Layered Wild Rice and Roasted Squash Salad

jstr I had a wonderful and indulgent Thanksgiving.  I just got back to New York yesterday, so I decided to do something I don't normally do--meal prep.  I picked up some beautiful pomegranates at the market, so I decided to make a favorite salad of mine that is wonderfully accented by the burst-y crunch of fresh pomegranate seeds.  I thought about naming this salad “Crazy Salad” since it is Crazy Colorful, Crazy Vibrant, Crazy Delicious, Crazy Filling, and Crazy Healthy.


Before making this salad, I had never cooked black rice before.  Black rice turns its cooking water a deep aubergine color.  You can substitute the black and wild rice with just about any grain.  The total time to assemble this salad is about an hour. I love having healthy breakfasts and lunches during the holiday season so that I feel less guilty when it's time to eat all of the delicious holiday goodies ;)

Layered Wild Rice Salad and Roasted Squash Salad

Ingredients 1/2 cup black rice 1/2 cup wild rice 1 medium butternut squash 1/2 cup olive oil, divided 1/4 cup red wine vinegar 2 teaspoons honey 2 green onions, thinly sliced 1 cup pomegranate seeds 2 cups parsley 1/2 cup roasted pistachios, chopped


Preheat oven to 450 F.  Roast the squash with 1/4 cup olive oil on a baking sheet.

Cook black rice and wild rice in a covered pot on low, with 2 cups of salted water. Cook until tender, about 45 minutes.  (Taste to determine when rice is done and be sure to add water if the rice isn’t cooked by the time all of water evaporates.) Drain and rinse, shaking off as much water as possible.  Spread on a rimmed baking sheet and let cool.

Roast the squash until it is browned and tender, about 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and season with salt and pepper.  Let cool.

Prepare the red wine vinaigrette by whisking red wine vinegar, honey, and the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil in a small bowl.

Distribute the vinaigrette among several medium-sized jars. For the second layer, add the black rice and wild rice. (This way, the vinaigrette won't cause the other ingredients to be soggy.) Distribute the roasted squash among the jars for the next layer, followed by the green onions, pomegranate seeds, pistachios and parsley.  Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Spaghetti with Sun Sugar Tomatoes

image It's late summer and finally tomato season. I picked up some gorgeous yellow cherry tomatoes, sun sugar tomatoes, at my weekly market.  I decided to make whole wheat pasta with a vegetable and ground turkey sauce, topped with the delicious and vibrant tomatoes and fresh basil.

The yellow cherry tomatoes are "sun sugar tomatoes," and they are a vibrant orange when at their peak ripeness.

These tomatoes are definitely delicious enough to eat on their own.  They are the sweetest and tangiest of the cherry tomato varieties. I used fresh basil from my basil plant growing on my windowsill--one of two plants in my apartment that I have managed to keep alive all spring and summer.


I  make spaghetti pretty much the same every time I make it. I chop an onion, bell pepper and some garlic. This time, I added mushrooms. I sautee these ingredients, then I add ground turkey and creole seasoning.

Once the meat is cooked through, I add a jar of pasta sauce and let it simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes. I then added the noodles, fresh basil and tomatoes and served. This dish was the perfect Sunday dinner.  The fresh tomatoes as pasta toppings added a refreshing burst to each bite that balanced the otherwise heavy pasta dish.  I served it with a side of steamed collard greens--satisfying and nourishing.


Spaghetti with Sun Sugar Tomatoes
Author: Vallery
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6 servings
  • 1 box whole wheat spaghetti noodles
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound mushrooms, washed thoroughly and chopped
  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • creole seasoning OR salt and pepper
  • 1 jar tomato sauce
  • handful of basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 small carton yellow cherry tomatoes, each cut in half
  1. Cook 2/3 of the box of noodles according to directions. Drain and set aside. (I like my pasta to have more sauce than noodles, so if you like more noodles, just add the entire box to the dish.)
  2. Saute the chopped onion in a large skillet over medium heat until the onion softens and just starts to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and continue to stir.
  3. Add the chopped bell pepper and cook another 5 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms soften.
  4. Add the ground turkey and season with creole seasoning. Stir until the turkey breaks up and is cooked and brown throughout.
  5. Once the ground turkey is cooked through, stir in the jar of tomato sauce. Once the sauce starts to simmer, cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook, covered, for 10 or 15 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat and stir in chopped basil and chopped tomatoes. Correct the seasoning by adding more creole seasoning or salt, if needed.
  7. Stir in the noodles and serve.


Grilled Salmon Skewers with Lemon

d052d9b1-43ee-4a8f-82be-935eef23d885 This recipe for salmon skewers can be made outdoors on a grill, or inside in the kitchen. Either way, you will have delicious, moist salmon kebabs that are simple to prepare and nourishing for your body.

Salmon is a favorite of mine, but the hefty cost of wild-caught salmon (both financially and environmentally) prevents me from consuming it on a regular basis. However, we must be in the middle of salmon season since I found wild-caught salmon at my local grocer for less than $9 a pound!


marinated salmon

This entire recipe can be made start-to-finish in less than 30 minutes. I made a little extra marinade that I brushed on the kebabs once they were on the grill. Since I live in a tiny studio apartment with no access to outdoors, I grilled these in my kitchen on a cast-iron griddle.  They came out absolutely perfectly. I intended on bringing these for my lunch today, but I had an entire serving as soon as they were done since they were so flavorful and moist right off the grill.


Indoor grill life!

To make the marinade, I mixed fresh dill with Dijon mustard, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.  I then reserved about 1/3 of the marinade in a small bowl and set aside. Next, I cut the salmon into chunks and mixed it into the marinade. I allowed the salmon to sit in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes while I sliced the lemons and prepared the grill.

Once the griddle was hot, I grilled the kebabs for about 3 minutes on each side, lightly brushing with the remaining marinade. Serve immediately!

Grilled Salmon Skewers with Lemon
Author: Vallery
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 8 kebabs
  • 1 pound wild-caught salmon, scaly part of the skin removed
  • 2 lemons, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons light/refined olive oil or safflower oil (do not use extra virgin olive oil--you need an oil with a high smoking point)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon fresh dill, finely chopped
  • 2 small garlic cloves, very finely chopped.
  • Skewers (if using wooden, soak them overnight)
  1. In a large bowl, combine the oil, lemon juice, dill, salt, pepper and garlic. Pour 1/3 into a smaller bowl and set aside.
  2. Cut the salmon fillet, skin removed, into 1 and 1/2 inch chunks. Mix the salmon chunks in the large bowl of marinade. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the lemons by thinly slicing them. Prepare the grill. If using a stove-top griddle, light the heat to medium-high.
  4. Prepare the skewers by alternating the salmon chunks with the thinly-sliced lemon. Once the grill is hot, add the skewers and brush remaining marinade on the kebabs. Grill for 3-4 minutes on each side, until done. Serve immediately.