repeating the same trick over and over. It is therefore time for a change, something new. A change in style or at least a variation. And that is not so simple really. So it seemed a fun experiment to make 1 dish and style it in two different ways. Once in my usual way and one completely different. For the other style I got inspired while browsing through the most recent edition of Donna Hay magazine. And no I am not talking about the clean style she is know and loved for, because Donna has more sides too. And you can clearly see that in the magazine more than in the books. Which makes sense as that is not only worked on by miss Donna but by an entire team with stylists and photographers. So Donna it is.


The photo you see above is kind of my ‘standard’ style. Not too much fuss, light and bright, salad, some cutlery and done. Nothing wrong with that but I wanted something else. I think part of the problem is that I don’t take enough time to think about it. And the fact that I did think about it this time already made a difference.

And while we’re at it; below you can see what the salad looked like before styling it. I always take the various components with me into the studio or whereever it is I am taking the photo. The dressing for the salad is a mustard dressing (in the red bowl) and you don’t want to go and stir it all through straight away because it will not look very charming. The cashews are already in the salad but I brought some extra in case I wanted to use them as decoration (I didn’t except for snacking on it) and the thyme is for decoration. In the blue bowl are the pieces of apple that are still to be added to the salad.


The photos in Donna’s Magazine all had a bit of a kitchen feel with things in the background that told a story so I tried to replicate that feeling a bit. Did I succeed entirely? It’s ok but I kind of feel it is lacking something. Regardless of looks, the salad itself was delicious. I had seen a salad like this in the Green Kitchen book and I changed it a bit around to suit my needs and wishes.


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Quinoa salad with sausages
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
15 hrs 51 mins
Course: Salad
Servings: 2
Author: Simone van den Berg
  • 150 gr red quinoa
  • handfull of mixed cherry tomatoes
  • handfull of chopped cashewnuts unsalted
  • 2 stock cubes
  • 1 apple chopped
  • 200 gr small beef sausages
  • few dried apricots in pieces
  • 3-4 sundried tomatoes in oil in pieces
  • Small can of canellini beans rinsed and drained
  • pepper
  • salt
  • few radishes in slices
  • fresh thyme a few twigs, leaves only
  • 75 ml olive oil
  • 3 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • bit of honey
  1. Cook the quinoa according to package instructions with two stock cubes (making sure you have at least 1 ltr of water) and leave to cool.
  2. Cut the cherry tomatoes in quarters or halves (depending on size) and cut and prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Put everything together in a large bowl and shake it up
  4. Prepare the dressing by mixing the ingedients together and stir this well until it becomes one.
  5. Because of the dijon mustard it is a spicy dressing so if you don't like that use a milder mustard
  6. Add some of the dressing to the salad and serve

And for easy comparison I have the two styles side by side below! Let me know your thoughts!



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  1. What a fabulous idea to challenge oneself! But I guess you already knew that I would love this idea 🙂 And what I really love about your results is that you even used the same dishes and cutlery but still the images look so different and I just love them both!
    Hugs, Eva

  2. Beautiful salad, pictures and styling! I wish I had better stylling skills (I try my best). It is an art in itself and it demands a lot of work…



  3. What the hell are you talking about, Simone? That first picture is absolutely brilliant! I stared at it for at least 5 long minutes, in total awe and admiration before I even started to read your post. And then I spotted the 3rd pic. Beauty! Got stuck for another 5 minutes…

    I think you have amazing styling skills, my friend. I wish I had only half of them…

    • Ooo thanks so much Sonia! I guess I still feel that styling is my weak point even though I can see I have improved over the years but I do lack a bit of confidence in that area definitely. I even sometimes wonder if I have my own style ( people tell me I do so I guess I do…)

  4. I took a class with Peter G two years ago in Adelaide. What a wonderful man he is. So down to earth, friendly and helpful.

    I think your photos are brilliant. They aren’t Donna Hay, they aren’t the delightful Meeta nor are they moody like Peter’s. They are you – you do have your own style and I love it.

  5. I have never had the opportunity to take a class, so I would love to. Both of the photos are wonderful really, they each tell a bit of a different story, but your salad so bright in both. I love your style 🙂

  6. Ditto on Maureen’s comment to you!
    The first photo, I could NEVER do. It held me – and I came back to it a few times.

  7. You actually have a pretty distinctive style, IMO. One that’s pretty good. It’s fun to play with other ideas, of course, and I don’t do that nearly often enough. And your “kitchen” photo looks great! But I really prefer your “normal” style.

    • Thanks so much John. I guess it’s hard to say from yourself that you have a certain style really. Other people apparently see that better than I do! Glad to hear your prefer my regular style though!

  8. I totally love your style Simone. It’s clean and fresh – but I can understand the feeling of getting stuck in a rut. I think I should assign the challenge too. When I return from the Venice workshop I think I will give it a go. Should be gun. I really like the new remake of the image too. Cool stuff!

  9. I love both pictures because they tell different stories and you know that I know what you mean when it comes to getting stuck in a rut 😉 But I have to admit I prefer your style, in my eyes it is unique and speaks for itself. But anyway, we should practice and I would love to join you the next time.

  10. I love your style, which is totally expressed in the first photo (beautiful!). It works really well and it’s in your “comfort zone”, your tried and tested method of taking lovely photos. The second one is gorgeous too, but perhaps you find it lacking because it’s outside that zone! I imagine every style needs time and practice, so switching to something new might feel wrong in the beginning. I’m saying all this hypothetically, as I am still somewhere in my food photographer infancy 🙂 Great post!

  11. You read my thoughts 😉
    I was having that feeling lately : that same old same old feeling… 🙁
    …need to challenge myself too.

    I love looking at your photos, always bright and cheery n neat 🙂

  12. How fun to explore the different props and backgrounds. All your photos are beautiful. I do love the photo with the pan hanging, there is a homey feel to the photo! Your recipe sounds delicious! Hugs, Terra

  13. Really interesting walk through of your processes Simone, and I too love the 1st & 3rd images especially.
    I so wish I could shadow you at work for a few days, I would love to soak up some of the snippets of wisdom you’ve gleaned over the years 🙂
    Janie x

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