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Quinoa Salad with Roasted Pumpkin, Arugula and Cranberry

Recently, quinoa has become one of our favorite foods. It is effortless to cook and there are many different recipes and ways to make it. Sometimes it is enough just to put some olive or coconut oil and pinch of salt and have it as a side dish, or be creative and dig through fridge and pantry shelves and create something like this Quinoa Salad with Roasted Pumpkin, Arugula and Cranberry.

Like buckwheat, amaranth, quinoa is also called a pseudograin, or pseudocereal, because they come from broadleaf plants. This gluten-free grain has many health benefits. Quinoa has almost twice the fiber of other grains and keeps you feeling fuller longer. It has a tremendous protein and amino acid profile compared to other grains, containing all essential amino acids. Quinoa is high in magnesium and riboflavin, which help to keep blood vessels clear and healthy. It has high levels of antioxidants that can neutralize free radicals.

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Sprouting quinoa will increase the level of antioxidants making them more nutritious. This lowers the phytic acid level, which binds with minerals and reduces the bioavailability of these vital nutrients, iron and magnesium. The addition of moisture stimulates enzymatic activity that sits dormant while the grain is in seed state. This makes the starch in the grain more digestible. We will get into sprouting in another post.

We looked for inspiration in a color palette as we eat with our eyes first, so food must be pretty and visually appealing. We thought that light color quinoa would look pretty with bright orange pumpkin. So we placed that into the oven, and went further for the kitchen hunt. We absolutely love arugula, so it must be a part of this creation as well.

The second inspiration was all about flavor of course. This bowl needed a little punch and crunch, so what is better than a sweet added red onion. We wanted to balance it out with some sweetness and added dried cranberries. That still looked a little barren, so we added long thin stripes of yellow pepper and halves of cherry tomatoes. This gorgeous Quinoa Salad with Roasted Pumpkin, Arugula and Cranberry was finished with a sprinkle of roasted pumpkin seeds and served while the pumpkin was warm.

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The third inspiration was a proper bind to this creation, which is a simple vinaigrette dressing. The great thing about this quinoa salad is that you can add almost anything you want. It can be raw carrots, olives, cucumber, green peas, corn, roasted beets, roasted eggplant, parsley, or whatever else you can think of.

Serves 2
Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 20 min
Total Time: 30 min

Ingredients

  1. 1 cup quinoa
  2. 1/4 pumpkin, small
  3. 1/4 cup red onion, medium
  4. 1 yellow bell pepper
  5. Handful of arugula
  6. Handful of cherry tomatoes
  7. 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  8. 1/3 cup roasted pumpkin seeds
  9. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  10. Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
  11. 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  12. 1 lemon (zest and juice)
  13. 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  14. Extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions

  1. Rinse quinoa. Add 1.5 cups of water and bring to boil. Lower heat to simmer and cover. It will be done in 10-15 minutes when water evaporates.
  2. To roast pumpkin, preheat oven 425°F. Wash, clean and cut pumpkin into 1-inch cubes. Toss with little olive oil, turmeric powder, salt and pepper. Spread pumpkin evenly over a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast 15-20 minutes or until cooked through. You can check by poking with a sharp knife.
  3. For the vinaigrette zest of one lemon, juice it, add mustard, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, olive oil. Whisk well and mix with salad.
  4. For the salad – cool quinoa and roasted pumpkin. Chop or julienne the raw ingredients and combine with quinoa and pumpkin. Add the vinaigrette and gently toss ingredients together. Serve and enjoy!