Root Vegetable Salad with Couscous and Lemon-Tahini Dressing
Root Vegetable Salad with Couscous and Lemon-Tahini Dressing

Some time ago, I talked about the really disappointing experience I had at a gym I had just joined. The gym was one of those “only $20 a month” type deals with no classes and a pretty cramped environment. However, it was close to home and I really wanted to get back to going. (I should mention, IΒ hateΒ gyms. I’d rather snowboard/hike/disc golf/skate/yoga.) Anyway, I was going to give it a try and I even got past the run-in I had with the trainer. But I just couldn’t do it.

Fast forward months and months to a conversation I was having with a friend. She goes nearly every day and I asked her how she motivated herself (because she also works for herself and has kids, so really if she can do it, I have no excuse.) She mentioned she started at one gym but hated the environment. She moved on and found a new gym, with a new environment that she really enjoyed (and made her want to go to the gym.) A rather “oh yeah” thought, but I kept thinking it was all gyms I hated.

Turns out, it’s not. I found a fitness center that’s focus is more climbing but also has a gym and offers classes. I’m in love, seriously. Since I hurt my wrist snowboarding, I’m easing my way back in but I’ve got plans to start climbing (and I am SO excited.) It’s always amazing what a change of environment can do.

This is my final, “see you later winter” salad. California has gotten some much needed rain in the past week and it felt more like winter then it did spring (although, I have two baby tomatoes on one of my plants that I gambled by planting early). This salad used up the last couple of parsnips and rutabagas I still had hiding in the crisper while pairing it with the lightness of lemon. I’ve been in love with using tahini and sunflower nut butter in everything and this dressing has quickly become a favorite. Of course, if you’ve parted ways with winter, I think some roasted asparagus would be perfect for this salad in place of the root vegetables!


Root Vegetable Salad with Couscous and Lemon-Tahini Dressing

  • Author: Erin Alderson
  • Yield: 2-3


  • Salad
  • 2 cups peeled rutabaga, cut in 1/4-inch cubes
  • 2 cups peeled parsnips, cut in 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Pinch each salt, pepper
  • 1 cup pearl couscous
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 2 cups packed baby spinach
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 ounce goat cheese, crumbled
  • Dressing
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoon honey
  • Pinch each salt, pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the cubed rutabaga and parsnip; blanch for 4 minutes, drain, and transfer to a roasting pan. Toss with olive oil, honey, salt and pepper. Roast until tender and starting to brown, 20 to 25 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the pearl couscous with 1 1/4 cup water. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer, covered, until the couscous is tender (like an al dente pasta) and all the water has been absorbed, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat, fluff with a fork, and let cool slightly.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper as desired. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water to thin the dressing.
  5. To assemble the salad, toss the roasted root vegetables, couscous and spinach together. Transfer to serving bowls. Drizzle dressing over salad and finish with a sprinkle of sesame seeds and goat cheese.

Β *recipe originally developed for the San Jose Mercury News