I admit that the name of this recipe does not give this salad justice. The additions of roasted butternut squash, goat cheese and spinach make this not only a rich source of many nutrients, but very tasty. Although this salad is best when eaten right after preparation, it can last in the refrigerator for a few days and is still scrumptious when warmed up.
- 1 butternut squash
- 1 ½ cups quinoa
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 cup water
- 3 cups fresh spinach
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes
- 20 g of goat cheese
- 3 tbsp toasted pine nuts
- Salt & pepper
- Preheat the oven to 425°.
- Cut butternut squash in ½ and scoop out the seeds.
- Place both halves, inside facing up, on a baking sheet and roast for 1hour and 20 minutes or until tender and a fork can pierce easily.
- Remove from oven and let cool for about 10 minutes.
- Peel off skin and chop one ½ into bite sized pieces. Save the other ½ in the refrigerator for another meal.
- Combine the quinoa, vegetable broth and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
- Turn the heat to low-medium and simmer covered for 15-20 minutes.
- Fluff with a fork and stir in fresh spinach until wilted.
- Transfer to a mixing bowl.
- Cut cherry tomatoes in half and add to the mixing bowl.
- Stir in roasted squash pieces and crumbled goats cheese.
- Add toasted pine nuts and combine.
- Salt & pepper to taste and serve immediately.
Spinach is an edible flowering plant which comes in three different varieties distinguished by their leaf type; savoy, smooth and semi-savoy (LeStrange et al., 1996). All three types are extremely nutritious and found in season now until the end of October. One cup of raw spinach contains an abundance of dietary fiber, calcium, folate, iron, magnesium, potassium and vitamins A, C, E and K. As well, this leafy green has trace amounts of heart healthy fatty acids (USDA, 2012). While spinach does have noteworthy concentrations of calcium, it also contains high amounts of oxalates which bind to this mineral and substantially decrease absorption by the body (Holmes and Kennedy, 2000). However, spinach is still a great source of magnesium and vitamin K, which are both important for bone health (Armas et al., 2010). The body’s conversion of vitamin K activates osteocalcin which is a protein responsible for bone mineralization (Kapustin and Shanahan, 2011). Vitamin K not only helps to increase bone mineral density and decrease the chances of fractures, but has also been shown to play a major role in blood clotting (Weber, 2001). Coagulation is extremely important for proper bodily functioning and if not maintained could lead to a wide range of problems. Overall, spinach is a highly nutritious food containing several antioxidants which protect the body against oxidative damage and ensure proper health (Moser et al., 2011). So it isn’t a stretch to think that Popeye was talking about more than just muscles when he said, “I’m strong to the finish when I eats me spinach”.
Roasted butternut squash is absolutely delicious and makes a fantastic base for a soup. This no fuss and easy to make soup is satisfying and sure to become a classic in your recipe box. It also freezes very well.
- 1 butternut squash
- 1 large white onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- 6 cups of vegetable broth
- 2 Bay leaves
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp curry powder
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- salt & pepper
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Safely cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. *Save the seeds to roast (recipe below)
- Cut the white onion into 1/4 sections. Cut the head off of the garlic and wrap in aluminum foil.
- Place the squash (inside facing up), onion and garlic foil package on a baking sheet. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until squash is tender.
- Let vegetables cool for 15 minutes and then purée with 1 cup of vegetable broth.
- Pour the purée into a soup pot and add the rest of the vegetable broth, bay leaves, brown sugar, curry, oregano, cinnamon and nutmeg.
- Simmer for 10 minutes and then season with salt & pepper.
- Remove the bay leaves and add the yogurt and fresh cilantro.
Butternut squash is a member of the winter squash family and should not be overlooked during the warmer months. A relative of cucumbers and melons, the squash is an excellent source of fiber, manganese, magnesium, potassium, as well as vitamins A, C and E (Jacobo-Valenzuela et al., 2011). Together, these nutrients are known to contribute to vision health and the growth and repair of tissues. Fiber is always important to include in your daily diet because it improves cholesterol levels and digestion while increasing satiety, thus benefitting weight management (Alpers, et al., 2008). Vitamin C increases the body’s absorption of iron while potassium aids in the maintenance of healthy blood pressure (Alpers, et al., 2008). In fact, 1 cup of baked squash supplies the body with 1/3 of the daily recommended amount of vitamin C (19 mg) and 494 mg of potassium (Rowe and Davis, 1008). A large component of squash is starch which in fact happens to be a surprisingly healthy type of starch that is high in pectin. Recent research on animals has shown that starch may be more beneficial than previously thought because of its pectin concentration. Pectin is found in the cell walls of plants and acts as a soluble dietary fiber by binding to cholesterol and slowing down the absorption of glucose (O’Donoghue and Somerfield, 2008). Results from a study by Fissore et al. (2010), show that pectin may also have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and insulin regulating properties. Lastly, make sure to keep the scooped out seeds. They are an excellent source of linoleic and oleic acids which are healthy omega-6 and monounsaturated fatty acids, respectively. Lightly oil the seeds on a baking sheet and roast for approximately 20 minutes on low heat (170 °F). To add more flavour sprinkle with paprika or cumin prior to roasting and lightly salt & pepper before you eat. Isn’t it exciting when you can use the entirety of a vegetable!