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Autumn is my favorite time of the year. Although I no longer get to enjoy the beauty of the changing leaves here in San Diego, I still get to enjoy new fall fashions and seasonal ingredients. Around this time of the year, I usually trade in my whites, linens and shorts for darker neutrals, tweeds, leather and denim. What intrigues me the most about fall fashion is the wide variety of prints and textures (great for layering). In regard to autumn produce, I just love squash, figs, apples, pears, onions and sweet potatoes (I could go on and on here, but I’ll stop). This Red Quinoa Salad with Roasted Acorn Squash features two of my seasonal favorites – squash and red onions. Topped with a pistachio arugula dressing, this salad is healthy, hearty and deliciously complex.
Red Quinoa and Roasted Acorn Squash Salad
For the salad:
- 1 acorn squash
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus more for the onions
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 12 red torpedo onions, peeled (you could also use small shallots or red onions)
- 2 cups cooked red quinoa* (you could also use white quinoa)
- 1 cup arugula
For the Pistachio Arugula dressing:
- ⅓ cup shelled pistachios
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 tablespoons warm water
- ½ cup arugula
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Slice the acorn squash in half from top to bottom and scoop out the seeds. Cut the squash halves into ½ inch wide half moons and place in a medium bowl. Toss the half moons with the maple syrup, olive oil, crushed red pepper flakes, a pinch of kosher salt and a few turns of freshly ground black pepper. Spread the slices out on a parchment-lined baking sheet and set aside.
- Toss the torpedo onions with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of kosher salt and a few turns of freshly ground black pepper. Spread out on a separate baking sheet. Roast both the squash and the onions for 45 minutes or until the squash turn golden brown and the onions are soft and caramelized. Once the squash slices are cool enough to handle, peel the skins off.
- While the squash and onions are roasting, assemble the dressing. In a blender or food processor, puree the pistachios, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and honey until creamy. If the dressing seems to thick, you can thin it out with a tablespoon or two of warm water. Pulse in the ½ cup arugula (don’t over pulse though – you want to see visible bits of arugula in the dressing). Season with additional kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
- In a large bowl, gently toss the red quinoa, 1 cup of arugula and roasted torpedo onions. Divide the quinoa salad amongst six small plates. Top each serving with several slices of roasted acorn squash and a drizzle of pistachio arugula dressing.
Jane @ Sweet Basil Kitchen says
I love autumn too…cool crisp evenings! I am intrigued by your recipe and am anxious to try it. Butternut and acorn squash are very prolific in my daughters garden this year!
Oh wow, this looks incredible. I’ve recently discovered quinoa and am loving it, so I may have to recreate this salad at home.
Beautiful photos, too!
Laura (Blogging Over Thyme) says
Those torpedo onions are beautiful! I’ve never seen those before.
I love red quinoa! I’ve also heard that black quinoa exists too. I just made quinoa pancakes the other day! I love how versatile a grain it is.
SO YUM says
Brandon, Everything you touch looks so amazing and makes me instantly hungry. I might actually make it to the grocery store this weekend to try some cooking. Keep the inspiration coming.
Brandon Matzek says
@Jackie I love quinoa!! Costco carries the white variety in a huge quantity and I recently discovered that Trader Joe’s sells a small box of red quinoa! I prepare quinoa at least once a week at my house.
@Laura The torpedo onions are definitely a farmer’s market find. If you can’t find torpedo onions, you could use small shallots or red onions. You could also use larger red onions cut into quarters! I have heard about black quinoa; however, I’ve never tried it. I heard that its texture is different than it’s white and red counterparts. Please let me know if you try it!
@SO YUM Thanks!! Get over to that grocery store 😉
I keep hearing about red quinoa, but have yet to try it! I love your flavors here 🙂
Cathy B. @ Bright Bakes says
I’m going to have to make this! Just out of curiosity, I currently have only regular quinoa on hand…Is the taste pretty similar?
Beautiful, what a wonderful and delicious way to ring in the beginning of autumn!
I haven’t tried quinoa yet, but I’m going to Trader Joe’s soon. I already have an acorn squash.
What a lovely fall dish with many of the flavors of Fall. did Trader Joe’s have the figas too?
I love your posts especially for the photos and superb presentation…
Looks delicious! I’m with you on fall foods, I just wish they didn’t have to come with cold weather.
Priscilla - She's Cookin' says
Beautiful flavors and photos. I only wish it felt like autumn and I could turn the oven on to roast some acorn squash (my husband’s favorite).
I love the colors in this dish! Makes me really excited for the fall. 😀
Acorn squash and quinoa are two of my favorite foods, and this is an absolutely brilliant idea! Once it cools down enough to turn on an oven (I’m up in LA), I’m making this.
the constant hunger says
I agree with you. Fall is the best season and living on the east coast, it is a magical time when the leaves turn and you need a little extra blanket to keep you warm at night. This salad is LOADED with flavors and acorn squash is my favorite fruit/vegetable/squash. I like the addition of pistachio in the dressing. Nice crunch.
This looks really beautiful! I bet it tastes as good as it looks!
Brandon Matzek says
@Cathy B You can certainly use regular (white) quinoa for this dish.
@Becky Trader Joe’s should still have figs. Costo also sells a 2 pound tray of beautiful figs (so cheap!).
@Lynn @ Priscilla Yeah, it topped out at 105 degrees here yesterday. I wasn’t roasting anything either! Maybe give it a try in a few weeks?
I just have to try this recipe, i love quinoa and squash and the add of roasted onions, mmmm, is mouth watering
What a great looking salad. Not only does it look lovely but I love the flavor combinations, I bet the peppery arugula pairs nicely with the sweetness of the squash, this one is a keeper!
How well would this work with regular quinoa?
Brandon Matzek says
@Mike This works just as well with regular (white) quinoa. Simply substitute in 2 cups of cooked regular quinoa for the red quinoa. Thanks!