Thursday, October 7, 2010

Warm Quinoa Salad with Roasted Squash and Pecans

There has been a change of plans!

Yesterday I promised a way to heat up a cold dinner situation, but I'm going to have to disappoint.  I promised my pal J the recipe below, so hot, hot, hot dinner is postponed until Sunday night.  Please come on back then!

Anyway, today's recipe began with a change of plans, too.  J invited me to cook dinner with her at her abode.  I was in charge of bringing a recipe and ingredients.  Perfect!  I thought.  I'd been wanted to make this farro salad recipe for months.  On my way to J's house, I swung by the grocery store to pick up the food stuffs.

I checked out the ingredient list as I meandered the aisles.

"Farro, covered in cold water and soaked overnight."  Dang.  That was not happening for dinner in 45 minutes.  Good thing I had half a box of quinoa left over from Quinoa with Corn and Black Beans.  I'd have to use farro another time.

"Delicata squash."  Hmmm.  How about butternut squash?  They carry that one.

"Pomegranate seeds." Uh, no.  I am NOT about to spend 30 minutes peeling that sucker just to stain my shirt with those naughty red seeds.

"Fuyu persimmon."  WHAAAAAT?!  I'm pretty sure that's a cuss word someone snuck into the recipe.  I'll skip it.

"Feta cheese."  After all these changes, I'm just gonna use goat cheese.  I like it, that's why.

In this case, the change of plans worked out in my favor, because the resulting recipe was real good.  Hope you enjoy!

Warm Quinoa Salad with Roasted Squash and Pecans
Serves: 6-8

1 1/2 cups quinoa
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and diced small (about 1 3/4 cups)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon shallot, finely chopped
1/4 cup olive oil, plus extra for roasting squash
1/3 cup pecans, lightly toasted and chopped
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup dried apricots, roughly chopped
3 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cook quinoa according to package directions.

Meanwhile, ready all other ingredients.  Toss the squash cubes with 1-2 tablespoons olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Transfer to a baking sheet (lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil for easy clean up) and roast in the oven for about 15 minutes until spotty-brown, caramelized, and tender, stopping once halfway through to flip the squash with a spatula.  (We diced our squash quite small, about 1/4", so if yours is in larger pieces, you'll need to increase the roasting time.)

In a small bowl, whisk together the balsamic and apple cider vinegars and shallot.  In a steady, slow stream, whisk in the olive oil until blended.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Drain the cooked quinoa.  Place the quinoa in a serving bowl along with cooked squash, pecans, parsley, cranberries, and apricots.  Pour the dressing over the salad and toss.  Add the crumbled goat cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Toss again gently.  Serve over a bed of arugula if desired.  Or just stuff your face as quickly as possible.

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