I’m always on the hunt for a substantial dinner salad – something that will fill up an adult until breakfast. As my husband loses weight, I seem to be finding it, so there’s necessity behind the quest right now. It’s not so much that I burn to be thin; I just don’t want to shop for more clothes. The pressure for women to be slender and perfect is so overbearing in our culture that I wanted to cheer when I read this headline in Us Weekly the other day: Candice Bergen: “I am fat,” and “I don’t care.” Hurray and blessings to Candice Bergan for saying that publicly!
Further, this great American actress and beauty said, “It’s a privilege to get old… The reality is that I don’t look like I used to look. I just don’t care enough, and in a way it’s saved me.”
You know what else I bet Candice Bergen is? Happy.
I think if we’re lucky, the obsession with personal appearance recedes as we come to value different things over time. So much in modern life pushes us toward self-absorption, but does it really matter if you fit into your prom dress thirty years later? No judgment if that’s what you want to do, but for me, paying attention to my weight relates to good health more than good looks.
I want to enjoy life and embrace who I am (except for that part of me that wants to eat an entire pint of frozen yogurt in one sitting.) Moderation, and enough exercise to keep my joints loose, is what I strive for: to enjoy food, and the graceful aging process, without going overboard. It’s about balance, and dishes like these remind me of how easy and rewarding it is to eat healthfully, which gets us back to the subject at hand – a great, substantial salad.
It tastes good and it feels good to eat this salad because it’s filled with flavor and so many different textures. I had this salad recently at Aubaine, a casual French restaurant in London, took notes and a photo, and reverse engineered it for you. The quinoa, seeds, and nuts give the salad some heft – you won’t be looking for something else to eat an hour later – and the beets and squash add sweetness. If you really wanted to boost the protein in this salad, grilled salmon would be a nice addition. In the meantime, be happy!
Prep time: 20 minutes to assemble, 20 minutes to cook the beets and squash
- 2 cups quinoa, cooked
- 5 ounces mixed greens
- (I used baby spinach, red leaf lettuce and arugula)
- 2 ounces alfalfa sprouts
- 1 cup roasted beets, cut into ¼-inch sizes
- 1 cup roasted butternut squash
- 1 cup fresh peas
- 3 tablespoons roasted pumpkin seeds
- 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
- 1 tablespoon flax seeds
To cook quinoa:
- Take 2/3 cup of quinoa and rinse well in a mesh strainer to remove the natural coating.
- Bring 1 and 1/3 cups water to boil in a lidded pan, and add a pinch of salt. Add quinoa, lower temperature to medium-low and cook, covered, for 12 minutes. Remove from heat and place paper towel between the pot and the lid, and allow to sit for five minutes before using, to allow quinoa to plump.
- To roast beets: Roast one medium-sized beet, chopped, in 375 degree oven for 20 minutes.
- To roast butternut squash: Roast chopped squash in 375 degree oven for 20 minutes. Reserve leftover squash for side dish, if desired. (I roasted both the beets and the squash in the same baking pan, separated by a piece of foil.)
- Mix ingredients together and drizzle lightly with a simple vinaigrette dressing before serving. You will want to use less salad dressing than you normally would; there is so much flavor and texture in the salad that it just needs enough dressing to bind the ingredients together a bit.
Simple Vinaigrette Dressing:
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- salt and fresh pepper