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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Roasted Vegetable & White Bean Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette (Vegan, Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Refined Sugar-Free)

Last week, I unplugged from technology for awhile (aside from taking pictures) because I was in Costa Rica! The Wi-Fi in the limited areas that offered it were very weak. That being said, it forced me to do a technology fast and just thoroughly enjoy my surroundings and experiences in their entirety, without the distraction of texting or updating social media, which really does take away from the present moment. I knew I'd have plenty of time to do that when I returned back to the U.S. 

Anyway, traveling to another country has ignited a wanderlust in me like never before. I wish I could put into words how incredible it was but words cannot possibly do the experience justice. I'll dedicate an entire post to my trip with pictures and my thoughts on traveling to Costa Rica as a vegan.

Now, on to the recipe of the week... I was trying to think of the perfect way to say farewell to winter in about a month. This roasted vegetable dish seemed to be the perfect way to do so. I am going to have a difficult time saying goodbye to my beloved winter vegetables so I put some of my favorites in this recipe. I was inspired by a dish called the Autumn Ingredient Salad that comes from one of my new favorite restaurants that just opened in Dallas called True Food Kitchen, which is actually owned by integrative medicine pioneer, Dr. Andrew Weil. They are about to change up their menu for the spring but the Autumn Ingredient Salad is my favorite item on the fall/winter menu so I knew I had to recreate it at home. Fortunately, it's vegan and gluten-free at the restaurant, too, so I didn't have to change too much. I have to be honest, this recipe is a bit time consuming because of the vegetable preparation but I promise it's so worth it. I could eat this dish several times a week and not grow tired of it. It would make a lovely side dish, too, though as an entree, it is surprisingly filling and satisfying. The roasting brings out the natural sweetness of the vegetables, the beans add bulk and texture, the pomegranate seeds add a crunch and light, fruity flavor, and the vinaigrette rounds it all out with a slight tang. The combination of flavors and textures is just as delightful and as comforting as a soft blanket and hot tea in the winter.

Roasted Vegetable & White Bean Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette
YIELD: 2 servings as an entree or 4 servings as a side dish

For the salad:
• 3 cups cauliflower florets, chopped into bite-size pieces
• 3 cups brussels sprouts, outer skins & ends removed & chopped in half
• 3 cups butternut squash, chopped into 1/2-inch cubes *See note
• 1-2 Tbs unrefined coconut oil, melted
• 3/4 tsp sea salt, divided
• Black pepper, to taste
• 1 (15 oz.) can cannellini beans (or 1 cup cooked), drained & rinsed
• 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds

For the champagne vinaigrette:
• 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
• 3 Tbs apple cider vinegar
• 1 tsp dijon mustard
• 5 drops liquid stevia or 3 tsp raw coconut nectar

1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with a Silpat baking mat or parchment paper.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cauliflower florets, brussels sprouts halves, butternut squash cubes, coconut oil, 1/2 tsp sea salt, and black pepper and mix well. Place the vegetables on the baking sheets and spread them out evenly so they don't touch. Roast for 30-35 minutes, or until lightly browned and tender.
3. While the vegetables roast, combine all of the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk well. Set aside.
4. 10 minutes before the vegetables are done, heat a large sauce pan over medium-low heat. Combine the cannellini beans, 1/4 tsp sea salt and a few tsp water, and heat for 15 minutes. Add more water as needed to prevent sticking.
5. When the vegetables are done roasting, let them cool for 5 minutes. Then, add the roasted vegetables and the pomegranate seeds to the beans. Gently stir all of the ingredients together. Serve on a plate and drizzle desired amount of champagne vinaigrette on top.

• If you need step-by-step directions on how to peel and chop butternut squash see this blog post.
 Store vinaigrette leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.

What is your favorite place you've travelled to? I am already planning my next travel adventure. Europe has to be next. It has been on my heart for a long time. Any tips for me?

Before I let you go, I'd also like to wish you a very happy and love-filled Valentine's Day! Check out my last post for a natural aphrodisiac, a chocolate strawberry parfait dessert for two, one for you and one for your loved one or two for you. ;-)

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." Mark Twain


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