Autumn Apple, Quinoa & Butternut Squash Salad
This is from our food blogger fan Priscilla Willis at shescookin.com
A satisfying autumn-inspired salad of warm quinoa tossed with crisp, tart heirloom apples, luscious butternut squash and an orange ambrosial vinaigrette.
Total time: About 1 hour Servings: 4-6
Orange Ambrosia vinaigrette:
1/2 cup orange juice, preferably fresh squeezed
2 tablespoons honey or agave nectar
1/3 cup Chaparral Gardens Winter Ambrosia vinegar*
1/3 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper
1. Whisk together the orange juice and honey and then the vinegar. Slowly whisk in the olive oil to emulsify. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until needed. This makes about 1 cup of dressing, more than is needed for the remainder of the recipe; the dressing should keep for about 5 days, refrigerated.
*Chaparral Gardens Winter Ambrosia Fruit Vinegar starts with fresh hand picked apples and pears grown on their Central California organic farm. I am in love with it and it’s a true seasonal treat for the holidays. White balsamic may be substituted. Clover or orange blossom honey is ideal.
1 cup roasted butternut squash, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 cups cooked Alter Eco Royal Black quinoa*
1 cup haricots vert, ends trimmed
1 large firm green apple*, peeled and cored and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup Swiss chard, ribs removed and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons Marcona almonds
Toasted sliced almonds, garnish
*Alter Eco’s Royal Black quinoa is organic with a wild, intense flavor and is the crunchiest of the quinoa varieties – red quinoa may be substituted. I used Roxbury Heirloom apples from Frieda’s Produce, Granny Smith’s are more readily available and can be substituted, but apples are in season so look around for an heirloom for a new taste experience!
To roast the squash and assemble the salad:
Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
Cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove seeds. Most instructions tell you to peel the squash first – I have a difficult time with this for some reason and prefer to cut the flesh from the peel after it has been roasted. Place on a sprayed rimmed baking sheet, cut side down. Roast for 45 minutes or until squash is soft when pricked with a fork. Remove from oven, after it has cooled you can easily remove the cooked squash from the peel with large spoon or by running a knife between the flesh and skin. Then cut into cubes.
Alternately, some markets carry already peeled/seeded/cubed squash for your convenience. In a medium bowl, toss the squash cubes with 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil and season with a pinch each of salt and pepper. Spread the cubes in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and roast until tender and golden, about 10 to 15 minutes, tossing every 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly, then set the warm squash in a medium bowl.
2. While the squash is roasting, prepare the quinoa according to package directions*.
3. Blanch the haricots vert or green beans. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the haricots vert and blanch quickly to bring out the color, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and drain the vegetables, then quickly shock in a bowl of ice water. Remove from the ice bath and set aside.
4. In a medium saute pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over high heat. Add the beans, cubed apple and Swiss chard together with one-fourth teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper. Saute, tossing frequently, until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes, adding one-fourth cup vinaigrette toward the end to deglaze the pan. Add beans, apple and chard to the squash in the bowl.
5. Toss the warm quinoa and Marcona almonds in the bowl with the squash. Dress with additional vinaigrette as desired and season to taste with salt and pepper. (Cook’s Note: Since my husband is on a salt restriction, I added no salt to the salad or vinaigrette and leave it to individuals to add at the table.)
6. Mound the warm salad on 4 plates, drizzling over additional vinaigrette if desired. Garnish with the toasted almonds. Serve immediately.
*The ratio of liquid to quinoa is similar to rice – 1 cup quinoa to 1 ½ cup liquid. For some reason I have purchased brands that direct you to use 2+ cups liquid – this results in soggy quinoa. Yuck. So, to be clear: bring 1 ½ cup water or vegetable broth to a simmer over high heat, stir in 1 cup rinsed quinoa Lower heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.