Chris… some people eat to live, and others live to eat.”
I can’t even begin to count the number of times my mom told me this throughout my childhood. I have always been on the pudgy side of the weight spectrum. Always. Man, I just absolutely love to eat. Always have, always will. My metabolism has never been able to keep up with my ambitious food intake. If only there was an app for that.
And especially now that I’m in my 30s… forget it. So with our Baby Olivia expected to arrive in a short while, it’s important to me now more than ever to be on track with a balanced lifestyle. Exercise regularly (you know how I love to exercise… but I’m doing it!). Eat the right stuff. And this ridiculously easy and super flavorful Roasted Vegetable Grain Salad with Avocado, Feta, and Walnuts lets me do just that.
- I used some wild rice and whole wheat couscous, but you could easily swap in some quinoa, brown rice, farro, lentils… you get the idea.
- My roasted veggies here are sweet potato, butternut squash, and beets (and grapes… yes, I know they are a fruit). Have some other veggie love? Rock it. Own it. Embrace it.
- Mix-in walnuts, crumbled feta, chopped parsley, and avocado. Or don’t. You could easily use cherry tomatoes, roasted red peppers, olives, pine nuts, goat cheese… get creative and build some serious flavor.
But of course, the real star of this show that bring all these flavors together? This awesome balsamic vinaigrette.
And you know what makes me feel really good about serving this dressing to Asheley (and ipso facto Baby Olivia)? When I flip the bottle around and look at the ingredient list, it’s short. AND, I can actually read and understand all the ingredients on the label. It’s got none of that preservative, HFCS, or artificial flavor/color garbage.
Marzetti® has some legit history. They began as a family restaurant in Columbus, Ohio more than 125 years ago. Customers were all about their dressings, so they began packaging and selling them in stores during the 1950s. You can find Marzetti® Simply Dressed® Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing, as well as a whole bunch of other great flavors, in the refrigerated section of your local grocery store.
And then you can get your whole grain and veggies on… and be living the balanced lifestyle dream 🙂
- 3 cups cooked black or wild rice
- 2 cups cooked whole wheat couscous
- 1 small butternut squash, peeled and seeded
- 1 medium sweet potato
- 2 beets, peeled
- 2 cups red-skinned seedless grapes
- Olive oil
- Kosher salt
- 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/2 cup crumbled Feta cheese
- 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup Marzetti® Simply Dressed® Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing
- 2 avocados, sliced
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Chop butternut squash, sweet potato, and beets into uniform 1/4″ – 1/2″ pieces. Place vegetables on separate aluminum foil lined baking sheets, drizzle lightly with olive oil, and season with Kosher salt. Toss to coat and make sure they are in a single layer. Roast until tender, about 20-30 minutes (cooking time will vary depending upon how large the vegetables were chopped… squash and sweet potato cooks more quickly than beets typically).
- Place grapes in a single layer on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and season with Kosher salt. Toss to coat and roast until grapes wrinkle and collapse slightly, about 20-25 minutes.
- Grains and roasted vegetables should not be piping hot when assembling salad. It’s best if they’ve had a chance to cool a bit (room temperature is totally great). Combine rice, couscous, desired amount of roasted vegetables and grapes (about 2 to 3 cups), chopped walnuts, crumbled feta, and chopped parsley in a large bowl. Drizzle in balsamic vinaigrette, toss to coat, and divide among bowls. Top with sliced avocado and devour immediately.
Feel free to substitute other grains as desired. Quinoa, brown rice, farro, lentils, etc. will all work great!
Although I’ve given approximate amounts of each ingredient, please customize this salad to your liking. Want more walnuts or feta cheese? Go for it. Less parsley? Rock on. And I would suggest starting with a smaller amount of dressing, mix it in, and taste. Keep adding a little more, tasting along the way, until you reach that perfect balance.
You’ll probably have more roasted vegetables and grapes than you need. Refrigerate unused portion for up to several days and use for something else (mix in to some pasta one night, make some crostini, etc.).
How will you use Marzetti® Simply Dressed® refrigerated salad dressings to make fresh and simple meals for you and your family? Leave a comment below to enter for a chance to win a $100 Visa gift card.
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