Quinoa Salad with Balsamic Roasted Veggies celebrates the natural sweetness of veggies roasted with balsamic vinegar. It’s fresh and filling — perfect for lunches.
As my son set out for the school bus on Thursday, the darkness swallowed him. Here in Maine, our days grow slimmer and slimmer. Nighttime takes over. And that means that the bus to high school is caught before the sun rises.
Of course, we set our clocks back today, giving a little more light to the morning hours — for a time anyway. But in doing so, we’re also plunging ourselves into darkness earlier each day, putting an end to evening walks until springtime.
By the time the winter solstice rolls around, we’ll have fewer than 9 hours of daylight (actually about 8 hours and 47 minutes worth). In other words, nearly 2/3 of the day will be in darkness.
Sure, Maine is cold. We have harsh winters and often get lots of snow. But the lack of sunlight in winter is probably the hardest part of living here. You can bundle up against cold and shovel your way out of snowstorms. But darkness is pervasive. Lights alone cannot drive away how the lack of vitamin D impacts bodies and minds.
(Yes, vitamins and sunlamps can help.)
Eating well becomes doubly important during the dark days of late autumn and winter. It’s easy to choose fresh produce in the summertime when farmers markets brim with colorful arrays of veggies and fruits. But at this time of year, there’s less that’s fresh, less that’s being sold just plucked from the ground. And warm, so-called comfort foods are so inviting.
But comfort food can be anything you want it to be. It doesn’t have to be thick mashed potatoes laden with gravy or bubbling, creamy macaroni and cheese. It could be something fresh and bold, flavorful and warm … like this Quinoa Salad with Balsamic Roasted Veggies. Fresh vegetables are comfort food to me because they remind me of summer days, farmers markets and the freedom that comes with the break between school grades.
So for me, comfort food can be something like this bold salad with loads of veggies. Why not?
Making Quinoa Salad with Balsamic Roasted Veggies
Quinoa Salad with Balsamic Roasted Veggies begins with warm, tender roasted vegetables. Beets, sweet potato, carrots, onions … they are divine together. And drizzled with balsamic vinegar at the end of the roasting time really adds to the flavor.
Warm, perfect cooked fluffy quinoa is part of it too. I love quinoa — it’s so versatile and takes on whatever flavors you want it to.
Mix up that quinoa with the veggies. Mmm. And don’t forget to take a taste! Season with a bit of salt and pepper, if needed.
And then serve. This dish is a delight hot or cold.
Maybe this could be your new comfort food? What is comfort food to you?
This is an excellent dish to make ahead for lunches during the week too. Whip up a batch and enjoy it as your midday meal again and again.
- 2 large beets, small diced (about 3 cups)
- 1 small sweet potato, small diced (about ½ cup)
- 3-5 carrots, small diced (about 1 cup)
- 2-3 small onions, small diced (about 1 cup
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- ½ cup dried quinoa, thoroughly rinsed
- 1 cup water
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Add the beets, sweet potato, carrots and onions. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir well. Roast for 35-40 minutes, stirring a few times, until tender. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and roast for an additional 10 minutes.
- In a small saucepan, combine the quinoa and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until all the water is absorbed. Remove from heat.
- In a mixing bowl, stir together the roasted vegetables and quinoa. Taste, and season as desired with salt and pepper.
- Serve hot or cold, with an additional drizzle of balsamic vinegar, if desired.
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. She is the author of several cookbooks including The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook and One-Pot Pasta, both from Rockridge Press. 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.