Saturday, February 6, 2021

Winter Quinoa Salad

This healthy salad is bursting with flavors and full of winter flavors like roasted butternut squash, apples, cranberries, and toasted almonds.  Topped off with an amazing cider vinaigrette this salad will have you doing a happy dance!

Winter Quinoa Salad

How do you get the flavors of winter but still keep a dish light?  Try this Winter Quinoa Salad for one!  It's bursting with good ingredients such as quinoa (an ancient grain), sweet and roasted butternut squash, juicy tart apples, tart cranberries, a little greens and toasted almonds for crunch and you have one heck of a salad. But wait!  It's not over until you add wrap it all in this amazing cider vinaigrette.  Heaven on a plate!

This is my version of comfort food in a salad.  I made this the other day to go along with some indoor grilled chicken and I must say the salad was better than the chicken!  It's the perfect side dish to go along with any type of protein, or along with a sandwich at lunch time.  Make sure to try this dish soon.  It's easy to make and the best part is it tastes soooo darn good!

Good uses for this salad?

  • Side dish with any protein for dinner
  • Side dish with sandwiches for lunch
  • Picnics or Potlucks
  • Brunch
  • Movies in the park
  • Picnic concerts

What Ingredients do I need?

  • quinoa
  • butternut squash
  • apple
  • green onion
  • fresh spinach
  • dried cranberries
  • slivered or sliced almonds
  • apple cider vinegar
  • olive oil
  • shallot
  • dijon mustard
  • honey

Substitutions and Variations

  • Use a lemon vinaigrette
  • Use sweet potato instead of butternut squash
  • Add dried cherries, or apricots
  • Use kale instead of spinach
  • Use another grains such as, long grain and wild rice, Israeli couscous, farro, or barley
  • Add pepitas, sunflower seeds, or leave out the nuts
  • Pick your favorite apples, or use a pear

Kitchen Tips and Notes

  • Use left over roasted butternut squash or roast ahead of time and allow to cool
  • This is beast made ahead so that everything cools to room temperature before serving.
  • Best served at room temperature but may be served cold.
  • Will keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
  • Buy already cubed butternut squash for easy prep.

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Winter Quinoa Salad

serves 6-8

1 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cups butternut squash, cubed
1 large Envy apple, diced
1 green onion, sliced
2 cups fresh spinach, rough chop
1/3 dried cranberries
3 Tablespoons slivered or sliced toasted almonds

2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
6 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 small shallot, minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard 
1 teaspoon honey
pinch of salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Place cubed butternut squash on a roasting pan and roast for 20-25 minutes until golden brown, turning once.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile in a saucepan add to 2 cups of water and bring to a boil.  Rinse and drain the quinoa in a mesh drainer.  Add to the boiling water along with a pinch of salt.  Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 15 minutes.  Check the quinoa.  All the water should be absorbed.  Remove from the heat, fluff with a fork, and allow to cool to room temperature.

Prepare the vinaigrette.  In a small bowl add the vinegar, shallot, mustard, honey, and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Slowly add the olive oil while whisking.  Whisk until emulsified.  Set aside.

In a large bowl add the quinoa, butternuts squash, apple, green onion, spinach, cranberries, and almonds.  Stir to combine.  Add the vinaigrette and stir to combine.  Serve.

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