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.