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There are certain things I just crave all the time.  Butternut Squash, cilantro, quinoa, roasted cashews, Indian spices to name a few.  Ever since I was first introduced to Indian flavors I have been in love with them.  Unfortunately Grumpy is not but he no longer complains to me too much or says I can’t cook anything with Indian spices when he is home.

A few weeks ago I went to the Honest Weight Food Co-Op and found a Quinoa Salad that was so yummy.  I decided then and there I would replicate it somewhat but never saved the container that it came in so I didn’t have a list of ingredients that were in the salad.  I do remember thinking that I wished it was cilantro instead of basil in the salad – but the salad was still really yummy!

So I decided that I would still use the two main ingredients in their salad – the quinoa and butternut squash – and go with my own flavors.  I didn’t have a butternut squash and hadn’t remembered to buy one, but last week when we were visiting home my dad gave me a butternut squash from their garden.  Yes, I was grocery shopping in my parent’s pantry again!

First thing Sunday morning I decided to throw together the recipe that I am sharing with you today.  Before I prepared it I wrote down ingredients that I thought would go really well in this salad and just put it together as I felt it should be.  While I didn’t measure my ingredients (with the exception of spices) I have given estimates as to how much of everything else you should use.  I hope if you make this you enjoy it.  I know I will be enjoying it a couple of days this week for my lunch at work!

Indian Spiced Butternut Squash Tri-Colored Quinoa Salad
inspired by a salad made at Honest Weight Food Co-Op

Printable Recipe

2-1/2 cups tri-colored quinoa, cooked and cooled
3 cups cubed butternut squash
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon mustard seed (black)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes – adjust according to your heat tolerance
1 teaspoon madras curry powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1-2 teaspoons honey
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup chopped unsalted roasted cashews

Cook quinoa and set aside to cool.  I used 1-1/2 cups water and 1 cup quinoa, placed in a saucepan and brought to a boil.  Turned down to a very slow simmer and let it cook until water was absorbed.  I used about 1/2 of the cooked quinoa and put the rest in the freezer for another use later.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In oven safe skillet heat 1 tablespoon oil and mustard seed until mustard seeds begin to pop.  Turn down heat and add red pepper flakes, curry, cumin, and turmeric powder.  Stir, being very careful not to burn (best to make sure the heat has cooled down in the pan before placing the spices in).  Add squash and toss to coat.  Place skillet in oven and roast squash until just tender.  How long this will take will depend on how big you cut your squash cubes.  Toss squash intermittently and test for doneness.  I cubed my squash into about 1″ square pieces and it took approximately  13-15 minutes to cook.  You don’t want it to be mushy so keep a close eye on it.  Once squash is almost done, toss with a tablespoon of honey.  Return to oven for another minute to caramelize the squash some.  Remove from oven and cool to room temperature.

Mix the quinoa and squash (make sure to scrape the pan clean of ALL juices) then mix in chopped cilantro and chopped roasted unsalted cashews.  Enjoy!  This is good room temperature or cold!