Monday, November 19, 2012

Butternut Squash and Beet Quinoa Salad

Some 20 years ago I cooked my very first Thanksgiving, and from that day forward my collection of family favorites evolved into a menu that has remained almost constant for the last few years.  This year however, I daringly changed things up and thankfully was met with resounding success. 

With our schedules somewhat of an issue, Liv Life celebrated our 2012 Thanksgiving last Friday with a simple family affair featuring most of my traditional dishes plus a little something new.  Bringing in my latest obsession, quinoa, was a bit risky.  The kids have not been as receptive to quinoa as I would have hoped, and as their vegetable eating habits (like my husband's...) are also a touch, shall we say, lacking, adding two of my other favorites, butternut squash and beets, to the quinoa added even more risk.

Roasting the vegetables with drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of oregano, the house took on the aroma off autumn in no time.  The beets turned a beautiful crimson red as they roasted, while the butternut took on hues of brilliant pumpkin.  Enhanced with chunks of onion, the veggies were tempting enough to eat on their own, however tossing them with quinoa and arugula added the protein/flavor punch I was looking for.

Dressing the concoction with a simple oil and white balsamic vinegar combo brought a delightful tang, and the sprinkle of pomegranate contrasted beautifully with the savory flavors.  Feta and walnuts added additional texture, and the only other thing needed was a fork.

Beautifully jeweled hues had the salad looking the epitome of autumn, but it was the mixture of flavors and textures that had me weak at the knees.

My Dad's eyes lit up at the list of ingredients, however the rest of the family hesitantly scooped small servings next to their traditional mashed potatoes and turekey.  Dad and I gushed about the dish, and keeping my eye on everyone else, I was thrilled to see nearly everyone reach for the new dish for a larger helping after their initial tastes.

A perfect Thanksgiving dish that can be made ahead of time, this healthy addition is one you can feel good about serving whether your meal is simple or formal.  Flavorful and filled with textures, my only advice is to make extra... it also makes a fabulous day after Thanksgiving breakfast.

Jeweled Quinoa Salad
Chunks of creamy roasted butternut squash and tangy roasted beet combine beautifully with a simple oil and white balsamic vinegar dressing for an easy, healthy and extraordinarily flavorful side.

1 cup butternut squash, cut into small chunks
1 cup peeled beets, cut into small chunks
1/2 cup chopped onion
1-2 Tbs olive oil
1 cup dry quinoa
1/2 tsp oregano
2 cups water
2 Tbs good quality olive oil
3 Tbs white balsamic vinegar
1 handful torn arugula
salt and pepper to taste
pomegranate arils
crumbled feta

Preheat oven to 400ºF.

Place squash, beets, and onion on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil.  With your hands, toss the vegetables to coat, sprinkle with salt and pepper and place into the oven for about 25 minutes, or until tender.  Check at the 15 minute point and stir.

As vegetables are roasting, place 2 cups of water into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.  Measure the dry quinoa into a mesh strainer and rinse.  Place quinoa into the water and reduce heat.  Cook according to the directions on the side of your package.

When quinoa is done, remove from heat and allow to cool.

Remove vegetables from the oven and allow to cool.

Combine the vegetables and about 3/4 of the cooked quinoa, stirring gently to combine.  Add a handful or two of arugula.  Drizzle with olive oil and white balsamic vinegar and stir again to combine.  Chill until ready to serve.

When ready to serve, sprinkle with pomegranate arils and crumbled feta.


  1. What a wonderful dish. We would love this!!

  2. I LOVE salads made with quinoa and roasted veggeis!Just did a butternut squash + kale one this week and have been loving it for lunch.
    The pomegranate in your salad is a lovely, festive touch. This would be beautiful on any Thanksgiving plate!

  3. That sounds and looks amazing -- I love the combination of flavors in this. YUM! Can't wait to try it.

  4. Did you know that if you put your right hand in the wrong position on the keyboard, gorgeous comes out gurgeiys? Just thought I'd share.

    I love the look of this salad and the ingredients that go into making it. If I had the squash, and beets, and quinoa, and probably arugula, oh and feta, and pomegranate, I'd totally make it for Thanksgiving dinner. But I've shopped and those things weren't on the list. Bummer. :(

  5. I'd totally make it for Thanksgiving dinner. But I've shopped and those things weren't on the list. What a wonderful dish, like this!!

  6. What an interesting dish. I've never had those ingredients together but I do love each of them so it looks appealing!

  7. This looks amazing Kim! Totally right up my alley.

  8. What a beautiful salad! This would make an incredible side dish for the upcoming holidays.


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