I made this recipe for our annual New Year's Eve party so it is big enough to serve a crowd, but it can be cut down easily since the amounts do not need to be precise. I wanted to try something new and since I love all the winter squash and root vegetabes at this time of year I decided to start there. The experimental part was the dressing: I made a vinaigrette flavored with garam masala and cardamom and sweetened slightly with maple syrup. A little fresh mint stirred in at the end added some brightness to the dish.
When you cut all the vegetables, make them small enough to be bitesize, but not so small that they get shriveled when roasted. I roasted the beets separately because I find it so much easier to slip the peels off once roasted than to peel them raw. Roasting them in their skins also keeps them nice and moist. You can substitute delicata squash for the butternut of you like - this would be a good idea if you want to do a smaller batch since delicata are much smaller than butternut. Another great thing about delicata squash is that you do not need to peel it - the skin is quite tender once it is cooked. If you use delicata, cut the squash into rings and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds before roasting.
QUINOA WITH ROASTED VEGETABLES
1 bunch chiogga beets
1 bunch yellow beets
1 small butternut squash
6 purple carrots (regular carrots can be substituted)
6 small shallots
coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 package red quinoa
a handful of mint leaves, finely chopped
for the dressing:
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
pinch ground cloves
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Heat over to 425°. Scrub beets and trim stems. Wrap in aluminum foil (I did 2 packets with 6 beets in each) and place on a sheet pan. Roast in the oven for about an hour, or until beets are easily pierced with a knife. Set aside until cool enough to handle. Using a paper towel wipe skins from beets. This step may be done the day before if desired but bring to room temperature before adding to the quinoa.
Remove peel and seeds from butternut squash and cut into small chunks. Scrub carrots and cut into small chunks. Remove papery skins from shallots and cut into halves or quarters. Toss the vegetables with olive oil and salt and pepper and roast for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown and tender. The exact cooking time will vary depending on the size of your veggies.
While the vegetables are roasting, cook the quinoa according to the package directions. Make the dressing by combining all the ingredients except the olive oil in a blender and whir to combine. While the blender is running slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream until emulsified. Taste and adjust seasoning with more salt if needed. Cut the roasted beets into bitesize pieces and add to the quinoa. Add the roasted carrots, squash and shallots to the bowl and toss with half the dressing. Continue adding dressing until the salad is moist and flavorful -- I had about 1/4 left over for another day. Stir in finely chopped mint just before serving. This salad may be serve hot or at room temperature.