Friday, November 20, 2009

Acorn Squash and Red Quinoa Harvest Salad

I am not too sure if you have heard of Quinoa , I discovered this amazing super grain a few years ago and I am completely obsessed. Apart for the amazing health benefits , supergrain , complete vegetarian protein , has all the amino acids our body requires ............. it is just so darn tasty .
Last weekend I was asked to cater for a christening brunch, as I discussed the menu details , a must have in my books was Quinoa . It is autumn , it is close to thanksgiving , it is also a tad chilly and I needed no excuse to make this delicious dish. 

In its entirety I named this dish Acorn Squash and Red Quinoa Harvest Salad  , some acorn squash was baked in the oven with apple cider and I thought this was the perfect bed and contrast for the quinoa salad.

I usually prepare the quinoa the day before and let it sit overnight in the fridge , I just find that it tends to become fluffy and separates easily. Just like rice which always tastes much better when it has "rested" in the fridge overnight . I am not a vegetarian,  so some prociutto was added at the last minute - but if you wanted to keep this dish 100% vegetarian I recommend some crumbled feta or goat cheese just before serving .

So here goes the recipe , and original GG recipe inspired by the season and thanksgiving . It can easily be halved - but please do not write to me with regrets !!

Acorn Squash and Red Quinoa Harvest Salad
served 12-16 people

1 packet Red Quinoa or 2 cups Quinoa
2 tblsp olive oil
2 handfuls Brussel Sprouts
2 stalks Celery
4 green onions
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
fresh thyme 2-3 sprigs
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
1 small tin water chesnuts
1 1/2 cups apple cider
1 cup dried cranberries
8 slices prociutto (optional)
feta cheese or goat cheese (optional)

2 acorn squash
1 cup apple cider
1 tsp cinnamon
1 pinch nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
olive oil
unsalted butter

Cook Quinoa according to package directions.

Clean outer layers of brussel sprouts and then slice in half , lenghtways then each half into 4 pieces . Clean and slice celery on a diagonal , approx the same size as the brussel sprouts .

Heat some olive oil in a non stick pan , add brussel sprouts and saute until they turn a light green colour , then add the celery some salt and freshly ground pepper . Saute until the vegetables just start to soften . Meanwhile chop the red and yellow peppers into chunky squares, slice the green onions on a diagonal and drain and rough chop the water chestnuts . Add all these ingredients to the pan and stir until combined and the peppers barely start to soften . You need to just take the rawness out of the peppers .

Season again with salt and pepper and DO NOT overcook at this point or the brussel sprouts will become bitter . Check for seasoning and adjust if necessary.

Remove from pan and add to the cooked and cooled quinoa. Toss to combine - it should very colourful .

Add the craisins and the apple cider into the saucepan and bring to a boil , then simmer for about 3 minutes until the craisins soften and the cider has reduces ever so slightly . Add this to the quinoa salad. Toss to combine.

Meanwhile preheat the oven to 400F , place the prosciutto slices onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and bake until it becomes crispy . Keep an eye on the time as each oven varies - should take about 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Also, clean and slice the acorn squash ( do not remove the peel) into 1 inch thick slices , saute slices in a combination butter and olive oil then place in an oven proof dish . Place rest of ingredients in a cup and mix well , then pour over the squash and bake until slightly brown and cooked through .

When all is done and cooled , get out your best platter , arrange the squash in an artful manner on the platter , then pile the quinoa salad mix on top then garnish with either crumbled prosciutto or feta/goat cheese .

Enjoy !


  1. Dear Gourmet Goddess, I just saw your post on the harvest salad and jumped at the chance to make it. I love quinoa and I'm always looking for interesting ways to cook it. I made it as a side dish for Sunday lunch with the family and it turned into the main dish. It was a hit! Keep the recipes coming! Thanks.
    "Clueless in the Kitchen"

  2. Dear Clueless in the Kitchen , I am so happy you tried the recipe, it has been an outstanding success and a hot recipe in my catering repertoire !