After a very long hiatus (too long) Ryan and I had this salad last Tuesday night for dinner.

the recipe is under the Dense Dishes link.

we enjoyed it so much, that i wanted to do it again this week, but i wanted to change it up a bit.  the flavors are so good together, so i wanted to keep most of it the same.  instead of lettuce, i used quinoa.  and i added a few more ingredients to the dressing.

serves 2-3 as a main dish and 4-5 as a side.  (we had it as our main dish)
2 cups cooked quinoa*
2 cups butternut squash, 1/2" cubed
3 tbsp olive oil, divided 2 and 1
1/2 tsp salt, divided 1/4 and 1/4
1/4 cup raisins or another dried fruit like cranberries or cherries
1oz toasted walnut pieces
2oz goat cheese
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
juice from 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
pepper to taste

pre-heat oven to 400F.  place squash on baking sheet and drizzle with 2 tbsp oil and sprinkle with 1/4tsp salt.  roast for 30-40 minutes until it is tender and browned.  allow to cool.  make dressing by whisking together 1 tbsp oil, 1/4tsp salt, balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, lemon juice, and pepper.  combine cooked quinoa, squash, raisins, and dressing, and mix gently, but thoroughly.  divide among plates and top with walnuts and goat cheese. 

quinoa is definitely a super grain!  actually it is a seed in a botanical sense.  it has 5 grams of fiber and 8 grams of complete protein per cup (cooked).  and 15% of the DV for Iron.  i like to buy it in bulk, it tends to be cheaper that way.  you need to rinse it before cooking because it is covered in saponins, which is a "soapy" film that can cause a bitter taste.  sometimes you can find it pre-rinsed in a box.  here are some more fun facts...
  • it is a relative of beets, spinach, and chard
  • it comes in a variety of colors including the typical white/yellow and orange, pink, red, purple, and black
  • the leaves are edible, but difficult to find (i have never had the leaves!)
  • it is consider the "ancient grain" and was consider "the gold of the Incas" in south america
  • it is a complete protein!  yep that's right, it contains all the amino acids in the right proportions! so great for vegetarians and vegans!
  • it is a very good source of manganese, and a good source of iron and magnesium
  • it only takes 15 minutes to cook and i go by a 1 to 1.75 ratio of the seeds to liquid (most advise a 1-2, but i feel like i get a better result from 1-1.75)  so if you do one cup quinoa, do 1 and 3/4 cup liquid
  • it is suitable for celiac patients due to the absence of gluten
  • it can be used to make pasta (some natural food stores sell quinoa pasta)
  • it has a very low glycemic load, great for diabetic patients!
  • it is high in oxalate, so eat in moderation if you are on a low-oxalate diet or are prone to kidney stones!!!
  • it expands when it cooks just like rice, so one cup uncooked = about 3 cups cooked!  
  • it sounds like KEEN-WA

try to get a little bit of everything in each and every bite for the full flavor-blast experience!