Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Butternut Squash, Arugula, and Quinoa Salad with Maple Vinaigrette

Butternut Squash, Arugula, and Quinoa Salad with Cranberries and Pecans

This recipe idea came to me one night when I couldn't sleep.  I hopped out of bed and typed myself a message in my iPhone notes section so when it came time to think about Thanksgiving, I wouldn't forget to make a healthy quinoa salad packed with fall harvest worthy flavors - butternut squash, cranberries, and maple. Thank goodness I was awake enough to have the foresight to make a note of this!  Not only is this a wonderful "healthy" side option for Thanksgiving, but it tastes great too!  And this salad can be served warm or cold, so you could make it ahead of time to free up space on the stove and in the oven for other Thanksgiving dishes.  Your vegetarian friends or family members will also love you if you bring this as a side. Win-win-win all around! Did I mention that it is pretty?  Because it is that too!  If you are celebrating American Thanksgiving, there is no need to wait. This salad makes a fantastic lunch, and you'll want to test it out before serving it to your guests at Thanksgiving anyways!

Don't forget to enter the Le Creuset grill pan giveaway!  It ends at 12:01 a.m. Friday, get your entries in, there are so many ways to win! 

Butternut Squash, Arugula, and Quinoa Salad with Maple Vinaigrette

Butternut Squash, Arugula, and Quinoa Salad with Maple Vinaigrette

2 pound butternut squash, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup dry quinoa
2 cups arugula
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup chopped pecans

Maple Vinaigrette
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1-1/2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Dash of sea salt
Freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Toss diced butternut squash with olive oil and spread it out on the baking sheet in a single layer.  Roast for 20 minutes, turning the squash over once after 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and cool slightly.

While the squash roasts, add quinoa and 2 cups of water to a small saucepan.  Bring the water to a boil, then turn the heat down to low, cover with a lid, and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the lid, fluff with a fork, and let cool slightly.

Whisk together the vinaigrette while the squash and quinoa cook.  You can also "plump" up the cranberries by mixing them with a bit of water and microwaving for about 15 seconds.

When the squash and quinoa have cooled a bit, mix them together.  Add the cranberries and pecans. Pour on the vinaigrette and stir well.  Add the arugula just before serving.

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