Ok, you may be thinking that there is no winter in Tucson, but in my defense I started making this recipe when I lived in Montana, and trust me, there is definitely a winter in Montana! You can really make this dish anytime of the year, but squash and kale always make me think of the winter time. I started making this dish last winter when I started experimenting with a gluten and dairy free diet to help with some stomach issues I was having. We were getting invited a lot of holiday parties and potlucks and I was always worried that there would be nothing for me to eat there. This salad was great because not only did everyone else love it as much as I love it, but if I was ever in a situation where this salad was the only gluten-free dish at the party, it was enough to fill me up and satisfy me for the evening.
The first time I made this salad I happened to have half of a butternut squash left over and a few sweet potatoes on hand, so I used half the butternut squash and one sweet potato. You can also feel free to use only butternut squash or only sweet potatoes, whatever suits your fancy!
- 1 whole butternut squash, 2 sweet potatoes, or 1/2 butternut squash and 1 sweet potato
- 1 cup dried quinoa
- 1/2 red onion
- 5 – 6 cups kale, about the size of a small bunch
- 1/2 cup walnuts
- 1 – 2 handfuls dried cranberries
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- Salt and pepper
- Olive oil
- Cook the quinoa according to instructions on box.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Peel butternut squash and/or sweet potatoes and cut into bite size pieces.
- Place onto a sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Make sure all the pieces are coated and put into the 400 degree oven.
- Bake for about 1/2 hour, flipping half way though ( a little less time if you are only using sweet potatoes).
- Cut onion into thin slices, lengthwise.
- When the squash/potatoes are ten minutes from being finished, throw the onion slices onto the sheet pan and toss with squash/potatoes.
- Rip kale into bite size pieces and place on a sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, toss to coat.
- Place kale into the 400 degree oven and bake for about ten minutes, flipping once.
- Toast walnuts for a few minutes until you smell them, either on a sheet pan or on the stove. One toasted, chop into small pieces.
- In a large bowl, mix together: quinoa, butternut squash/sweet potatoes, kale, onions, walnuts, and cranberries.
- Add two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, (or more or less depending on your love of it!).
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Enjoy warm or cold!