This salad is what I think of as a vegetarian (vegan even) all-in-one holiday dish. It’s colourful and festive. It’s got some traditional components and some less traditional.The bitterness of the Brussels sprouts is nicely balanced by the sweetness of the roasted squash. The dressing is sweetened with a bit of maple syrup and scented with a hint of cinnamon. The quinoa supplies protein, without making the dish heavy. Parsley (that we’re still harvesting fresh from the garden) adds the vibrancy of fresh herbs and pumpkin seeds a little crunch as well as more nutrients.
Eating colorful food is certainly uplifting (especially now when any remaining color in nature quickly drains away) but it’s also smart from the nutritionist’s point of view: differently colored foods contain different vitamins and minerals and combining them in a meal makes for a balanced diet.
I have already made this salad several times, perfecting the dressing, and it’s become a dangerous contestant to my other winter favorite: wild rice and winter squash salad. But, of course, I don’t have to choose, I can love them both.
Brussels sprouts, butternut and quinoa salad
700 g (1 ½ pounds) butternut squash (I used half of our largest squash)
1 tbsp olive oil
450 g (1 pound) Brussels sprouts
200 g (1 cup) red quinoa
½ tsp salt
50 g (1/3 cup) pumpkin seeds
small bunch of parsley, coarsely chopped
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp maple syrup (or honey)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius (400 F).
Peel the squash and remove the seeds. Cut the squash into 1,5 – 2 cm (½ – ¾ inch) cubes. Toss the cubes with 1 tbsp olive oil and a little salt and pepper. Spread the squash in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven until done, about 20 minutes, turning the squash cubes halfway the baking time.
Meanwhile, cook the Brussels sprouts and quinoa. Trim the Brussels sprouts and halve them if large. Boil them until done but still firm, about 8 to 10 minutes. Rinse the quinoa in a fine-meshed strainer. Put it in a medium saucepan and add 1,5 cups water. Cover, bring to a boil and let simmer for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the quinoa stand covered for another ten minutes.
To make the dressing, finely chop the shallot. In a small bowl, stir the shallot together with the vinegar. Let stand for at least ten minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
In a large bowl, mix the still slightly warm quinoa with the dressing, so that it can absorb the flavors. Add the roasted squash, Brussels sprouts and chopped parsley and stir gently to combine. In a heavy-bottomed pan, roast the pumpkin seeds until they begin to “pop”. Scatter them on top of the salad. Serve at room temperature.