Friday, November 19, 2010

Butternut Squash, Arugula and Goat Cheese Quinoa

Last week I had the most amazing salad at Watt's Grocery. It was followed by a great entree and Billy Elliot at DPAC (Durham Performing Arts Center), all worthy of note and praise and all that. But instead, I want to focus on that absolutely delicious salad. Roasted butternut squash, spiced pecans and goat cheese all tossed with mixed greens and balsamic vinaigrette. Sweet and spicy and tangy all at once, it was a perfect mix of fall flavors. Both my mom and I loved this salad so I'm pretty sure it will be making an appearance at our Thanksgiving table as a new addition this year. It just goes to show how simple but great ingredients can combine to make something wonderful.
Because I couldn't get this delicious salad out of my head, I decided to recreate some of its flavors but in a new way for a meal. Rather than mixing the ingredients on top of salad greens, I decided to use quinoa (clearly one of my favorite grains) as the base and then toss in arugula to wilt with the heat of the cooked quinoa and squash. The wilted arugula acts as the "salad" part of the meal and adds a slightly peppery taste to the sweet butternut squash and the tangy goat cheese. The balsamic vinegar pulls everything together like a salad dressing would. I didn't happen to have any nuts on hand, but some toasted walnuts or pecans would be great on top. Serve as a meal or alongside of a piece of chicken or fish for a healthy, easy dinner.

Butternut Squash, Arugula and Goat Cheese Quinoa (serves 2 for dinner or 4 sides)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes (about 3 cups chopped)
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water or chicken stock
  • 4-5 cups arugula (about 4 big handfuls)
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 oz goat cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup walnuts or pecans, toasted (optional for garnish)
Preheat oven to 450˚F.
Spray a cookie sheet with nonstick spray.
Toss butternut squash with about 1 tbsp olive oil (possibly less, just enough to coat) and season with salt and pepper. Spread in one layer on cookie sheet.
Roast butternut squash for 20-25 minutes, until fork tender.
While squash is roasting, combine quinoa and water or stock in a saucepan. If using water, season with 1/2 tsp salt. Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until liquid is absorbed.
In a large bowl, combine cooked quinoa, butternut squash, arugula, 1 tbsp olive oil, balsamic vinegar and crumbled goat cheese. Season with a pinch more salt and pepper. Toss well to mix everything and wilt arugula.
Serve immediately, garnished with toasted nuts, if desired.

For a printable recipe click here

Butternut Squash, Arugula and Goat Cheese Quinoa

1 comment:

  1. We loved this! The mix of flavors was fantastic. Can't wait to have left-overs for lunch.