I’ve heard a lot of people say they think it’s easiest to eat well in the summer… After all, there is a wide variety of fresh produce readily available and we are all supposed to just whip up a salad for lunch and dinner every day. I don’t know about you, but that’s not generally how it works at my house. Sure, we certainly eat our share of veggies throughout the summer, but I am much more likely to use that fresh, local lettuce to garnish a cheeseburger than I am to whip up a giant dinner-sized salad. Salad really isn’t my thing.
Strangely enough, I actually find that I tend to return to healthier meals in the fall. Part of it is that I enjoy cooking in the fall… It’s much more fun to stand in front of the stove when it’s no longer 100 degrees outside. I also love the flavors of fall produce. I could eat butternut squash pretty much all day long. I also find that I develop more of a taste for hearty whole grains in the fall. While I’m still not always reaching for the lettuce (though, I do like the fall mixes of lettuce better than giant heads of leaf lettuce), I tend to make a lot of vegetarian dishes that are full of whole grains and veggies.
On a chilly day not too long ago, I decided to put together a nice warm salad for lunch (have I mentioned that I also prefer warm food to cold food?). I started with some butternut squash from our garden and decided to pair it with quinoa. For a dose of some green, I wilted some arugula (one of my favorites) into salad. Topped off with a quick Balsamic dressing, some walnuts, and gorgonzola cheese, I had a hearty and flavorful salad that both my hubby and I enjoyed. Perhaps it’s just me, but I think this kind of salad beats a bowl of lettuce and cold veggies any day.
Roasted Butternut Squash and Quinoa Salad
Makes 4 servings
- 3 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 cup quinoa
- 1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 2 cups (packed) of arugula
- Crumbled gorgonzola cheese
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Toss the butternut squash with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Transfer to a baking sheet (lined with parchment or aluminum foil, if you like) and season with salt and pepper. Roast the squash for about 45 – 50 minutes, until it is soft and slightly caramelized.
When the squash is just about done, combine the vegetable broth and quinoa in a large skillet over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil for 5 minutes. Then, remove the pan from the heat, cover, and let rest for 15 minutes.
While the quinoa rests, whisk together the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and the Balsamic vinegar to make a quick dressing. Once the quinoa is ready, pour the dressing over the quinoa. Add the roasted squash and walnuts, and toss to evenly mix the ingredients. Add in the arugula and stir to wilt slightly. The quinoa should still be warm enough to wilt the arugula just a bit without adding any additional heat. If not, turn the heat to low and cook just enough to wilt the arugula (you may need to add a tablespoon or two of water, as well, to keep things moist).
Serve immediately, while the salad is still warm, topped with crumbled gorgonzola cheese.