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Beet, Roasted Pumpkin and Avocado Salad

Other than knowing that tacos and beer await on the other side of the Atlantic, here isn’t much about an 11-hour flight that I look forward to.

I am not one of those people who can easily fall asleep on airplanes; rather, I’m the one sitting in the dark, reading my book underneath a single beam of light while everyone else around me is dozing. I gave up on watching inflight movies awhile back, because they were too hard to see on the tiny monitors. My fancy headphones need to be either repaired or replaced; I can’t listen to music without constantly having to give the wires a jiggle.

However, there is one thing that I love about flying: the food.

Like any good road trip, an air trip isn’t complete without the right take-along snacks. Since there’s no pulling into the nearest DQ along the highway for a Butterfinger Blizzard, I’ve come up with a list of to-go treats to make the long haul more enjoyable:

1. Almonds.

2. Fruit & Form bars. I like the ones with les fruits rouges the best. They taste like crackers with homemade raspberry-blueberry jam.

3. Ritz crackers for salty cravings. They only come in small boxes in France, anyway, which makes them perfect for air travel.

4. Gaufres au miel. Waffles with honey. I discovered these oversize crunchy cookies when I first moved to France and ate an entire box on a train trip to Germany.

5. Something chocolate. I often pack a chocolate bar, but on this trip, I made my own chocolate-chocolate chip brownies, and cut them into tiny squares, so I wouldn’t eat it all at once.

6. Lunch. I always make a vegetarian something with quinoa, usually a salad with roasted veggies very much like these, but it all depends on what’s in season. The idea is to make something that’s easy to put together, and that’ll be filling, but not heavy. I always think about texture, color, and crunch and try to steer clear of anything that’ll be tricky to digest. This is the first time I’ve made this salad, and I was so happy with it, it’s going to become a regular — for trips and for staying home, too.

This may seem like a lot, and it sort of is…but I always end up sharing, which is part of the fun of eating, anyway. Wherever you happen to be.

Beet, Roasted Pumpkin and Avocado Salad

Makes 4 servings


1. Preheat your oven to 400°F/200°C.

2. Trim the ends off of the beets, give them a good rinse and dry, and wrap them with heavy duty foil. Put the foil-wrapped beets on a cookie sheet and slide them into the oven to bake for an hour, depending on the size of your beets. To check doneness, simply take them out of the oven, unwrap the foil – do this carefully so you don’t burn yourself — and slide a dinner knife into the beet. It’s done if it easily cuts through the beet. If it doesn’t, just wrap it back up, and put it back in the oven. When they’re done, let the beets completely cool in the foil before slicing – and don’t wear white when you do.

3. Turn the heat to broil, and line a cookie sheet with foil. Put the pumpkin on the cookie sheet, toss with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and slide into the oven. Cook until the pumpkin browns on the edges, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.

4. Cook your quinoa by putting two cups of salted water onto boil, and when it boils, add the 1 cup of quinoa. Turn of the heat, cover, and let rest for 15 minutes or until the quinoa absorbs all of the water. Fluff.

5. To assemble your salad, simply put the beets, pumpkin, quinoa, avocado, and sunflower seeds in a bowl and toss with some of the EZ Dijon Vinaigrette. Serve warm, cold, or at room temperature.

Advance Planning: Roast the beets and pumpkin ahead of time and simply assemble when you’re ready.

E-Z French Vinaigrette

Makes ¾ cup


Put your sherry vinegar, minced shallot, mustard, a big pinch of salt and pepper and herbs in a jam jar, and shake until combined. Let rest for about 10 minutes — this softens the intensity of the shallots’ flavor and allows the salt to dissolve, then add the olive oil. Taste for seasonings.