I try to put a lot of thought and (usually) effort into my daily meals. I hate to look back after filling my face only to realize I could have probably enjoyed something better. It’s a wasted moment of enjoyment and dare I say calories.
Lunch seems to be the hardest for me to really nurture when it comes to planning. I usually find myself staring into the fridge with only minutes to act before leaving for work. And sadly, this scenario has led to a few less-than-enjoyable lunches.
So in order to be proactive, I decided to take advantage of some free time this Sunday to prepare a fabulous lunch. That meant it had to be easy to store, easy to travel and full of nutrion.
I started with a base of toasted quinoa cooked in onions and garlic. Quinoa, if you’re not familiar, is a grain-like ingredient that’s actually high in protein. You can find quinoa in an array of colors from beige to red. It’s great for salads just like this because it cooks up quickly and keeps for days in your fridge.
Next, roasted sweet potatoes and toasted almonds add fun texture while fresh cilantro and dried cranberries give the dish bright pops of flavor. I love the variety of colors in this salad. It calls out “I’m good for you!”
Dressed with an easy lime-honey vinaigrette, this dish came together deliciously. I really enjoyed how the sweetness from the potatoes and dried cranberry cut the tanginess of the dressing. The almonds bring out the nuttiness of quinoa while adding a great bite of crunch. This is definitely not a dish you will regret enjoying.
- 1 cup cubed sweet potato (about 1 large potato)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- salt and pepper
- pinch of cumin
- pinch of smoked paprika
- 2 tablespoons butter, divided
- ¼ cup chopped red onion
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 cup dry quinoa, rinsed
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- zest of 2 limes
- juice of 2 limes
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
- ¼ teaspoon cumin
- salt and pepper
- ¼ cup almond slivers
- ¼ cup dried cranberry, roughly chopped
- ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Cover a large roasting pan with tin foil. Spread sweet potato cubes evenly onto pan. Season potatoes with olive oil, salt, pepper, cumin and paprika. Toss together with clean hands. Spread into one even layer. Roast for 20 minutes, stirring half way.
- While the potatoes roast, add 1 tablespoon butter to a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Once hot, add chopped onion and a pinch of salt. Cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for one minute. Add quinoa and another tablespoon of butter to the pan. Continue stiring and toast until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add vegetable stock, stir and bring to a boil. Once boiling, cover and lower heat. Cook for 15 minutes.
- While quinoa cooks, whisk together zest of limes, juice of limes, olive oil, honey, and cumin in a small bowl. Season to taste. Set aside. Place a small, dry saute pan over medium heat. Add almond slivers and toast for 5-10 minutes or until fragrant and slightly browned. Set aside.
- Once quinoa is cooked, fluff with a fork and add to a large bowl. Top with sweet potatoes, almonds, cranberries and fresh cilantro. Gently toss. Pour over dressing and toss again. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper. Serve.