the taste space

Quinoa and Butternut Squash Spinach Salad with Cranberry and Pear

Posted in Salads by janet @ the taste space on May 4, 2010


Alas, I was getting ready to write my post about my love of Alphonso mangoes, but figured I should shed my winter meals first before jumping headfirst into spring and summer dishes. With a balmy 15C this morning on my way to work on my bike, I am happy as a peach.. sweet as a mango?

One of my favourite things to eat in the winter is butternut squash. Or buttercup squash. Any squash, really. When roasted, they are incredibly sweet and work well with many sweet and savoury flavours.

For this dish, adapted from Lou Seibert Pappas’ A Harvest of Pumpkin and Squash, the savoury side of a butternut squash is combined with cinnamon- and sesame-laced quinoa mixed with cranberries and pear. This is laid on a bed of welcoming spinach and topped with a balsamic vinaigrette.

It was a weird and interesting combination of flavours. If I were to remake it, I think I would omit the soy sauce and sesame oil, to keep the flavour palate more simple, highlighting the cinnamon and allspice. Otherwise, the flavours are my typical fall favourites: cranberry, squash and cinnamon. Not that it will stop you from making it during other seasons…. although I agree you may get distracted by the mangoes. :)

This is my submission to Ricki and Kim’s SOS Kitchen Challenge, featuring sweet or savoury natural vegan cooking highlighting spinach this month.

Quinoa and Butternut Squash Spinach Salad with Cranberry and Pear

2 cups butternut squash or pumpkin, diced into ½-in. (1.25-cm) pieces
1/2 cup quinoa
1-1/2 cups water
2 tsp soy sauce (I think this should be omitted!)
1 tsp sesame oil (I think this should be omitted!)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 Comice pear, halved, cored and diced into ½-in. (1.25-cm) pieces (I used a Bartlett pear)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
3 tbsp olive oil
roasted walnuts, chopped into small pieces
2 cups spinach or arugula

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Spread squash pieces over a greased or aluminum foil-lined baking sheet and roast squash at 30-40 minutes, until tender when pierced with a fork.  Let cool.

2. In a medium saucepan, combine the quinoa, water, soy sauce, sesame oil, cinnamon, allspice, and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to low, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Let cool almost to room temperature. Gently fold in the squash, pear and dried cranberries.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard and olive oil. Spoon over the quinoa mixture and toss lightly. Serve the salad warm or chilled sprinkled with walnuts and spinach or arugula.

Serves 4.

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2 Responses

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  1. Ricki said, on May 4, 2010 at 9:53 PM

    Stunning salad! And I think it’s safe to say yours is the FIRST submission to the SOS Challenge–within 12 hours of my post going up! Wow. :) I love quinoa and butternut squash, too, and the bed of spinach looks like the perfect foil. I think I’d go with you and omit the sesame/soy next time, too, though. Thanks for this great submission!

  2. [...] have cooked with quinoa before, but I had had issues with it in my pre-blogging days. You need to wash it thoroughly before you [...]


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