Quinoa with Roasted Butternut Squash

Discover the exotic world of ancient grains.  Quinoa, a protein-packed South American superfood (which is technically a seed) is easy to prepare and even easier to enjoy.  In this recipe its nuttiness pairs perfectly with roasted butternut squash dusted with cinnamon and cumin, tender cool-weather spinach and pecans.

Quinoa comes in colorful varieties – red, black and the more common beige, so whatever palette your palate prefers, consider adding some quinoa to your next meal.

This salad makes a great side dish, or a fully-satisfying vegetarian or vegan main course if you add a slice of cheese (a blue is nice) or one cup of cooked chickpeas.

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Instructions

  • 1. Preheat oven to 450°. Toss squash in mixing bowl with one tablespoon olive oil, salt, cinnamon and cumin.
  • 2. Place squash on rimmed baking sheet and roast in preheated oven until tender, about 20 minutes. Remove and set aside.
  • 3. Meanwhile, rinse the quinoa in several changes of water (this removes the natural coating that can cause a bitter taste).
  • 4. Fill a medium pot with water and bring to boil. Add rinsed quinoa and cook uncovered like pasta, until quinoa is al dente, about 10 to15 minutes.
  • 5. Remove from heat, drain, return to pot and cover for five minutes, then fluff with fork.
  • 6. While quinoa is cooking, caramelize onions. In a small skillet, heat one tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until soft.
  • 7. Add balsamic vinegar to the onions and continue to cook on low until onions are caramelized.
  • 8. Place spinach in a large mixing bowl. Add warm quinoa (this will wilt the spinach slightly), roasted squash, caramelized onions, chopped pecans, orange zest and chickpeas. Stir gently.
  • 9. Drizzle with an additional tablespoon of olive oil and orange juice, season with additional salt and pepper.
  • 10. Serve warm or at room temperature.