Warm Quinoa, Butternut Squash and Kale Salad with Easy Maple Candied Pecans
If I didn’t have about a million things to do right now, I swear I could spend hours looking at this salad! Aren’t the colors the prettiest?! I particularly love red ingredients, like cranberry or pomegranate. They look like precious stones and make me want to dig right in! Is it just a food nerd thing, staring and admiring food? Alright, it probably is but I’ve given up a long time ago on being normal so just ignore me and carry on! 🤓
This recipe would be perfect for your holiday gatherings (hello fancy but easy!) or anytime during fall or winter really! It makes good leftovers so perfect for lunch too 🙂 Enjoy!
Cal: 516 - Protein: 9.3g - Fat: 21.6g - Carbs: 78g - Fiber: 9.6g - Sugar: 13.8g
- 3 cups cooked quinoa or 1 1/2 cups uncooked quinoa
- 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash (I used the pre-cut ones to save time)
- 1 tsp sweet paprika
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 to 3 packed cups of kale, stems removed, chopped
- 3/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup red onion, chopped
- 3/4 cup pecans
- 1 tbsp pure maple syrup
- a pinch of sea salt
- 1/4 cup fresh orange juice (from about 1-2 oranges)
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- freshly cracked pepper
- sea salt
- If you don't have cooked quinoa, start with that. Place quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer and rinse thoroughly with cool water for at least 2 minutes. Drain. Rinsing quinoa before cooking will remove its natural bitter or soapy taste. Transfer to a saucepan, cover with stock, cover with a lid and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for 15 minutes on the lowest setting. Turn off the heat and let stand covered for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside. (This will make a little bit more cooked quinoa than what you will need for the salad).
- Prepare the candied pecans. Prepare a sheet of baking paper on your kitchen counter. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium- high heat. Place the pecans in a single layer and toast until fragrant. Always keep an eye on the pecans because they can burn very quickly. When the pecans are toasted, add the maple syrup and a pinch of salt, and stir to coat the pecans. Cook for an additional 30 to 45 seconds, stirring constantly to make sure it doesn't burn. Spread the pecans on the prepared baking sheet and let cool.
- Heat olive oil in a non-stick skillet. Add butternut squash and paprika. Season with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste. Stir to cover the squash with the spice. Cook on medium heat until brown on the outside and soft on the inside, about 10 minutes. When they are almost ready, stir in maple syrup and finish cooking. From now on, stir gently to make sure the squash doesn't end up mashed.
- Add kale and cook until wilted, about 5 minutes.
- Add 3 cups of cooked quinoa, stir and cook until warm.
- Turn off the heat and add dried cranberries, red onion and candied pecans.
- In a small bowl, whisk together orange juice and olive oil. Season with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste. Drizzle over warm salad, toss and serve immediately.
If making this salad ahead, add the dressing at the last minute. Quinoa will soak up all the moisture.