Welcome to 2015! The holidays have come and gone, and if you're anything like me, you're craving some lighter, healthier fare to get this year off to a fresh start. Grilled chicken breasts and steamed broccoli get boring fast
, and sometimes it's hard to stomach leafy salads in the winter-time. (At least for me, just being honest!)
I've always had a bad attitude when it comes to quinoa. I've made a few recipes in the last couple years that were NOT good, and I quickly decided that quinoa was a food I just "didn't like". Well, I was watching the Food Network a few weeks ago, and Giada made this delicious looking grain-based salad using none other than - quinoa. I groaned, but decided maybe
, just maybe, I would give it one more chance. It's a nutritional powerhouse - it's high in protein and fiber, and also gluten-free.
I'm so glad I did, because I love quinoa in this Quinoa, Roasted Squash, and Apple Salad
! Cooked quinoa is combined with roasted squash, crisp apples, dried cherries, and toasted pecans with a slightly smoky cumin vinaigrette. The vinaigrette is key here... it's where all the flavor and moisture is! I think my experiences with quinoa in the past were lacking in the flavor and moisture department. Nothing like dry quinoa to turn you away.
Start by roasting your squash - roast cubed butternut squash tossed with olive oil, cumin, salt, and pepper at 400*F for about 30 minutes until tender.
While the squash is roasting, prepare your quinoa. Cook 11/4 cups quinoa in 2 cups vegetable stock or chicken stock about 15 minutes until water is absorbed; then let it sit 5-10 minutes before fluffing with a fork. Using stock instead of watergives it a little extra kick of flavor.
While the squash is roasting and quinoa is simmering, prepare your vinaigrette. Combine olive oil, apple cider vinegar, cumin, and a few other spices in a container with a lid, and shake vigorously to combine.
Once all these elements are done, simply combine everything in a big bowl! Squash, quinoa, baby spinach, dried cherries, and toasted pecans. Let it sit 5 minutes to wilt the spinach; then pour the vinaigrette over all. Toss to combine and serve! It can be served warm, room temperature, or cold, but I liked it warm the best. It would be even better topped with a sprinkle of feta or goat cheese!
Quinoa, Roasted Squash, and Apple Salad with Cumin Vinaigrette
Servings/Yield: 6 servings
- For the vinaigrette:
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2½ tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½-1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼-½ teaspoon chili powder
- dash ground cinnamon
- dash ground allspice
- 1 large shallot, finely chopped
- For the salad:
- 2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
- 1¼ cups whole-grain quinoa
- 4-5 cups peeled & cubed butternut squash
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- 1 large Honeycrisp apple, diced
- ½ cup dried cherries
- ¾ cup toasted chopped pecans
- 6-8 cups baby spinach
1. For the vinaigrette, combine all ingredients in a jar or container with lid. Shake until well-combined. Set aside.
2. For the salad, roast the butternut squash. Preheat oven to 400*F. Place squash cubes in a 9x13-inch pan. Toss with olive oil, salt, black pepper, and cumin. Roast 30-40 minutes until tender, stirring every few minutes. Set aside.
3. While squash is roasting, prepare the quinoa. Bring vegetable or chicken broth to a boil in a medium saucepan; add quinoa. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer 15 minutes until quinoa is tender. Remove from heat and let quinoa stand, covered, 5-10 minutes; then fluff with a fork.
4. To make salad, place baby spinach in bottom of large bowl. Pour warm quinoa and squash over spinach; add diced apple, dried cherries, and walnut pieces. Let sit 5 minutes to wilt the spinach. Pour vinaigrette over the salad and toss to combine.
Source: adapted from Giada De Laurentiis