Ahhh the weekend. I’ve really been looking forward to the weekend!! And not because of any exciting plans or anything spectacular, it’s just because I’m super excited to spend two whole days at home in my sweats with nowhere to go! The work and school week is always so crazy busy around here, and sometimes I just need a few days in my little cocoon of home to recharge and de-stress.
I’ve got huge plans too! Huge! Some cleaning, rearranging my living room furniture, Netflix, and making this Roasted Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad are in my near future. It is just me, or am I the only person who will spend all day rearranging my entire living room, only to wind up putting it the way I already had it!!
I love making different versions of quinoa salads, especially in the spring and summertime when I tend to lighten up my food choices. I admit that I tend to cook more hearty, comfort style foods in the cooler months, which is typical for most of us I think. But I was thinking, why not incorporate some of my favorite fall flavors into a quinoa salad?
Quinoa is super popular lately and with good reason. It’s gluten-free, high in protein, and is one of the few plant foods that contain all nine essential amino acids. So it’s something you can feel good about feeding yourself and your family.
I decided to add some roasted butternut squash, crisp Granny Smith apples, dried cranberries, toasted walnuts, and a sprinkling of feta cheese in with the quinoa. All of these ingredients pair so well together and just taste like fall to me. But you can totally customize this salad anyway you like! Some toasted pumpkin seeds, fresh baby spinach, or pomegranate seeds would be delicious added in.
I plan on serving this salad as a side dish along some chicken for our Saturday dinner, but I think it would make a fabulous entree for a meatless Monday. I also think it would be a great addition to a Thanksgiving dinner. Not only is it a bit healthier than your typical holiday side dish, it’s nice to have a vegetarian offering when hosting a large event.
Roasted Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad
1 whole butternut squash (peeled and cubed)
1 Tbs pure maple syrup
Salt and pepper
1/2 C dried cranberries
3 C cooked quinoa (1 cup dried)
1 Granny Smith apple (peeled and diced)
1/2 C walnuts (toasted and chopped)
1/2 C crumbled feta cheese
1/2 C green onion finely diced
For The Vinaigrette
1/4 C apple cider vinegar
1/2 C olive oil
2 Tbs pure maple syrup
2 Tbs Dijon mustard
1 shallot (peeled and finely minced)
Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Cut the top and bottom from the squash and pierce the skin with a fork. Place squash in microwave for 2 minutes, just to soften the skin. Let squash cool and then peel and cube.
Place the cubed squash on the baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and the maple syrup. Salt and pepper to taste. Toss together and roast for about 25 minutes. For the last five minutes add in the dried cranberries and mix together. Cook until the squash is tender and slightly caramelized.
While squash is roasting prepare the quinoa to package directions, making sure to rinse quinoa before cooking.
To toast the walnuts, place walnut halves in a dry skillet over medium heat and cook for about 2 minutes. Stir constantly to ensure nuts do not burn. Remove from heat and chop.
For the vinaigrette
In a measuring cup add in the apple cider vinegar, mustard, maple syrup, and the olive oil. Whisk together until emulsified and then whisk in the shallots and salt and pepper to taste.
In a large bowl add the roasted squash and cranberries, diced apple, toasted walnuts, cooked quinoa, green onion, and feta. Stir to combine and add in the vinaigrette.
Serve warm or at room temperature.