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Warm Quinoa, Kale & Delicata Squash Salad + Orange Balsamic Vinaigrette

American Thanksgiving is around the corner, so I thought I would show solidarity to my dear American friends and post a Thanksgiving-worthy dish this week.

This salad would be lovely addition to a Thanksgiving or Holiday table, but it’s amazing on pretty much any other occasion. This is the type of dish I could eat over and over. I just can’t get enough of it. In fact, I believe I’ve done about 4 variations of it in the past two weeks, switching ingredients here and there according to my mood. It’s just too good.

This salad is a marriage of the most wonderful fall flavours: roasted delicata squash, kale and cranberries, finished with the perfect complement: a lovely orange and balsamic vinaigrette. I love all squashes, but delicata is certainly one of my favourites. It’s naturally sweet, it becomes incredibly soft and tender once roasted, and the fact that you can actually eat the skin makes it even more attractive. No need to peel it. Super convenient and super tasty. What’s not to love.

Warm Quinoa, Kale & Squash Salad + Orange Balsamic Vinaigrette // The Green Life

Warm Quinoa, Kale & Squash Salad + Orange Balsamic Vinaigrette // The Green Life

Warm Quinoa, Kale & Squash Salad + Orange Balsamic Vinaigrette // The Green Life

This is the first quinoa salad I post here on this blog, which is surprising considering the amount of quinoa I eat in my daily life. Quinoa is a staple in my home and always comes handy whenever I’m preparing a last-minute dinner. Throw some quinoa in your dishes and you suddenly get a delicious, filling and highly nutritious meal.

Quinoa is a gluten-free grain, although it’s technically not a grain. It’s a seed, or what is referred to as a pseudo-cereal. It has a delicate fluffy texture and a slightly sweet nutty flavour. Quinoa is a must in vegetarian and vegan diets because it’s a great source of protein. It contains all nine essential amino acids, and is therefore considered a complete protein. Quinoa is also a great source of fibre, B vitamins, antioxidants, and important minerals including manganese, copper, magnesium, phosphorus and iron. It’s a true nutrient powerhouse!

I usually like to cook a big batch of quinoa on the weekend when I prepare my meals for the week and use it throughout the week in various recipes.

Warm Quinoa, Kale & Squash Salad + Orange Balsamic Vinaigrette // The Green Life

Warm Quinoa, Kale & Squash Salad + Orange Balsamic Vinaigrette // The Green Life

Warm Quinoa, Kale & Squash Salad + Orange Balsamic Vinaigrette // The Green Life

Warm Quinoa, Kale & Squash Salad + Orange Balsamic Vinaigrette // The Green Life

Warm Quinoa, Kale & Squash Salad + Orange Balsamic Vinaigrette // The Green Life

Note: This salad can be served as a side dish, but it is filling and nutritious enough to be enjoyed as a main.

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Warm Quinoa, Kale and Delicata Squash Salad + Orange Balsamic Vinaigrette

Servings 4 -6

Ingredients

Roasted vegetables:

  • 1 large delicata squash
  • 4 shallots
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Quinoa salad:

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa I used a mix of white and black, both anyone will do
  • 1 bunch kale stems removed and finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries or dried cherries
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds toasted
  • 1 avocado pitted and diced

Orange Balsamic Vinaigrette:

  • 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp fresh orange juice the juice of about 1/2 large orange + 1 tbsp orange zest
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 green onion finely chopped
  • Pinch of sea salt

Instructions

Roast the vegetables:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Start by slicing the squash into about ½ inch thick rings. Using a knife or a spoon, scrape the seeds out of each of your squash slice. (Don't throw the seeds away. They make a wonderful snack when roasted with spices and a little bit of oil).
  3. Now peel the shallots and slice them into quarters. Place the squash rings and shallots together on the lined baking sheet. Brush the vegetables with coconut oil, making sure to coat both sides. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Roast for 20-25 minutes, until squash is browned and a fork pierces through easily, flipping squash slices half-way through.

Make the vinaigrette:

  1. Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl. Set aside.

Prepare the quinoa:

  1. Place quinoa into a fine-mesh strainer and rinse thoroughly under running water. Drain.
  2. Place quinoa in a medium saucepan with 2 cups of water and a pinch of sea salt. Bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, llower heat and cook, covered, for 15 minutes until the quinoa has absorbed all the water.
  3. Remove from heat and let sit, covered, for 5 minutes.
  4. Transfer the quinoa into a large salad bowl. Add the chopped kale and about 1/3 cup of the dried cranberries. Pour about 3/4 of the vinaigrette, keeping a small amount aside. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Assemble:

  1. To serve, place the quinoa and kale mixture on a large serving plate. Top with the squash slices, roasted shallots, remaining cranberries, avocado dices, and toasted almonds. Drizzle the remaining vinaigrette on top and serve immediately.

Trust your intuition. It never lies.

Warm Quinoa, Kale & Squash Salad + Orange Balsamic Vinaigrette // The Green Life

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