This time of year I'm saying my last farewells to summer lettuces, herbs and vegetables and begrudgingly welcoming cold weather staples back into my produce drawer.
My reluctant autumn salad is composed of squash (local, inexpensive and plentiful) that is cubed and roasted, spinach (julienned to tame it's toughness), thinly sliced red onion and nutty red quinoa. A douse of spicy buttermilk dressing gives this some lushness and keeps it from being too virtuous.
I used acorn squash which is a BEAST to cut into cubes (the rind is thick and tough) but has such good flavor and holds up well under high heat roasting.
And red quinoa because I've had a bag sitting in the cupboard for six months staring at me in judgement when I reach for the white flour, pasta or chocolate chips.
This dressing is nothing without pimenton - I use this spice a lot.
Leftovers....I'm the only one in my house who eats them. Today, I don't mind.
Quinoa Squash Salad with Buttermilk Dressing
Serves 2 for meal or 4 as a side
1 acorn squash (or similar) peeled, seeded and cut into one inch cubes1 cup quinoa, cooked according to package instructions*
1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced (you can soak in ice water to tame)
2 cups spinach, cut into strips
1. Preheat oven to 400º
2. Toss squash cubes with 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Spread out on a sheet pan (or two) making sure not to overcrowd (otherwise squash will steam and get mushy). Roast for 30 minutes, tossing one or twice, until brown and tender. Cool.
3. Combine all salad ingredients and drizzle with buttermilk dressing.
* I toast my quinoa in a hot pan with a little olive oil before boiling to bring out more flavor.
1/4 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons mayonnaise or sour cream or plain yogurt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sherry vinegar
1/2 teaspoon pimenton/smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1. Whisk everything together until smooth and chill until ready to use.