Roasted Veggie Chopped Salad

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I have Jenga Fridge. If you pull one thing out, the whole thing topples. 

My mom's fridge looks the same way. Bits of salad dressing, 4 different kinds of greens wrapped up in paper towels and  in various stages of disintegration, the smallest ends of cheeses, big tupperwares of cooked beans, and 13,000 different condiments. I guess this is the blight of the cook, and it must bring me some kind of security. 

One good problem is that I have too many veggies right now. My solution is almost always to roast them. They become so much more interesting.

Today, it was mushrooms and broccoli, going into a salad that my friend Willow and I ate together at my kitchen table, sun streaming in. It was luxurious to take a big fat break right in the middle of the day and to cover all the topics we covered--friendship, God, kids, food, the trials of self-promotion. 

More and more, I'm not identifying with the "foodie" label. Yes, I love food. I like talking about it, cooking it, even shopping for it sometimes. And I know that's not necessarily normal. But what I'm really into is what happens when we slow down enough to cook something, and what happens when we are intentional enough to invite someone to share it with us. I heard someone say recently, "I find that I don't talk much anymore about what I'm doing. I talk about what I'm noticing." That describes my stance perfectly.

Today, I notice the sun coming out after some epic grayness. I notice the sounds of Loretta and her friend Caleb talking and laughing. I notice that my dog has taken up residence right beside me, as usual. And I notice that I'm alive! There's a million things I'm doing imperfectly or incompletely. I notice that, too, and it's okay.

Roasted Veggie Chopped Salad with Tahini Dressing
As with practically every recipe I ever offer, this is an idea, a template, a suggestion. The point here is winter veggies and how they can be transformed. And how you'll be high on fiber and flavor afterward. Serves four as a main course

For roasted veggies:
1 lb. broccoli florets
1 lb. mushrooms, halved if they're big
2 Tb. olive oil
1 Tb. reduced balsamic vinegar
salt
pepper

For salad:
1 head crunchy romaine, chopped
3 big stalks celery with leaves, chopped
big handful parsley, washed and chopped
3 large carrots, julienned
big handful toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped 
1/2 c. crumbled feta
2 avocados

For dressing 
Juice of one lemon
2 Tb. tahini
salt and pepper
tsp. za'atar (or toasted sesame seeds + dried thyme)
1/4 c. olive oil

To roast veggies, preheat oven to 425. Toss them with olive oil, vinegar, and salt and pepper, and lay them out in a single layer on a piece of parchment. Roast till beginning to soften and crispy in places, about 15 minutes.

To make dressing, whisk all ingredients together, adding more of anything to taste.

Toss first 5 salad ingredients together, adding cooled roasted veggies. In a couple batches, lay the salad out on a cutting board and cut all of it together so everything is a similar size. Put back in the bowl and add feta and dressing.

Arrange it in 4 bowls (I use my hands.) Arrange avocado slices on top and grind a little pepper or put some more toasted sesame seeds on top.