The simple fact of the matter is, I needed a reset. It had been months of chocolate this and chocolate that, and I was feeling my body slowly tell me I had had enough. Enough chocolate? Yes, it’s possible. I started to suspect something was amiss when I brought home from work an empty tupperware container of what once contained my double chocolate chip cookies. “Oh, did you bring your cookies to work?” my husband asked, when he saw me come back in with the empty container. I had. “How did your co-workers like them?” he wondered. I looked sheepishly back at Gennaro, ashamed to admit that my coworkers hadn’t eaten them, I had. I had eaten 4 chocolate chip cookies in one day. They were my lunch. And my mid-afternoon snack. This is what happens when you have a full work schedule and nothing else to bring for lunch at work except chocolate cookies — seemingly the only thing I had been working on in the kitchen that past week.*
* As a side note, I did eventually bring my double chocolate chip cookies to work. And my co-workers did love them, thankfully.
So, after months of chocolate desserts interspersed with some thumbprint cookies, I was ready to call it quits on the desserts for awhile and get my sweet fix elsewhere. Like in a salad. A fresh, seasonal, whole foods, plant-based salad. Something bursting with color and nutrients, that wouldn’t leave me feeling heavy, weighed-down or sluggish.
And I have a rule with salads. They cannot, under any circumstances, be boring. I’ve done the bagged lettuce with bottled dressing thing and I’m not into it. I love and respect vegetables too much to relegate them to an afterthought next to “the rest of” my meal. This salad isn’t the afterthought. It’s the main event. Though it can also certainly round out the meal as a lovely side as well.
Enjoy this salad warm or cold, depending on how the weather is behaving in your area. Where I’m at, we’re still not-so-patiently awaiting a consistently warm spring. But we’re getting there, slowly. So this salad is the perfect compromise of fresh seasonal fruits and veggies, with quinoa for just a bit of warmth and heartiness, if you please.
- 1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar (I use Eden brand because it's naturally fermented and unpasteurized)
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 6 oz. pre-washed baby spinach (the size of one bag from Trader Joe's)
- 1 heaping cup fresh strawberries, quartered (or cut into even smaller pieces if strawberries are larger)
- 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa (for a warmer salad, make sure quinoa is still warm)
- 1/2 cup finely diced red onion
- 3 tablespoons hemp hearts, for sprinkling (optional)
- Make dressing: whisk together orange juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil and sea salt in a small bowl and set aside.
- Assemble salad: Toss remaining ingredients (except for hemp hearts) in a large salad bowl. Add dressing and toss to combine.
- Serve: serve each salad sprinkled with some hemp hearts (optional).