Butternut Squash. It doesn’t get any more autumnal than that. I used to shy away from this stuff because I was introduced to squash in the form of an under-seasoned and fibrous puree. But it doesn’t have to be that way. With the right amount of salt (and I like to add a touch of honey), roasted butternut squash is off the charts.
Once again, I figured I’d use my friend quinoa to be the blank canvas at which I threw haphazard splatters of seasonal flavors. Apples and Walnuts seemed to be perfect additions to this concoction.
As you can see in the pictures, I was a total idiot and cut my squash in half from top to bottom, i.e. from the stem to the base. The shallow, boat-hull-esque halves proved to be very difficult to peel. For a less awkward experience, cut your squash in half along the equator, so that you have two cylindrical halves with flat surfaces on which they can sit happily and securely on the counter. Shave down the sides with your knife all the way around the cylinder to cut away the tough peel. Then you can remove the seeds.
I chopped the flesh into a small dice and tossed it with some salt, pepper and olive oil in a bowl. Pour it into a roasting pan and bake in a 350⁰ oven for about 30 minutes, until the small cubes are fully cooked through (you don’t want “al dente” squash). Taste one to make sure it’s right. I dumped the squash into a bowl when it was still warm, and tossed it in some more salt and a little bit of honey. I like the honey to go directly on the warm squash. Then you can add your chopped walnuts and thyme.
To cook quinoa, rinse the kernels under a faucet in a sieve before putting them in a pot. Add twice as much cold water as your measured quinoa (I did ½ cup of quinoa to 1 cup of water). Bring the pot to a boil, and then turn the heat down to a bare simmer and cover the pot. When all the water evaporates (10-12 minutes later), your quinoa will be fluffy and ready to go.
Throw the quinoa in with your squash. When you’re ready to serve, dice up an apple and toss it in a splash of apple cider. The cider keeps the apples from going brown right away. Then throw the apples (and the cider) in with your squash and quinoa.
Check it for seasoning—Mine didn’t need any more salt, but make sure yours is just right! This salad is best served slightly warm.
- Half a butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into small cubes
- Oil, salt, and pepper for sprinkling
- 1 tablespoon of honey
- 1 tablespoon freshly chopped thyme
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup of quinoa
- 1 cup of chopped walnuts
- 1 apple, cut into small cubes
- A splash of apple cider