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Quinoa, Butternut Squash & Kale Salad And An Apple Cardamom Crisp

Quinoa, Kale and Butternut Squash Salad

I hope everyone celebrating Thanksgiving had a wonderful time doing so. We surely did. The whole week was actually pretty darn good. It was rich in connections and reflections. The time spent in the kitchen with Laura reminded me of the time spent at home preparing a holiday meal with my grandmother and mother. It was comforting and soothing in so many ways.

It was a lot of fun cooking a huge feast with another like minded person. It’s easy to talk food, pies, gratins, table settings, photography while chopping, boiling, cooking, peeling, etc… We made a lot of dishes. We wanted to try new recipes and still some beloved family ones. We certainly did not hold back but we had plenty to box up for our guests to take home. I have learned years ago that Thanksgiving leftovers are a must!


I will revisit a couple of the dishes for a later post but among the biggest hits were the Apple Cider Brined Turkey from Bon Appetit, Laura’s mashed potatoes with creme fraiche, a root & leek vegetable gratin and a fennel-brioche and sausage stuffing. And the greens beans! I must revisit those miso green beans soon and post the recipe!

Apple Cardamom Crisp

When everyone gathered around the table and shared some of their stories, time, themselves, my heart just fogged over. I was thankful for being surrounded by so much love and friendship. Many times I had to pinch myself that the day went as beautifully as it did. And continued the day after when Laura and her fiance Alex requested that I shot their engagement pictures. We had so much fun…well into the evening with dinner and drinks.

The weekend was spent quietly putting china and linens away, shopping at our farmers market and loading up on lots of seasonal fruits and vegetables. Taking some time to sit in the park with Bill and share a crepe and a cup of coffee. It finally started to feel like the holiday season (except for the 80F weather). Those simple things are all I crave for. They fuel me and refuel me times and times again. Just as certain foods do.

Pink Lady Apples

After a few richer meal than usual, I like the simplicity of a few good salads or soups. Without being a full blown detox, it’s nice to dig my fork into a lighter fare. Lately, it’s been lots and lots of variation around quinoa salad and this one is the one I have made countless time in the past couple of weeks. It’s versatile enough to be a side dish or main course (with a poached egg on top…fabulous!). Kale and butternut squash are abundant this time of year but any seasonal vegetable would work.

I generally pass on desserts in favor of a good juicy apple or pear this time of year. I do however have the habit of making dessert for our Sunday suppers with friends and crisps and simple tarts are always high on the list during Fall and Winter. Having a spoonful of a little sweet something always makes me feel like I am ending the weekend well and ready for the week ahead.

Apple Cardamom Crisp

The quinoa salad is one I intent to serve for lunch during the Food Photography Workshop I’ll be teaching in Charleston on December 10th. Yep, I enlisted Laura to assist and help prep some great foods for all the attendees. On a side note, there are 3 spots left for that workshop!

I am curious though….what do you like to cook or bake to give your body and self a little break this holiday season? Looking forward to being inspired with your answers! Thanks for sharing!

Quinoa, Kale and Butternut Squash Salad

Apple Cardamom Crisp:

Makes 6 to 8 (depending on your ramekins)

For the fruit:
6 regular size apples (your choice) or about 12-15 lady apples
1 cup fresh cranberries
2 tablespoons honey
juice and zest of one lemon
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon cardamom

For the crisp:
1 cup Jeanne’s all purpose gluten free flour mix (or same quantity regular flour)
1/2 cup (100 gr) light packed brown sugar
1 stick (113 gr) butter, softened

Preheat the oven to 350F (convection or regular) and position a rack in the center. Prepare the fruit:
Peel, core and slice thin the apples. Place them in a large bowl with the cranberries, honey, lemon zest and juice, cornstarch and cardamom. Toss well and reserve.
Prepare the crisp topping:
In a medium bowl, combine with your fingertips or a pastry blender the flour, sugar and butter and form large clumps of dough. Refrigerate at least an hour or freeze overnight.
Assemble and bake:
Divide the apples evenly among 6 gratin dishes or ramekins. If the crisp dough was refrigerated, just break apart clumps of it over the fruit with your fingertips. If it was frozen, you can simply grate it on top with a large cheese grater.
Bake for 20-30 minutes. Let cool.


Quinoa Salad:

Makes 4 to 6 servings as a main dish.

1 1/2 cups quinoa
3 cups water
2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups peeled, cored and diced butternut squash
1 1/2 cups roughly chopped kale (previously washed and cleaned)
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
vinaigrette (recipe here)

In a large pot, bring the quinoa and water to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, covered until all the water has been absorbed (about 20 minutes). Remove from the heat, fluff with a for and place in a large bowl to cool for 20 minutes.
In the meantime, heat one teaspoons olive oil in a large skillet, add the onion and cook until it turns translucid. Add the garlic, butternut squash and kale. Cover with a lid and cook for about 10 minutes on medium-low heat. Remove the lid, check that the butternut squash is tender but not mushy or hard when you poke a piece with a knife. Add the thyme and continue cooking until the all the liquid creating by the cover has evaporated.
Let cool to room temperature. Gently fold the cooked quinoa and the cooked vegetables together along with the vinaigrette.
Serve room temperature or cold.

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Anna November 28, 2011 um 5:57 pm

This salad is perfect since I have squash and kale that I need to use up and quinoa already cooked. I'll make it tomorrow, thanks!

nicole {sweet peony} November 28, 2011 um 6:03 pm

beautiful pictures! so happy to hear you had a nice holiday weekend! i'm going to make this salad for my lunches this week… it looks like the perfect meal to get back on track after too much food 🙂

la domestique November 28, 2011 um 6:16 pm

I do love a crisp and that apple one looks so good! When I've overdosed on rich food I often turn to delicate fish. A beautiful piece of poached salmon or whitefish served simply with sauteed greens and rice is satisfying and nourishing.

Suzi November 28, 2011 um 6:18 pm

Your photos are outstanding, I have your book and I love it. I have only used quinoa once but kale has become one of my favorite leafy greens besides spinach. I will have to try this recipe. We also have 80 degree weather here in FL and I have rainbow swiss chard still growing in the garden. I have never eaten chard so not quite sure what to do with it but it is pretty.
Hope you have a wonderful holiday season. Sheers!

Molly November 28, 2011 um 7:56 pm

I lean towards bean salads when I want to take a break from cooking. They are easy to do — I prefer a good soak and a steam in the pressure cooker than opening a can — they always taste good, and are infinitely healthier than any of the galettes I seem to be whipping up on a near-weekly basis.

I love the idea of cardamom in the crisp. I think we might be down to our last few apples at this point in the season, though.

Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga November 29, 2011 um 12:14 am

Beautiful food and great mentality and approach.

"what do you like to cook or bake to give your body and self a little break this holiday season? " — we are going on vacay for most of December and when we're there it's mostly raw, no bake, and fresh food and fresh ingredients. Very little cooked or processed b/c it's so warm the simple/'clean' things taste best.

That, and the holiday baking I do while I'm there 🙂

Ilke November 29, 2011 um 1:13 am

We need to eat more soups and salads during these days just so that we have more room for sweets…
I love this grain, so healthy!

di November 29, 2011 um 2:50 am

Quinoa has become my favorite on the menu. I discovered quinoa flakes to replace rolled oats for breakfast, very nice.

MC November 29, 2011 um 3:22 am

Très joli et appétissant ! Deux nouvelles recettes à essayer. Merci !

The Whimsical Wife November 29, 2011 um 3:28 am

Oh I adore quinoa salads. You can make so many variations. I just wanted to say that I LOVE your book pixel to plate. It has revolutionized my food photography! Thank you!

Yuri November 29, 2011 um 5:05 am

Salad looks gorgeous and apples looks crispy and delicious. I can smell sweet flavor from your pretty photos.

Lingon November 29, 2011 um 11:04 am

i would love to have a cup of tea with milk and a home-bake gingerbread cookie 🙂 Love your words and photos. Simple, yet profound.

Liz Rueven November 29, 2011 um 12:46 pm

Quinoa and kale are 2 of my favorite ingredients. With great textures and colors, they are nutritionally dense and tasty. Your pics are just magnificent.

For a break, I take a quick drive to my favorite farm to see what Sport Hill in Easton, CT is harvesting. I buy a good armful of something that looks fantastic (tatsoi, anyone?!) and go home to get creative!

ChichaJo November 29, 2011 um 1:03 pm

Oooh! I need something light and lovely like that quinoa salad before the Christmas holidays here…maybe for lunch tomorrow 🙂 Love spending the holidays surrounded by love and laughter and good people!

Colette (Coco) November 29, 2011 um 4:03 pm

Apples & cardamom – never thought of it. Gotta try it!

Vanessa November 29, 2011 um 4:23 pm

Light, healthy, and delicious! Beautiful photos, as always. <3

Sharyn DImmick November 29, 2011 um 5:36 pm

It is soup and bread season around here during Advent — we have made our post Thanksgiving rounds of turkey apple stew and turkey and noodles and will be finishing up with turkey tacos, soon. Today I plan to make mushrooms marsala over soft polenta, but then it is onto soup, bread and traditional Christmas sweets.

Valérie (France) November 29, 2011 um 5:57 pm

De bien jolies images et appétissantes
Belle soirée

Unknown November 29, 2011 um 8:09 pm

I've turned to soups. I have ingredients for several soup dishes and we'll be eating that for dinner with whole grain breads. I want to be ready for Xmas cookies!

Rachel Willen@FoodFix November 29, 2011 um 8:39 pm

Just made a pot of my red lentil soup and added butternut squash…it's got cumin and curry and a little spike of cayenne…warming and a bit of a bite…this makes me feel warm and it's gluten free and grain free so it sit right with my stomach too.

Melanie November 29, 2011 um 9:57 pm

I love, love, love quinoa and kale! And butternut squash is the perfect complement 🙂 If only they had kale here in Japan…I can't find it anywhere! Fall is such a happy season, filled with the warmth of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and cardamom…mmm chai!

Shelby November 30, 2011 um 7:37 am

What a beautiful post, your Thanksgiving recipes sounded nostalgic and delicious! I look forward to seeing more of them and giving that Apple Cardamom Crisp a go! This time of year I love to cook & bake with any seasonal produce…root veggies, crisps and crumbles and soups! I recently made an Apple, Carrot & Ginger soup (with a few leeks & garlic) that was just divine… the perfect accompaniment to a slice of zucchini-carrot bread 🙂

Dena November 30, 2011 um 5:24 pm

Another beautiful post. I especially like the photos of the apple crisp.

Gen November 30, 2011 um 8:31 pm

J'aime particulièrement le dessert! Avec les pommes du jardin c'est top!

Rocky Mountain Woman November 30, 2011 um 10:57 pm

I am obsessed with winter squash right now….

This looks amazing!

the fatty chalupa December 1, 2011 um 2:35 am

gahhh I really want to see the recipe for those miso green beans now!

Yue Jiang December 2, 2011 um 12:54 am

Butternut squash and apple! i like your eating in-season food idea and i am myself a big supporter of this. too bad Americans just no longer know what's in season coz most of them are available all year round.

kyleen December 2, 2011 um 3:02 am

Mhmm everything looks absolutely delicious! I especially like the quinoa, butternut squash, and kale salad since I'm a fan of all three.

Hmm, I haven't even thought of comfort baking or cooking; so far, even stress has leaked into my baking. These past weekends, I've found myself baking because I had to. If I could comfort-cook I would make a big pot of French onion soup.

Sofie Dittmann AKA The German Foodie December 5, 2011 um 2:40 am

i wonder if the quinoa salad will work w/ amaranth, too? we have a ton of amaranth that i have been using in lieu of, well, any "small grain"… 🙂

mandi c August 23, 2012 um 11:20 pm

I made the quinoa salad last night and it was delicious! I didn't have any red wine vinegar for the vinaigerette and subbed apple cider vinegar…tasted great! Thanks so much for the lovely recipe, it's going in our keep pile.

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