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Kale and Quinoa Salad with Delicata Squash and a Maple Orange Dressing

Posted Nov 27 2013 1:14pm
Even though I've already made and eaten my Thanksgiving meal back in October, that doesn't mean that I can't take advantage of the well stocked aisles in my local grocery store. Bright and colorful squash, ruby red cranberries, sprouts, carrots, everything you could possibly imagine to make the prettiest Thanksgiving meal around. I assume that the aisles will stay stocked until Christmas. We will have our choice of acorn, spaghetti, butternut, or delicata squash from now until then. I'm tempted to pick up a couple bags of cranberries, just to store in the freezer for baking, due to their lack of availability come February. I love this time of year, the availability of food, so warm and comforting, providing much more than just calories.

I wanted to prepare something simple for those of you who have opted out of a big Thanksgiving event this year, for a handful of good reasons like enjoying some gold old fashioned relaxation, the avoidance of a mountain of dishes and hours of prep, and awkward interactions. I completely respect you and your decisions. Also, for those of you in other parts of the world, in that same situation as myself, already dined on a feast of tubers and sprouts, and for those of you celebrating Thanksgiving this weekend, this salad is a great accompaniment to your feast. This warm salad-y type dish is a celebration of some pretty amazing Thanksgiving-esque flavors. Is it just me, or do you also feel that whenever a squash is roasting, no matter what the dish, the room and surrounding area quickly becomes a bit more intensely delicious in smell? I am completely besotted with delicata squash this time of year. I roast it and eat it as a side with everything, and unlike its cousin the acorn squash, with its tough skin and difficult to cut inner flesh, it is a complete dream to prepare.

To make things a bit more colorful in my kitchen, and on my plate, I like to combine my white and red quinoa, to create this glorious combination that feels a bit Christmas-y. To add more flavor to the quinoa, I cook it in a simple vegetable broth. This method adds so much flavor, it really completes the dish. I choose to use some lacinato kale as a 'green base', and after a quick fry in some oil to soften up the leaves, it works well. The roasted delicata squash  and carrots, caramelize in the oven, becoming extraordinarily sweet and tender. With a sprinkle of cranberries, because a festive meal just isn't complete without some sort of cranberries. And to finish it off, a generous pour of a sweet orange, maple, soy vinaigrette, my fancier version of gravy. I've been eating this salad for the past few days, and I have not grown tired of the repetitiveness, yet.

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