Fall Salad/Side Dish: Butternut Quinoa with Cranberries & Pepitas
If you need any proof that it’s possible to eat fabulously as a vegan, you only need to visit Denver. We just spent the weekend with our friends Jed and Lara there and ate at Justin Cucci’s restaurants, Linger and Root Down. Not only is Linger’s menu focused on global street food, which would be a potential disaster in less capable hands, these restaurants serve both carnivores and vegans, satisfying all parties. And Root Down makes a mean blood orange mimosa at brunch. I came back from Denver thinking about vegetarian dishes, and while I made a beefy, warms-your-soul pot of chili earlier in the week, I also roasted up a butternut squash and made a little butternut and quinoa salad with the flavors of fall.
While it’s all about the pumpkin this time of year, it’s butternut (and sweet dumpling) squash that I really love. As much as it’s a little high-maintenance with all that peeling and cubing, roasting the dense flesh of the butternut is worth it to bring out the flavor.
It might seem like twice the dressing you need, but grains seem to just drink up the dressing, especially if you plan to have this for two lunches. You’ll want the dressing for the next day. Omit the maple syrup if your oranges are sweet, or leave it in if you like a sweeter dressing.
If you want a little meat, a slice or two of bacon fried ’til crisp and broken over the top wouldn’t be a bad addition.
- ¾ c. quinoa (yields 2½ to 3 c. cooked)
- 1½ c. water
- 1 1.5 lb. butternut squash, cut into ¾ in. cubes
- 2 cloves garlic.
- 3 T. olive oil, divided
- 2-3 leaves of kale, cut into ribbons
- ¼ c. dried cranberries
- 2 T. pepitas
- ¼ c. orange juice (from one medium orange) + zest
- 2 t. minced red onion (or shallot)
- 2 t. champagne vinegar
- 1 T. maple syrup (if desired)
- salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 375F. Coat the butternut squash and garlic in 1 T. olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread the squash in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes, turning half way through. Squash should be tender and cooked through. Let cool.
- While the squash is roasting, combine quinoa and water in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes until water is absorbed.
- Let cool.
- To make the dressing, whisk together orange juice, zest, 2 T. olive oil, red onion, garlic, maple syrup, if desired and season with salt and pepper.
- In a large bowl, combine the quinoa, squash, kale and cranberries. Pour in half the dressing and stir until evenly coated. Taste and add more dressing as needed. Let sit for 5-10 minutes to let the kale wilt a bit. Garnish with pepitas and serve.