A few days ago, Scott and I were enjoying breakfast in the middle of nowhere. Well, actually it was somewhere - but a fairly remote somewhere. We'd ridden our bikes about 7 miles along down one of our local greenways and were sitting on a park bench soaking up a bit of solitude. The area was wooded and peaceful with shafts of golden, early morning sun piercing through openings in the beautiful green canopy, high above us.
Suddenly, a sound in the distance startled me. Maybe it would be better to call it a clamor or even a squabble. But only took a moment before I recognized it and looked at Scott - "They're here!"
We looked up as the pandemonium got closer and sure enough, there was this season's first flock of Canadian geese, honking their way vociferously across the azure blue sky in a perfect "V" formation.
There are certain sights, sounds and sensations that, to me, herald the arrival of fall, despite the fact that here in the Carolinas, midday temperatures are still peaking in upper 80's and 90's. Crimson tipped trees, the familiar call of Canadian geese and cooler mornings are all undeniable signals of a new season in the making.
I had an idea for a new recipe, Golden Beet and Butternut Quinoa Salad
The same thing happens at the market; all of a sudden new seasonal produce begins appearing, produce that's been on the back burner for a long time. Earlier this week, I was in the produce department of a local grocery store and was thrilled to see a display of butternut squash. I thought "It's here!" I didn't hesitate to throw a nice one in my cart and, before I even left the store, I had an idea for a new recipe.
I tried a couple different renditions of my idea before I got it right, but I love the final outcome, and I think you will too. I'd also picked up a bunch of golden beets and decided to combine the two for a fun salad. Golden beets are delicious, a little sweeter and not as earthy tasting as red beets. I love that they don't stain your hands and/or whatever your combining them with. This Golden Beet and Butternut Quinoa Salad is a healthy and delicious way to celebrate the dawning of a new season!
I roasted both the beets and the butternut squash in the same pan, but each in their own foil packets, as the beets take a bit longer to soften. While the veggies were roasting, I had the perfect amount of time to cook up a perfect batch of quinoa which is the base for my salad.
If you think you don't like quinoa, it may be that you haven't cooked it right.
I was in that camp for a long time, thinking it was soggy and uninteresting. But then I discovered how to prepare it so that it's light as a feather, with each little individual grain separate and just plain delicious. Now I love it and use it in all kinds of recipes for healthy salads, sides and dinners. I'm so sold on this simple method that I did a tutorial on How to Make Perfect Quinoa.
I wanted to keep the salad fairly simple and let the beet and butternut flavors shine so the dressing is comprised of just olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
Finely chopped fresh rosemary and sage add fresh flavor and a bit of fall pizzazz. A handful of baby arugula and a scatter of creamy goat cheese are the final touches and give the salad beautiful visual appeal.
It's true, fall hasn't officially arrived yet, but it's definitely, "waiting in the wings"!
And all you have to do is look, listen and feel to see that, "It's coming!"
P.S. You might think that I have great knife skills to dice all those veggies so perfectly and also that I have lots of time on my hands. Nope and nope.
I have this wonderful little chopper that cuts all kinds of fruits and veggies (carrots, onions, cucumbers, zucchini, peppers, apples, pears, etc.) in seconds into a perfect uniform dice. It's inexpensive, can be thrown in the dishwasher and is very sturdy - believe me if it can chop butternut squash, it's sturdy!
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- 2 ½ cups diced golden beets 2-3 beets, if large, you'll only need two
- 2 ½ cups butternut squash
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 medium clove garlic finely minced
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 4 cups cooked quinoa*
- 3 tablepoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
- 1 ½ cups baby arugula leaves
- 2-3 ounces crumbled goat cheese
Preheat oven to 425.
Place beets and butternut squash on 2 separate pieces of heavy duty foil. Drizzle each with 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Fold up foil around veggies to make 2 small packets and place packets on a sheet pan. Roast for 15 minutes, then remove squash. Open squash packet to let steam escapte and set aside.
Continue roasting beets for another 10-15 minutes or until fork tender. How long the beets take to bake depends on the size of the dice. When tender, remove beets from oven, open packet and set aside to cool slightly.
Combine lemon juice and garlic in a small bowl or jar. Stir with a whisk or a fork. Slowly add olive oil in a slow, steady stream while continually whisking. Add salt and pepper and stir well.
Combine quinoa, butternut squash, beets and herbs in a medium-large bowl. Stir gently to combine. Drizzle with half of the dressing and stir again. Taste and add more salt and pepper, if needed.
Scatter arugula and goat cheese over the top of the salad. Serve warm or at room temperature. Pass extra dressing in a small bowl or cruet at the table.
* I like to used this method to make my quinoa. I comes out perfect every time and it's never soggy. Each little grain of quinoa stays separate. It makes 6 cups so you'll have some leftover for salads, soups or other meals.