Roasted veggies combine with quinoa and a sesame soy dressing in this Asian Quinoa Salad with Sweet Potatoes, Parsnips and Arugula recipe.
A year ago this week, I was preparing to head north to Maine from Connecticut. While here, I had to both find a place to live and choose schools for my kids — two things I had been researching for weeks. The trip, which couldn’t really be planned until the last minute because of the nature of real estate, was weighing on me. So much had to happen while I was here, and there were so many big decisions to make. It could’ve been overwhelming.
Thank goodness for good friends on the other side of text messages. While I stressed, anxiously heading from appointment to appointment, my friends listened, offered advice and generally kept me sane. When most of the places I saw felt all wrong, they encouraged me to keep looking, and ultimately go with my gut. When the school visits left me in tears, they reminded me of what mattered most: finding the right learning atmosphere and curriculum for my kids. And once all the paperwork was signed and checks delivered, I think we all breathed a collective sigh of relief.
A year later, I am happy with my decisions.
My intention was to live in our little apartment for a year. But as the year mark has approached, I have found myself reluctant to move. Yes, we need more space. But moving this summer would be our third move in as many years, and would likely mean another change of schools for the kids. I really don’t want that.
And it doesn’t help that while our apartment doesn’t have as much space as I’d like, I do like it a lot. It’s cozy. And when the kids go to visit their dad on weekends, it doesn’t feel too massive for just one person.
That said, I know that we can’t live here forever. As the kids near their teenage years, we really need more room for desks and homework and privacy. But maybe we can make one more year work — I am willing to try.
In the meantime, we’ll enjoy our little first home in Maine, and everything our new hometown has to offer — including a restaurant scene that I’ve found more inspiring than I imagined it could be.
That includes the vegan salad and juice bar that opened in town a few months ago where I rediscovered just how much I love quinoa. After a tasting, and a few trips for lunch, I find myself thinking fondly of the salads there — particularly one that features quinoa, barbecued chickpeas, tomatoes, avocado, roasted carrots and sprouts. It’s both light and hearty, and the quinoa in it takes on the flavors of the salad well.
To be clear, this isn’t that salad. And while this one is inspired by it, they are pretty different.
This Asian Quinoa Salad with Sweet Potatoes, Parsnips and Arugula recipe combines tender, sweet roasted sweet potatoes, parsnips and shallots with quinoa and peppery baby arugula. It’s then tossed with a bold sesame soy dressing. You can dig into this hot or cold — it’s delicious both ways — and leftovers are perfect for lunches at school or work.
Ready in about 45 minutes, this is perfect for evenings, weekends or whenever. And it’s especially good for sharing with friends.
Asian Quinoa Salad with Sweet Potatoes, Parsnips and Arugula
- 1 large sweet potato , peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 2 lbs cubed parsnips (about 1/2-inch cubes)
- 3 shallots , roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup dry quinoa , prepared according to package directions
- 2 cups baby arugula
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- sesame seeds , for garnish (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with nonstick aluminum foil or spray with cooking oil spray.
- Spread the sweet potato cubes, parsnip cubes and shallots on the tray and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, and toss gently to combine. Roast for 15 minutes. Stir. Then roast for an additional 15-20 minutes, until tender and lightly browned. Remove from the oven and transfer the veggies to a large mixing bowl.
- Add the prepared quinoa to the mixing bowl along with the baby arugula. Toss well to combine.
- Meanwhile, in a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the rice vinegar, soy sauce, olive oil, honey, sesame oil and ground ginger until well-combined. Pour over the quinoa mixture and toss well. Garnish with sesame seeds, if desired. Serve immediately
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. Her latest cookbook is The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook, published by Rockridge Press, which focuses on quick, easy, from-scratch cooking for busy people. A single mother to two kids in middle school, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.