This year, I’m hosting Thanksgiving for the first time in a very long time. Despite my years of planning menus for events and my extensive culinary experience, I’ll admit I’m a little nervous. It’s likely there will be a few new faces and a few dietary concerns to maneuver, too. Fortunately, one of my favorite holiday mainstays—Turkey Day Quinoa—can be enjoyed by most anyone. Quinoa means it’s naturally gluten-free, dairy-free and hearty for a meatless dish. That said, if there is any left over, it makes a great next-day lunch with a little chopped turkey on top.
Turkey Day Quinoa
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa
- 14 oz. butternut squash, finely diced
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 tsp. kosher salt, divided
- ½ tsp. freshly ground black peppercorns, divided
- 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
- ⅓ cup dried cranberries, chopped
- ¼ cup raw pepitas, chopped
- ½ Granny Smith apple, peeled and diced
- 1 tsp. fresh rosemary leaves, minced
- ¼ oz. fresh sage leaves, finely minced
- ¼ oz. fresh Italian parsley leaves, finely chopped
- 1 Tbsp. lemon zest
Cook quinoa according to package directions; chill completely. In a large mixing bowl, drizzle squash with about half of the oil; season with half of the salt and pepper. Roast on a parchment-lined baking sheet in a preheated 450 degree F oven until edges are browned and squash is just tender and dark golden-brown on the edges (about 15 minutes), turning once. Remove squash from oven and cool completely to room temperature. In an extra-large mixing or serving bowl, drizzle cold quinoa with remaining oil and lemon juice; season with remaining salt and pepper. Add cooled squash, cranberries, pepitas, apple, herbs and lemon zest to the bowl; gently toss. Adjust seasoning, if needed.
Tasty Tip: Meat eaters may enjoy adding ½ lb. finely diced Boar’s Head Tuscan Turkey (or leftover roasted Thanksgiving turkey) with the cranberries, pepitas and apples.
Rachael Perron is the culinary and branding director for Kowalski’s Markets, where she specializes in product development and selection, culinary education and communications. Find more at kowalskis.com.