Sunday, November 25, 2012

Autumn Inspired Quinoa Waldorf Salad with Butternut Squash and Pecans (vegan, gluten free)

"Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns."
             ~George Eliot

To celebrate Autumn, here is a new take on Waldorf Salad. It incorporates butternut squash, a wonderful Fall vegetable and some autumn herbs like sage. It's also a healthy alternative and is very light on the dressing. If you want it creamier, feel free to double the dressing. The salad is vegan and uses quinoa as the main source of protein. Although, if you have leftover turkey from Thanksgiving, feel free to add it!

This was made for a surprise party for a very special person who is very dear to me. The party was a potluck so I brought one salad and one dessert. This could potentially serve a dozen or so people (it's potluck size) so halve it and store the rest in the fridge if you are only feeding a couple of people.

There was lots of love, laughter and dancing (the cutting-the-rug, hand-jiving and heel-tapping kind) at the party. Which paired perfectly with this salad which is filling but also light.

Autumn Inspired Quinoa Waldorf Salad with Butternut Squash and Pecans
2 cups quinoa
3 apples (I used granny smith for that delicious tart sensation)
1 heart of celery
1 cup dried cranberries
2 cups butternut squash, cubed (about 1/2" cubes)
3/4 cup pecans (or walnuts)

Salad Dressing:
1 1/2 tsp sage
1/2 tsp thyme
1 1/2 cup unsweetened plain yogurt (I used soy but feel free to use coconut milk yogurt or regular yogurt if you can or choose to eat that)
2 Tb Dijon mustard
Juice of one lemon
3 Tb olive oil
Dash of nutmeg (I use freshly grated)
Sprinkle of Salt

1. Cook quinoa according to package directions (I add to boiling water and simmer for 30 minutes or so).
2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and bake the squash for 30 minutes or until cooked, tossing halfway through.
3. Dice the celery and apple. (I like my celery small but apple chunks big but cut them according to your wishes. Also to keep apple from browning, add extra lemon juice to a bowl of water and soak apples in after cutting).
4. Chop dried cranberries and pecans.
5. Mix all the ungredients for the dressing and set aside.
6. Combine all the salad ingredients in a large bowl. Stir. Then add salad dressing and mix until completely incorporate. Serve cold or at room temperature.

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