by Francesca Patterson
Days are getting shorter and the weather is playing tricks with us this week. The air has acquired that smoky tinge of fall as the summer crops are heading out. As sad as it may seem to lose the rainbow of summer tree fruit, they are making room for the comforting and satisfying apples and squashes that are showing up in all shapes and colors. Last week I focused on the long and stripey Delicata squash, but this week I want to hone in on the true queen of comfort foods: Butternut squash. It’s one of the most popular fall squashes, and can be found used for soups, pasta fillings, even as a main ingredient for baby food. This is because it’s known for it’s a creamy texture, naturally sweet taste, and for it’s plentiful nutrients. Loaded with calcium, vitamin B & C, potassium, and a healthy amount of dietary fiber, there’s no question why this is one of the most commonly eaten varieties.
As someone who advocates for seasonal eating, I have to admit that I have been making this fall salad year round. Using Norman’s fresh butternut squash is a treat that I don’t always get to take advantage of, but this recipe is just so delicious that in the past I couldn’t wait for fall. This one is always a big crowd-pleaser, even with picky eaters and kids, because it is equal parts sweet, savory and warm. It truly does taste like the perfect fall dish. This is a simple one to assemble and transport or store for your weekly meal prep. Truthfully, the most tedious part of this recipe is prepping the squash and onions. Once prepped, the rest is just thrown together and set to chill. Save the leftovers in a glass container as the flavors will taste even better the next day.
1 large butternut squash (seeds removed, skin peeled, chopped)
1 cup quinoa (I use tricolor, normal will work just fine)
1/3 cup red onion (diced)
3 tbsp toasted pumpkin seeds (I use candied pumpkin seeds from My Organic Market)
1/3 cup dried cranberries
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper
- Parsley (for garnish, optional)
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp honey
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- Dash of salt and pepper
- 1 clove of garlic (minced)
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Arrange chopped butternut squash in a single layer on a lightly greased baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper over the squash and bake for 40 minutes.
- While squash is baking, make the quinoa. Boil 1.5 cups of water with a dash of olive oil and salt. Add in 1 cup of quinoa, reduce heat to simmer, and cover with a tight lid. Cook quinoa for 20 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. After cooked, allow quinoa to cool with the lid off.
- In jar with a lid or a large mixing bowl, mix together the ingredients for the dressing. Once fully combined, set this aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine cranberries, pumpkin seeds, cooked butternut squash, red onion, and quinoa until thoroughly integrated. Fold together gently while pouring the dressing until it is saturated. Garnish with chopped parsley. Place the salad in the fridge for about 15 minutes before serving to allow flavors to set. Keeps in the fridge for 3-4 days.