October in New York is my absolute favorite time of year to cook. The green market is full of robust, dark leafy greens, sweet winter squash, sweet corn and peppers. It’s chilly enough outside to welcome the warmth from veggies roasting in the oven inside, yet not too cold for a room temperature salad like this one.
This fall it seems like the red peppers are sweeter and thicker fleshed than ever. I love them roasted with their skins on which, I think is the simplest way to prepare them. Once roasted, they can be stirred into anything from soups and stews to salads and pastas; or even used as a grain topping.
This super-simple salad is nothing new, but the combination tasted delicious, especially as the autumn afternoon sun flooded the kitchen.
Autumn quinoa salad
Any vegetable you have on hand can be roasted for this salad. You could also add lots of chopped parsley instead of the kale. Since all the components of this salad are so flavorful — roasted vegetables, caramelized onions and marinated kale — you don’t really need a dressing. I usually just season to taste after mixing it all together.
1 cup quinoa, soaked 8 to 12 hours
1 ¼ cup filtered water
½ a medium butternut squash, peeled and cut ¾ inch dice
3 medium red peppers, seeded and cut in 1 inch pieces
2 red onions, thickly sliced
2 teaspoons naturally fermented mirin
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, plus more to taste
8 Lacinato kale leaves, thinly sliced
Juice of half a lemon
2 teaspoons unpasteurized apple cider vinegar, plus more to taste
Toasted pumpkin seeds to garnish, I used Austrian pumkin seeds, picture below.
Drain and rinse quinoa. Drain again and place in a small pot. Add filtered water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, cover pot, lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside while you roast the vegetables
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Place squash on one tray and peppers on the other. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil over each tray and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper. Toss the squash until evenly coated with oil and repeat with the peppers.
Place in the oven and roast for 30 to 35 minutes. Stirring and rotating trays half way through roasting. Remove from oven and set aside.
In a skillet over medium heat. Warm 1½ tablespoons of olive oil and add onions. Allow onions to brown a little before stirring. Add a pinch of salt and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring every minute or so. Remove from heat and stir in mirin and balsamic vinegar.
Place the kale in a medium bowl and add a pinch of salt, lemon juice, cider vinegar and 2 teaspoons olive oil. Mix well, massaging the kale until it begins to wilt.
Place the cooked quinoa in a large bowl and fluff with a fork, stir in the caramelized onions. Add the roasted squash, peppers and marinated kale. Toss to combine and taste for seasoning, you may want to add a little more vinegar, salt and pepper. Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds and serve.
Serves 4 to 6
Printable recipe here.