Warm Quinoa, Roasted Butternut Squash and Pine Nut Salad

So here we are! A brand new year ahead of us, full of exciting possibilities and personal goals to kickstart this month. I aim to set myself small, achievable goals; to exercise daily, even if that means running up steps rather than walking, or heading out in the evenings for a breath of fresh air rather than sitting straight on the sofa! As for my diet, I am generally quite careful with what I eat, so will just continue to be mindful of fatty foods or sugary drinks, and remember to enjoy indulging in moderation. However, over the festive period, there was of course lots of grazing on chocolate, mince pies, sausage rolls, and the rest...! So I am keen to direct those cravings towards eating more wholesome, healthy meals and snacks which will hopefully leave me feeling fuller for longer! Salads are the perfect way to pack in your five a day, and can be deliciously filling if you add the right ingredients too. I recently spotted a tasty salad in Nuts: Nutritious Recipes with Nuts Salty or Spicy or Sweet brought to you from Parragon Books Ltd, Love Food, © Parragon Books Ltd 2016. I couldn't wait to put this recipe to the test...

Rich in fibre, zinc, magnesium, iron, vitamins and essential minerals, this colourful bowl of Quinoa, Roasted Butternut Squash and Pine Nuts, will help towards boosting energy levels and giving you a better digestive system. With just a small handful of ingredients needed, this recipe doesn't take long to assemble, so there is no excuse not to give it a try! You will need:

1/2 cup of quinoa

1 1/2 cups of water

1 1/2 cups of peeled and seeded butternut squash (or pumpkin or squash)

2 tbsp of olive oil

2 tbsp pine nuts

3/4 cup spinach

1/4 cup of flat leaf parsley

Juice of 1/4 lemon

Pinch of sea salt and pepper

Generous pinch of cayenne pepper

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. 

Measure out the quantity of quinoa and place into a saucepan filled with 1 and a 1/2 cups of water. Allow to boil and then cover and simmer for a further 10 minutes, over a low heat. Once the time is up, remove the cooked quinoa from the hob and set aside for an additional 7 minutes. This extra time in the hot pan gives the grains the chance to swell in size. Then after, you can scoop out the quinoa into a salad bowl and crack on with the next ingredient...

The butternut squash! Peel and dice 1 and a 1/2 cups and then place into a roasting dish.

Coat with a generous pinch of cayenne pepper, salt, pepper and a good glug of olive oil (roughly 2 tbsp). Now transfer to the oven and pop your timer on for 25 minutes.

Next up, the nuts. Roast 2 tbsp of pine nuts in a clean, dry saucepan.

You may be surprised that no olive oil or butter is required in the cooking of the nuts. They will work their magic all on their own! Just keep a beady eye on your saucepan as the pine nuts could catch very easily if left unattended. It will take a couple of minutes for them to turn a golden brown. Remove from the pan and put to one side once they are ready.

As soon as the butternut squash is out of the oven, you can begin assembling the salad. Place the fluffy quinoa into the bottom of the salad bowl and top with freshly washed spinach leaves.

Carefully scoop in the caramelised butternut squash, toasted pine nuts, freshly chopped flat leaf parsley, add a splash of lemon juice and a crack of salt n' pepper.

Grab your salad servers and gently turn all of the ingredients together in the bowl until everything is coated in quinoa, pine nuts, seasoning and the zesty lemon juice.

Then, get stuck in! This dish is so simple and easy to prepare. And the best bit of all? You need not feel an ounce of guilt diving into this healthy bowl of goodness! 

Thank you to Parragon Books for kindly providing me with this great recipe! If you would like to discover more delicious recipes, you can purchase the cookbook here.