Quinoa Salad with Garlic Roasted Butternut Squash, Feta and Caramelized Onions

by Jessica Randhawa in , ,


According to the weather forecast, Sacramento was suppose to get rain the past several days and all weekend long.  Well, It turns out these weather forecasters were mistaken since we have only seen a few drops of water fall from the sky. Aside from the fact that California really needs the rain, I'm not complaining.  

Since Octavian was diagnosed with mild pneumonia in the beginning of the week, our big outings were to run errands. By the end of the week we were both so bored of being home that I started creating excuses to run out and buy something.  Normally, this includes trips to the market for food to add to our overflowing pantry; however, this week my focus shifted to something much different.  Something much more dangerous.

Christmas presents.

More specifically, Christmas presents for Octavian.

Usually I try not to spoil him with presents, but, you guys, I can't stop.  I just can't.  And I'm ok with that.  Thankfully, as one friend pointed out to me, at least he's still little enough that he won't remember next year how spoiled he was this year.  Hopefully.

But, enough about my week of boredom and unnecessary shopping for my toddler.  

The gloomy weather got me thinking about food.  Whenever it rains I want soup; however, our gloomy gray sky got me thinking about a warm autumn salad.  Early this year I made a Quinoa, Butternut Squash and Cranberry Salad with Balsamic Dressing and I decided that's what I would make.

A warm quinoa salad.

However, the only two things this salad and the other salad have in common is the quinoa and butternut squash.  And this time I roasted the butternut squash with lots of garlic because, well, garlic makes everything better.  I caramelized the onions rather than simply sautéing them.  The key to caramelizing onions it time.  If you have the time, do it.  It offers so much amazing flavor to the dish.  If you don't, that's OK, too.  Just sauté the onions until they are soft and starting to brown.  I topped it off with earthy walnuts, tangy feta and sweet pomegranates.

No dressing required.

Yep, I give you autumn in a bowl.  It's seriously delicious!  You can keep it vegetarian or make it a more 'complete' meal by adding chicken.  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Quinoa with Garlic Roasted Butternut Squash, Feta and Caramelized Onions

Prep Time:  10 minutes  /  Cook Time:  50 minutes  /  Total Time:  1 hour


Ingredients

1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped into small cubes
Olive oil
salt and pepper
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp fresh sage, chopped
2 yellow onions, cut into thin slices
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/3 cup feta, crumbled
1/4 cup pomegranate arils
1 cup (uncooked) quinoa, cooked according to package instructions
Fresh sage, chopped (optional)


Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the cubed butternut squash with approximately 1-2 Tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper, minced garlic and fresh chopped sage.  Transfer and spread evenly over a large baking sheet.  Bake for approximately 30-40 minutes, or until squash is cooked completely and just starting to brown at the edges.  Remove from oven and allow time to cool before transferring to salad.
  3. While your butternut squash is baking, start your onions.  For an amazing step-by-step tutorial on how to caramelize onions visit Simply Recipes tutorial HERE, it's one of the best I've seen around.
  4. With the butternut squash, caramelized onions and quinoa cooked and ready, you can assemble the salad.  In a large bowl combine the butternut squash, caramelized onions and cooked quinoa.  Toss to combine.  Top with crumbled feta, chopped walnuts, and pomegranate arils. This salad also pairs well with French vinaigrette dressing and balsamic vinaigrette, however, add just before serving (personally, I did not add any salad dressing. The flavors were delicious on their own).
  5. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several days (without salad dressing).


Enjoy!