Ahh, vacation. Re-entry can be tough. Vacation offers an intentional pause in everyday life that serves as a reminder to live life fully. After a trip, I do my best to reflect on what gave me joy in my travels, and how I can put a little bit of “vacation” into my daily routines of life. This quinoa and couscous salad with roasted vegetables is an example of that. One of my favorite vacation lunches included a variety of vegetable forward, light summer salads. So, I tried to recreate it to taste a little bit of vacation while at home.
To be honest, this quinoa and couscous salad includes a lot of chopping and time in roasting, so I sought out a short-cut by using the boxed Near East Couscous. My grocery store didn’t have the plain variety, so I used the mushroom and herb couscous and tossed out the seasoning packet. I also bought pre-cubed butternut squash. If you REALLY wanted a short cut, you could also look for pre-chopped red bell pepper on the grocery salad bar. And one more short-cut? Buy a store-bought vinaigrette in lieu of the olive oil and lemon juice. But, friend, fresh lemon juice really brightens this dish up, so if I were you, I would stick with that extra step of slicing a lemon.
One of the many things I love about this quinoa and couscous salad is that you can personalize it the flavors your palate prefers. For example:
- Roasted Veggies: Any roasted veggies would do! Eggplant, sweet potato, Brussels sprouts.
- Nuts: In lieu of almonds, you could go with chopped pistachios, walnuts or pine nuts.
- Dried fruit: Swap out dried cherries for currants, raisins or dried cranberries.
A Couple Other Vacation Take-Aways
In addition to recreating vacation recipes, the time away from routines (and children) reminded to:
- Drink morning coffee OUTSIDE. Starting my day in nature = lower stress.
- Carve out more time to sit and be still. Waves are an amazing teacher.
- Disrupt routines more often. Our rockstar sitter took the boys out for fun post camp activities. I’m more apt to rush home to make dinner, etc. As a parent, I love a good routine, but those aren’t the moments that make memories.
- Create more fun opportunities with my handsome hubby. Snorkeling beside my spouse and nurse sharks is hard to recreate at home, but a round of gin rummy before bed is do-able.
- Prioritize my people. I can get overwhelmed to please acquaintances or people I don’t even know, but this brief social media cleanse reminded me it’s family & close friends that deserve the majority of my bandwidth.
Vacation or no vacation, this quinoa and couscous salad is a light, fresh nourishing option that reminds us to savor the moments of summer.
Check out our Trader Joe’s Kale and Broccoli Salad McDaniel Short-Cut.
- 3 T. olive oil, divided (1 T. for roasted vegetables | 2 T. for lemon vinaigrette)
- 1, 10 oz. box Near East Couscous, plain
- 1 c. uncooked quinoa
- 3 c. water or broth, divided
- 1/2 medium to large onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 butternut squash, cut into small to medium cubes (about 2 cups)
- 2 small zucchini, cut into small to medium cubes (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1/2 c. sliced almonds
- 1/3 c. dried cherries
- 1 c. fresh parsley, chopped
- 1/4 c. fresh thyme, chopped
- 1/4 c. fresh lemon juice
- 1 t. salt
- 1/2 t. freshly ground pepper
- Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
- On a greased or aluminum foil covered sheet pan, toss garlic, onion, butternut squash and zucchini in 1 Tbsp. olive oil until all vegetables are lightly coated in olive oil.
- Roast for 15 minutes. Toss vegetables and roast for an additional 15 minutes or until vegetables are softened.
- While vegetables are roasting, cook 1 cup quinoa according to directions. You can either use water or vegetable broth for the cooking liquid.
- While vegetables are roasting, cook entire box (10 oz.) of couscous according to directions. You do not need the seasoning packet, if included.
Quinoa & Couscous Salad with Roasted Vegetables
- Combine roasted vegetables with cooked quinoa & couscous plus remaining ingredients (red bell pepper through freshly ground pepper).
- The lemon juice and 2 T. of olive oil should evenly coat the salad ingredients. Add a splash more of olive oil if necessary.
Cut butternut squash in slightly smaller pieces than your zucchini for even roasting time.
Buy pre-cut butternut squash for an additional short-cut.
- Serving Size: 1 serving
- Calories: 191
- Sugar: 4.2 g
- Sodium: 201 mg
- Fat: 6.5 g
- Saturated Fat: 0.8 g
- Carbohydrates: 29.2 g
- Fiber: 3.4 g
- Protein: 5.4 g
- Cholesterol: 0 mg