Fall flavors are so heartwarming.
It’s just now starting to get chilly here in NC. I love having a fire in the fireplace, apple cider on the stovetop, and pumpkins on my doorstep.
When the season of cozy sweaters and heavier blankets rolls in, so can the extra calories. It’s hard to avoid classic cool-weather recipes. Rich pastas, heavy sauces, creamy casseroles, and breads galore, Pinterest is filled with mouth-watering comfort classics that may satisfy your carb craving, but not your waistline. If you’re trying to stay fit for longer than just bikini season, have no fear. You can definitely enjoy the same comforting flavors and satisfying meals without the guilt.
I decided to experiment with this recipe a few nights ago when I knew the upcoming week was going to be a little hectic. I needed something that could hang out in my fridge, ready to eat and ready to go for a quick meal. A meal that wouldn’t feel like a “snack” – I wanted something hearty and delicious, and boy did I find it!
Just a brief recap on the supergrain that is quinoa:
- It’s one of the most protein-rich foods we can eat, containing all nine essential amino acids
- It contains almost twice the amount of fiber as most other grains
- It contains iron, which helps keep your blood cells healthy AND boosts your metabolism
Quinoa is also really delicious. It’s a fun ingredient because it will take on the flavor of whatever liquid you use to cook it in. This means quinoa can be savory, sweet, spicy, or citrusy. The options are endless! It’s good for side dishes, casserole bases, or even as a breakfast cereal. I like this particular recipe because it’s a quick and easy one-dish meal that doesn’t leave you feeling hungry an hour later. It’s also only 245 calories with 6 grams of protein per serving :)
Here’s what you’ll need:
2 cups of cubed butternut squash
Olive or canola oil spray
1 tablespoon of fresh rosemary, minced
1 teaspoon of course sea salt
1/4 teaspoon of pepper
1 cup of quinoa
2 cups of organic low sodium vegetable broth
1/4 cup of chopped pecans
1/4 cup of dried cranberries
1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup of olive oil
2 tablespoons of honey
1 pinch of cayenne pepper
1 1/2 cup of raw kale, roughly chopped
1/3 cup of feta cheese crumbles
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
On a sheet pan, lightly spray the squash with oil making sure to coat all sides. I love using spray oil (olive or canola) instead of drizzling oil when roasting vegetables because I know I’ll use a lot less and still get what I need.
Make a seasoning salt by combining the rosemary, salt, and pepper. Rub the mix between your fingertips to release the oils and flavors of the rosemary into the salt.
Coat the oiled squash with the salt mix and bake for 20 minutes, turning the squash over after ten minutes. Make sure the squash is in one layer.
While the squash is roasting, bring the quinoa and broth to a boil, and then simmer covered on low for 15 minutes.
Toast the chopped pecans to intensify their flavor and to add a little extra crunch to the salad. In a dry skillet over medium heat, shake the nuts around until they become fragrant and slightly darker in color.
Whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, honey, and cayenne pepper for about a minute to emulsify the oil. Add the dried cranberries allowing them sit in the liquid to plump them up a bit.
Let the squash, quinoa, and nuts cool slightly before tossing them together in the vinegar dressing. Once everything is combined, toss in the kale and feta cheese.
This tasty salad is filled with warm flavors of fall from the smokey cayenne pepper, the caramelized undertones of the roasted butternut squash, the sweet tart cranberries, and the buttery toasted nuts. I added feta cheese for extra creaminess that really brings all the ingredients together.
This salad contains about 6 generous servings and can be enjoyed hot or cold. Keep it stored in an airtight container in your fridge. It’ll last up to a week, but I can’t make any promises that it will stick around for more than a couple days.