Even though I've already made and eaten my Thanksgiving meal back in October, that doesn't mean that I can't take advantage of the well stocked aisles in my local grocery store. Bright and colorful squash, ruby red cranberries, sprouts, carrots, everything you could possibly imagine to make the prettiest Thanksgiving meal around. I assume that the aisles will stay stocked until Christmas. We will have our choice of acorn, spaghetti, butternut, or delicata squash from now until then. I'm tempted to pick up a couple bags of cranberries, just to store in the freezer for baking, due to their lack of availability come February. I love this time of year, the availability of food, so warm and comforting, providing much more than just calories.
I wanted to prepare something simple for those of you who have opted out of a big Thanksgiving event this year, for a handful of good reasons like enjoying some gold old fashioned relaxation, the avoidance of a mountain of dishes and hours of prep, and awkward interactions. I completely respect you and your decisions. Also, for those of you in other parts of the world, in that same situation as myself, already dined on a feast of tubers and sprouts, and for those of you celebrating Thanksgiving this weekend, this salad is a great accompaniment to your feast. This warm salad-y type dish is a celebration of some pretty amazing Thanksgiving-esque flavors. Is it just me, or do you also feel that whenever a squash is roasting, no matter what the dish, the room and surrounding area quickly becomes a bit more intensely delicious in smell? I am completely besotted with delicata squash this time of year. I roast it and eat it as a side with everything, and unlike its cousin the acorn squash, with its tough skin and difficult to cut inner flesh, it is a complete dream to prepare.
To make things a bit more colorful in my kitchen, and on my plate, I like to combine my white and red quinoa, to create this glorious combination that feels a bit Christmas-y. To add more flavor to the quinoa, I cook it in a simple vegetable broth. This method adds so much flavor, it really completes the dish. I choose to use some lacinato kale as a 'green base', and after a quick fry in some oil to soften up the leaves, it works well. The roasted delicata squash and carrots, caramelize in the oven, becoming extraordinarily sweet and tender. With a sprinkle of cranberries, because a festive meal just isn't complete without some sort of cranberries. And to finish it off, a generous pour of a sweet orange, maple, soy vinaigrette, my fancier version of gravy. I've been eating this salad for the past few days, and I have not grown tired of the repetitiveness, yet.
KALE AND QUINOA SALAD WITH DELICATA SQUASH AND A MAPLE ORANGE DRESSING
serves 2 as a main
1 delicate squash, sliced
5 carrots, cut lengthwise
2 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup of quinoa
2 cups of vegetable broth
1 bunch of kale, chopped
1/4 cup of dried cranberries
1 orange, sliced and squeezed
1/4 cup of olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp soy sauce
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 425ºF.
Wash the delicata squash, cut lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds and stringy bits. Place the squash halves, cut side facing down, and sliced into half moons. Place onto a baking sheet. Wash the carrots, trim off the stems, and slice lengthwise. Place onto the baking sheet with the squash and drizzle with 1 1/2 tbsp of olive oil and toss to coat. Bake for 40 minutes, flipping the squash every 10 minutes.
While the vegetables are roasting, rinse 1 cup of quinoa a few times, to remove any bitter flavors. Place into a medium saucepan with the vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat and cover. Simmer for 20 minutes, or until all of the broth has absorbed. Set to the side.
Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Wash the kale and pat dry. Cut into large pieces, removing any tough stems. Fry the kale for one minute, gently tossing in the oil. Set to the side.
Combine the orange juice, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup and soy sauce in a bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Add the vegetables, kale, quinoa, and dried cranberries to a large bowl. Drizzle enough dressing on top to evenly coat, and then toss. Store leftover dressing in the fridge for up to a week.