Warm Butternut Squash Salad With Crispy Chickpeas

This warm butternut squash salad calls for quinoa, crispy chickpeas, citrus zest and fresh mint.

Quinoa was cultivated by the Incas and has seen a dramatic comeback in recent years, hailed as a nutrient-dense superfood, high in protein and fiber. But if you’re still puzzled by the ancient grain — which actually is a seed — 500 Best Quinoa Recipes (Robert Rose, 2012) by Camilla V. Saulsbury is a comprehensive resource for those who want to learn the basics. Even those already versed in the versatility of quinoa will find a wide array of interesting new recipes, from breakfast dishes to desserts.

Quinoa also is gluten-free, making it a popular option for those with celiac disease. All recipes in the book can be made without the inclusion of gluten, and those ingredients that are not naturally gluten-free, such as vegetable broth and soy sauce, have notes to opt for the gluten-free versions if needed.

The recipes span the globe, from those that hearken back to quinoa’s roots — Andean breakfast hash and Peruvian chicken sopa de quinoa, for example — to dishes from around the world: African quinoa and groundnut stew, chicken stir-fry, bulgogi pork with quinoa kimchi slaw and chipotle quinoa and black bean tacos. Desserts include apple custard pie, pumpkin quinoa cookies and quinoa gingerbread.

Below is a recipe that combines fall flavors of cranberries and butternut squash with Indian-spiced chickpeas, citrus and fresh mint. As we noted in VIV Says, it can make an excellent holiday dish for gluten-free guests.

Warm Butternut Squash Salad With Crispy Chickpeas
Makes 4 main-dish or 8 side-dish servings

1 large butternut squash, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 can (14–19 ounces) chickpeas, drained, rinsed and patted dry
2 teaspoons mild curry powder
1½ teaspoons garam masala
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Fine sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
3 cups cooked red or white quinoa, cooled (see instructions below)
2/3 cup dried cranberries
½ cup packed fresh mint leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest
¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
6 cups packed baby arugula leaves

1. Preheat oven to 400° F.

In a large bowl, combine butternut squash, chickpeas, curry powder, garam masala, and 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Spread in a single layer on a prepared baking sheet. Roast in preheated oven for 35–40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until squash is tender and chickpeas are crispy. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes.

2. In a small bowl, combine yogurt and 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice.

3. In a large bowl, combine the squash mixture and quinoa. Add cranberries, mint, orange zest, orange juice, the remaining oil and the remaining lemon juice, tossing gently to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

4. Arrange arugula on a large rimmed platter or in bowls. Spoon quinoa mixture on top. Drizzle with some of the yogurt mixture and serve the rest on the side.

Preparing Quinoa
Virtually all quinoa that reaches consumers in North America and Europe has already had the saponin (a bitter substance to protect from insects and birds) removed. Nevertheless, it is important to give quinoa seeds a brief rinse before use, to remove any saponin residue that may remain after processing. Place the quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer and rinse thoroughly under cold water for 30–60 seconds. This ensures that the cooked quinoa will have a delicately sweet, pleasant flavor.

The Pasta Method
The easiest way to cook quinoa is to boil it like pasta. This method is particularly good for individuals who detect residual bitterness from the quinoa saponins. It is not necessary to rinse the quinoa before using this method.

Fill a large pot with water, add salt if desired and bring to a boil. Add the desired amount of quinoa and cook for 10–13 minutes or until tender. Drain the quinoa through a fine-mesh sieve. Return the quinoa to the still-warm pan (off the heat), cover and let stand for 2–3 minutes. The moisture in the cooked quinoa will steam it slightly, producing a light and fluffy texture.

If using this method to prepare quinoa for a salad, do not return the drained quinoa to the pan. Instead, rinse it under cold water until cooled. Shake the sieve to remove as much water as possible, then transfer the quinoa to a bowl and fluff with a fork.

NUTRITION SCORE (per serving, 4 servings)
525 calories
Fat 19 g (2 saturated)
Carbs 85 g
Protein 16 g
Fiber 14 g
Calcium 320 mg
Iron 6.7 mg
Sodium 308 mg

Excerpted from 500 Best Quinoa Recipes by Camilla V. Saulsbury © 2012 Robert Rose Inc. www.robertrose.ca Photos by Colin Erricson. All rights reserved; May not be reprinted without publisher permission.