The super-organized cooks among us are already planning their Thanksgiving menus. Of course, the turkey remains the centerpiece, and most families demand that certain holiday favorites show up on the table each year.
There is always room, however, for something new. Butternut squash is a staple, often making an appearance as a seasoned puree or a creamy soup, but this pumpkin-colored vegetable lends itself to other preparations.
Paired with cooked quinoa, red onion and cranberries, butternut cubes are tossed with olive oil, lemon juice and a touch of maple syrup as a colorful salad. The dish can be served hot, at room temperature or chilled, depending on the cook’s taste preferences.
If served cold, the salad can be prepared a day in advance, freeing up time in the kitchen on Thanksgiving day.
Butternut Squash and Quinoa Salad
4 cups diced butternut squash, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 12-ounce package quinoa
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup diced red onion
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup maple syrup
Salt and pepper to taste
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the diced butternut squash and simmer until squash is fully cooked, about 7 to 8 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the squash from the water and set aside.
Return the water to a boil, add the quinoa and cook for 12 to 15 minutes or until the quinoa is fully cooked. Drain quinoa and set aside.
Heat the 1 tablespoon oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the red onion and cook until lightly browned. Mix in the dried cranberries and the pumpkin seed and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the orange juice and cook until pan is dry.