This is one of my favorites salads and it is great for warmer weather. A wonderful dish to bring for a pot luck or picnic, it is also great cold for lunch the next day. It takes a little work to assemble but it will stay in the fridge for several days and is well worth the effort (so yummy!). It is also easy to substitute ingredients in this salad -- see list below for suggestions. Serves 8
1 cup quinoa rinsed well (the tri-colored quinoa looks nice in this salad)
3 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 medium sweet potato or butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/3 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
4 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (or more to taste)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds or other fruit of choice (see below)
4 scallions, sliced
Preheat oven to 400ºF.
Place the quinoa into a small saucepan and add 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 15 minutes, or until the water is evaporated. Turn off the heat and let quinoa sit covered while preparing the rest of the salad.
Place the sweet potato (or butternut squash) cubes into a roasting pan and toss with 1/2 tablespoon of the olive oil. Bake for 25 minutes, or until you can just pierce the cubes with a fork. Set aside.
Place the pumpkin seeds into a small pan (no oil) over medium heat until lightly toasted, stirring often. Set aside.
In a small bowl, place the remaining three tablespoons olive oil, vinegar, honey salt, pepper, cumin and cinnamon. Whisk well.
When use a fork whisk to fluff the quinoa and place into a large bowl. Add half the vinaigrette and mix. Add the sweet potatoes, pumpkin seeds, pomegranate seeds and scallions and rest of the vinaigrette and mix gently. Serve at room temperature or delicious cold for lunch or breakfast!
There are MANY variations that work well with this salad. Some suggestions include:
Quinoa substitutes: faro, barley, wild rice, brown rice
Sweet potato/butternut squash substitutions (or additions) include roasted carrots, edamame, chickpeas, corn, black beans, white beans, zucchini, kale, spinach or even raw options such as red onion, red cabbage, sweet bell peppers or cucumbers
Pumpkin seed substitutions: sunflower seeds, pine nuts, pistachio, almonds, pecans, or walnuts
Pomegranate substitutes include: dried apricots or golden raisins. I generally steer clear of dried cranberries because of the added sugar but if you like them they would be tasty in this dish.