Learning to cook in smaller portion sizes can be a big adjustment in the empty nest! You don’t want to end up throwing out a bunch of food or having to store lots of leftovers. Also, now that your little excuses have moved out of the house, you may be trying to eat lighter and healthier like we are. Yeah, there’s that. Y’all have been asking me for some perfectly-portioned-for-the-empty-nest recipes, so today, I’m sharing my favorite layered salad recipe with you.
The stars of this recipe are asparagus and quinoa, two nutritional powerhouses. Asparagus is an excellent source of fiber, high in folic acid, and a good source of potassium, fiber, thiamin, and vitamins A, B6, and C. Quinoa is a gluten-free, protein-rich grain that’s been hailed as a “super food.” It’s high in fiber, low on the glycemic index, and rich in magnesium, iron, zinc, potassium, and antioxidants. Best of all, it’s easy to cook! I use this small portion-size rice cooker, which was one of my first empty nester purchases. (At around $15, I couldn’t resist!) The 1:2 ratio for cooking is the same as for rice, and I use ½ cup of quinoa to 1 cup water to get a cooked yield of about 2 cups. I usually cook up a batch on Sunday afternoons and use it in salads or my morning cereal for an extra pop of protein.
I’ve been really into layered salads lately because they make a beautiful presentation in a glass bowl and my husband is super impressed with me before he’s even taken a bite! 🙂 Also, I’m one of those people that like to know and see what I’m eating before I eat it, and my taste buds get all excited when something looks really pretty. If you don’t have a glass bowl, you might consider picking up one. They’re not necessarily expensive, and I think it’s one of those small investments, big-bang-for-the-buck kind of items! I ordered this one from Target, and it was under $10.
Suzy’s Layered Salad for Two
1 c. cooked, cooled quinoa
1 c. arugula lettuce, ready to eat
1. c. radicchio lettuce, ready to eat
1 avocado, diced into small cubes
1. Tbsp. lemon juice
12 red mini-cherub tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
2 chicken breasts, cooked, diced, and cooled
1 c. iceberg lettuce
8 asparagus spears, trimmed and steamed for about 1 minute
4 yellow mini-cherub tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
Salt & pepper to taste
Your favorite salad dressing
On the bottom of a glass bowl, spoon the quinoa. Layer the arugula and radicchio on top, in that order. Toss the diced avocado in the lemon juice and place it on top of the radicchio. Continue layering in the order listed above, with the red tomatoes, diced chicken breast, and the iceberg lettuce. Add the asparagus spears and yellow tomatoes on top.
Serve. Each person can season to taste and add salad dressing.
Want some more meal ideas and recipes to enjoy in the empty nest? Go to the “Lifestyle” tab on the menu at the top of my website, and use the dropdown menu to click on the “Food” category. Also, I’ve linked some of my favorite “cooking for two” cookbooks below.
What foods have you enjoyed in the empty nest that you didn’t necessarily make when the kids were at home? I’d love to know! Hit me up in the comments, okay? (And if you have a recipe you want to share, go for it!)
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