Salad Days of Fall: Kale-Quinoa Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash

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Are you ready to welcome fall? As the weather cools you might crave delicate leafy salads less, but it’s the perfect time for grain salads. Quinoa, besides being quick-cooking and versatile, is not a true grain but a seed, and is actually a botanical relative of beets and chard. It carries a nutritional mark of distinction for being a “complete protein” — meaning it contains all the amino acids our bodies need. This salad combines this nutritious base with vibrantly hued fall vegetables — the roasted butternut squash is a great source of carotenoid antioxidants, the kale is a fantastic source of vitamin K, fiber, calcium, iron, folate and antioxidants, and the pomegranate seeds are little jewel-like accents which add bursts of juicy flavor and are also a great source of antioxidants, fiber and vitamin C. So this is a perfect salad for those of you who are vegan, vegetarian or simply trying to clean up your diet by eating more plant-based foods. To your health!

Kale-Quinoa Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash

Servings: 8
Ingredients

2 cups butternut squash, peeled and cut in 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
Freshly ground black pepper and salt, to taste
1 cup raw quinoa
2 cups water, salted with a pinch of salt
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons honey or maple syrup
2 cups kale, center rib removed, cut into small pieces
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 cup pomegranate seeds (from 1/2 to 1 whole pomegranate)
1/2 cup roasted pistachios, chopped

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 450 F.
2. Toss butternut squash with 1/4 cup olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Place on a lined baking sheet and roast in preheated oven for about 20 minutes, turning once. Roast until al dente, then cool.
2. Rinse quinoa in a fine mesh sieve to remove bitter residue. Cook quinoa in boiling salted water for about 30 minutes, drain and rinse, then spread onto a baking sheet to cool.
3. Prepare the dressing: whisk together vinegar, honey (or maple syrup) and remaining 1/4 cup olive oil.
4. Rinse and dry kale and place in a large bowl. Gently “massage” for a minute with your hands until the leaves become slightly wilted.
5. Add cooled quinoa and butternut squash to the bowl and toss with dressing, then top with pomegranate seeds, scallions and pistachios. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste and toss to combine. Serve at room temperature.

Nutrition Information (per serving)

Calories: 288
Fat: 18 g
Protein: 5 g
Sodium: 15 mg
Sugar: 5 g

Note: This is a recipe I first presented as part of my whole grains cooking demo at Foster City Library.  I’ve resurrected it for the latest site where I am sharing my recipes, the Food for Health blog hosted by my new employer, Kaiser Permanente, where I am the new Director of Culinary Medicine in San Francisco.  Check out the site for more healthy recipes from me and others at Kaiser.  To your health!