There’s no doubt I’ve been on a quinoa kick lately. Pearl-shaped supergrain high in protein, gluten free, and with 8 essential amino acids that our bodies crave, making it a complete protein! Much healthier than rice or pasta and definitely lighter on your stomach.
Quinoa is very bland when cooked and eaten as is but when you pack it with flavorful ingredients, it makes a delicious meal. Plus those little pearl-shaped grains are super fluffy and not too overbearing when added to any dish. I’ve been incorporating a lot of quinoa into my favorite dishes, like adding it to a green salad for added boost or using it instead of pasta in my favorite bakes.
There are certainly many ways to add quinoa to a dish but my favorite is probably making a big bowl of delish salad out of it. Like this Butternut Squash and Cranberry Quinoa Salad. All the favorite fall flavors in one bowl! Roasted butternut squash, sweet cranberries, and salty toasted pumpkin seeds mixed with a sweet Balsamic Vinaigrette. Serve it chilled as a side, take it as a lunch or serve it for dinner topped with sliced chicken. All are fine choices!
I used rainbow quinoa just because it’s so purtty but use whatever quinoa you have on hand. Also if you don’t like pumpkin seeds, use toasted walnuts, almonds, or pine nuts. Same with the cranberries…play around with the dried fruit and add whatever your little heart desires. Many ways to make this salad your own. Enjoy!
- 3 cups butternut squash, chopped
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa (I used rainbow quinoa but any type will do)
- 1½ cups water
- ⅓ cup dried cranberries
- ⅓ cup red onion, finely chopped
- 3 Tbsp. toasted pumpkin seeds
- salt and black pepper
- ½ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp. honey
- 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- salt and black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400F.
- In a large bowl, toss the butternut squash with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Arrange coated squash on a baking sheet in a single layer. Roast for 20-25 minutes or until squash is tender and lightly browned.
- While the squash is roasting, rinse quinoa under cold water until water runs clear. Place quinoa and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook partially covered until liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes.
- To assemble the salad, combine the cooked quinoa, roasted squash, cranberries, red onion, toasted pumpkin seeds in a large bowl. Add the vinaigrette and mix until combined. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Chill in the refrigerator for couple hours and serve.
- Whisk all the ingredients in a small bowl until combined. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
**update (12/15/15) cilantro in the pictures is used as a garnish for photography ,there is no cilantro in the actual recipe