Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad

Quinoa is all the rage right now.  Why?  It is packed with iron, fiber, protein, and it’s gluten-free.  It is light, yet still hearty.  How is that possible?  You can use it in salads such as this, or make it for breakfast in place of oatmeal.  I haven’t tried that, but I’ll let you know when I do.  You can find quinoa almost everywhere now.  I purchased a box at Trader Joe’s….it was even organic.  It is reminiscent of couscous, but it’s not even in the grain family.  I read where it is in the rhubarb family?  That threw me, too.

This Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad is adapted from a salad that I had at an open house at a Dailey Method studio.  Have you ever heard of it?  Check it out at www.daileymethod.com.  I take classes there every now and then so that I can eat more.  It’s a great workout!  Now, back to the salad. The owner of the studio made a salad like this at the open house she was having.  I absolutely loved it.  I did not get the recipe, but she told me it had a honey vinaigrette in it, so I went from there.

I have to tell you, I’m crazy about butternut squash.  Mostly I roast it, make soups with it, or eat it in ravioli.  Now I use it in salads.  I actually enjoy peeling and chopping the butternut squash when I have time.  When I don’t, I buy it already pre-chopped.  Trader Joe’s and most supermarkets sell it, which is a huge time saver.  I thought this salad needed candied walnuts so I made some, only to find it was sweet enough without it because the vinaigrette is somewhat sweet as well..  I think toasted walnuts would work best, and that’s what I’m going to use next time.  If you like things sweet, you can find the candied walnut recipe here: Dawn’s Candied Walnuts.

Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad
 
Prep time
Cook time
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This Butternut Squash Quinoa salad is hearty, healthy, and even gluten-free! It's got quinoa, flavorful butternut squash, and scallions to make it savory, and golden raisins and candied walnuts to make it sweet. It's all tossed in a maple vinaigrette. This is one satisfying side dish!
Serves: 8-10 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ small butternut squash peeled, seeded, and cut into ½" chunks, or (1) package pre-chopped butternut squash cut into ½" chunks (should be about 2 cups once cut into ½" chunks)
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • ½ cup toasted or candied walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Instructions
  1. Place butternut squash in a large pot and fill it with water until the squash is completely covered. Place the lid on and bring pot to a boil over high heat until the water comes to a boil. Remove the lid and reduce heat to medium, cooking at a gentle boil until squash is fork tender but not mushy, about 15 min.
  2. While squash is cooking, prepare quinoa according to package directions. When all of the water has been absorbed, remove from heat and pour into a serving bowl. Cool slightly.
  3. Rinse and drain butternut squash. Add the squash, golden raisins, and scallions to the quinoa.
  4. Prepare the dressing. In a small bowl, combine maple syrup, rice wine vinegar, and salt with a whisk. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until it is emulsified. Pour over the quinoa mixture and stir until well-combined.
  5. Top with the toasted or candied walnuts.
  6. To toast walnuts, place in a large skillet and cook over medium heat 8-10 minutes or until fragrant. Careful....these burn quickly!