Red Quinoa and Butternut Squash Salad

While I love making sandwiches for lunch, every once in a while I find myself looking for something a little more interesting.  I’m also always looking for dishes that are multipurpose – where it works as a side, a full meal or a simple lunch.  I definitely had lunch envy the other day when a colleague was taking out her amazing looking quinoa salad, and it occurred to me that it’s been forever since I made any quinoa salads (minus the most recent disaster when an entire quinoa salad went flying out of my refrigerator and crashing.)

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Anyways, I came across this delicious recipe from someone who apparently also seeks to defeat the “sad desk lunch” — who knew that there’s apparently an entire website devoted to sad desk lunches?  There’s a whole universe of delicious, easily packable lunches – so why are so many people suffering?

But I digress, the point is that I made this salad once, and then had it as a side with salmon, for lunch with some sliced chicken, and again for dinner with sliced chicken (I could have even just thrown an egg on it.)  The pomegranate seeds add a bit of colorful flair (take that sad desk lunches!) and the arugula tossed in adds even more color and crunch to an already colorful dish that just begs to be photographed.

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ cups butternut squash, cut into ½ inch cubes
  • 4 teaspoons, extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¾ cup uncooked red quinoa
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon good quality maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • Salt
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted
  • 1/3 cup pomegranate arils
  • 2 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped
  • 3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • Handful of arugula (optional)

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place the cubed butternut squash on a baking sheet or in a baking pan. Drizzle with two teaspoons olive oil and sprinkle with ground cinnamon. Toss to coat. Roast your butternut squash for 30 minutes, stirring after 15 minutes, until it is very tender.
  3. While your squash is roasting, cook red quinoa according to package directions (I find this is generally a 1 cup of quinoa to 1.5 cups of water or broth if you choose to use that instead). When cooked, transfer it to a large bowl to cool slightly.
  4. In a small bowl, combine the minced shallots, remaining two teaspoons olive oil, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, lemon juice and cayenne pepper. Season with salt to taste and set your dressing aside until ready to use.
  5. Toast walnuts in a small pan over medium-high heat.  Just make sure to watch that it doesn’t get too toasty crisp! Remove from the pan and set aside.
  6. Add your roasted butternut squash, toasted walnuts, pomegranate arils, arugula, parsley and crumbled feta cheese to the bowl with your cooked red quinoa. Pour the dressing over your salad and gently toss to coat. Serve warm, at room temperature or chilled.

Adapted from Domesticate-me Red Quinoa and Butternut Squash Salad.

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