Butternut Squash & Apple Quinoa Salad

Every now and then I talk to a mom who has had to give up just about everything, food-wise. Wheat, dairy, eggs, soy, nuts, maybe even meat. Just thinking about this terrible fate can make you hungry. What do you eat? What can you eat? All roads lead to a plant based diet in this situation but fear not! There are ways to survive without feeling deprived.  You are not limited to merely leafy greens. Grains like lentils and quinoa will add bulk to a dish. Starches like potatoes, sweet potatoes and winter squash are great to cook with as well. Popcorn and kale chips make excellent snacks.

Here is a quinoa (pronounced kee-wah) salad that is hearty and delicious. Best of all it can be made in stages. You can fix the quinoa and roast the butternut squash a few hours ahead of time.

Butternut Squash & Apple Quinoa Salad

1 cup Quinoa

2 cups water

Butternut squash, peeled and chopped into ½ inch dice

6 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp. Lemon juice

2 cloves garlic

1 small red onion finely chopped

¼ cup chopped cilantro

3 cups packed fresh spinach leaves (arugula or fresh kale will also work)

1 green apple, peeled and chopped into bite-sized pieces (1/2 inch dice)

dash of balsamic

salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 400.  Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the quinoa and toast for about 2minutes. Add water, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer 16 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand for 10 minutes. Fluff the quinoa, spread it out on a baking sheet and refrigerate until it is chilled, about 20 minutes.

Toss squash in 1 tbsp olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Spread the squash out on a baking sheet and roast for about 25minutes tossing once during baking. Squash should be tender when done. Remove and let cool.

In a small bowl combine 4 tbsp olive oil with lemon juice. Put garlic through a garlic press and whisk into liquid with salt & pepper. Cover and set aside.

Combine cooled quinoa, squash, onion, apple, fresh greens and toss with olive-lemon juice dressing. Add cilantro and a dash of balsamic. Serves 4.

This recipe was inspired by one I saw in November’s Food & Wine magazine but I took many liberties with it including changing the dressing completely. 

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