We went to Green Spark Farm in Cape Elizabeth on the hunt for organic pumpkins to continue our gastronomic celebration of fall in general and October in particular. They had beautiful examples of a variety of squashes. One of the tastiest is their Golden Acorns: sweet, smooth flesh, perfect for roasting. Even though pumpkin is the inspiration for this dish, substitute any yellow or orange firm-bodied squash. There is flexibility in making this salad your own: add more or less of the currants, walnuts, squash, quinoa… you get the idea!
If you’re making bacon for breakfast or BLT’s for lunch, drain the excess fat and use the baking pan to roast the cubed pumpkin: 15 – 20 minutes at 350 F or until it’s browned on the outside and just past “al dente” on the inside.
Fall Quinoa Salad with Roasted Pumpkin
1 cup quinoa (red, if you can find it)
2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
2-3 medium carrots, chopped fine
1 large stalk celery, chopped fine
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1/2 cup firmly packed chopped fresh carrot greens or parsley
1/4 cup firmly packed chopped fresh oregano leaves
1/4 cup firmly packed chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 cup finely chopped toasted walnuts (raw are fine if you don’t want to take the time)
2/3 cup dried currants, (cranberries are a great substitute if you’re making this for Thanksgiving.)
2 cups cubed oven roasted pumpkin or Golden Acorn Squash
1 cup finely diced roasted chicken meat (optional)
1/2 cup Butternut Squash Seed Oil
1/4 cup red balsamic vinegar (I used one infused with cinnamon and pear)
1 clove or fresh (minced) garlic or roasted garlic (optional – a roasted clove will be almost a paste.)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1. Rinse the quinoa in cold water. Boil 2 cups of salted water, add the quinoa, return to a boil and cook on low for 20 minutes. Set aside uncovered to cool while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
2. Chiffonade , or chop the kale finely; place in a large serving bowl.
3. Add the carrots, scallions, celery, fresh herbs, walnuts, dried cranberries, and chicken if using.
4. Measure the lemon juice and olive oil into a 1 cup glass measuring cup. Add the garlic, zest, salt, and pepper. Whisk to blend and pour over the ingredients.
5. Add the roasted pumpkin cubes. Toss to distribute and coat evenly. Cover and Chill or Serve immediately at room temperature.