Give me a bowl of autumn squash soup and you better watch your fingers--I might just devour them in my spoon-to-mouth shoveling. The start of fall for me isn’t about PSLs or Uggs…it’s about Panera’s autumn squash soup. Every year, at the stroke of midnight, I chime my imaginary bell in celebration, when summer turns into the joyous new season of fall. But other than fall, I can equate my interaction with Panera with the likes of my bothersome DMV registration renewal that sits perpetually ignored…uninteresting and purposefully put-off. It wasn’t until the flowers came out to bloom this spring and Panera introduced its vegan, quinoa, beet, and citrus, superfood salad that I found a renewal in admiration.
The wholesome, nutty quinoa, earthy beets, tantalizingly sweet orange segments, and crispy nuts were enough to make me a Panera spring believer! And while I munched down my soon-to-be food baby, I wondered why I hadn’t ever thought of making this kind of salad myself. With it being vegan and with Panera’s commitment to 100% clean ingredients, I knew it wouldn’t be that hard to mimic the sultry seasonal flavors I’d fallen in love with.
And guess what? It wasn’t!
Just as easy and for a lower cost, you can create your own Panera café in the center of your kitchen--thirst-quenching fountain green tea not included.
In this recipe, you’ll fall in love all over again with the delicious, crisp, seasonal, savory bits of spring we tend to forget, but all-around love. You’ll delight in the heap of nutritional benefits, such as:
• Quinoa & Walnuts – contain the anti-inflammatory and brain-improving omega-3 fatty acid
• Kale – full of antioxidants, vitamin a, vitamin k, vitamin c, and many other nutrients
• Brussel sprouts – contain glucosinolates that provide antibacterial and antiviral properties
• Beets – contains nitric oxide which can improve circulation
And with my easy, homemade tangy and sweet Dijon vinaigrette dressing, I dare you NOT to fall in love with it!
1. Prepare quinoa according to package instructions, typical instructions are 2 parts water/veggie broth to 1 part quinoa.
2. While the quinoa is cooking, slice and halve the beets. If canned, be sure to rinse off the juice before slicing. Peel the satsuma mandarin/cutie and divide into wedges. Place the walnuts into a plastic bag, seal, and pound into bite-sized pieces. Shred the kale, Brussel sprouts, and red cabbage into thin strips. Cut the red onion into similar long, thin strips.
3. Set salad aside and prepare the dressing. Combine the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, maple syrup, salt, and pepper.
4. Combine the salad mix, cooked quinoa, and dressing, and enjoy!
Multiply this recipe for easy weekday meal prep, weekend luncheon, or perfect pairing to a fancy Sunday brunch. Wherever and whenever you choose to make your copy-cat salad, I know you’ll simply love it!
Missy is a born-and-raised southern Californian. After eight years working in production in the Los Angeles music scene she left to study film and journalism, with an emphasis in documentaries—in tandem, becoming a copywriter and marketing exec. She is constantly on the hunt for the gooiest, easiest, vegan-friendliest recipes she can not only eat, but share. And, in her free-time writes about the who and what's of vegan living. Follow Missy on Pinterest @missylynr.