With only two days left until Thanksgiving, this is about the time when I start putting the finishing touches on the holiday menu. This year is a bit different though: my hubby, stepson, and I are all visiting my amazing in-laws. Because I’m a guest in a house full of big-time meat eaters, I’ve decided that, rather than make a bunch of food and take command of the entire kitchen, I’ll make one big dish containing many of my favorite fall foods and flavors. (Oh yeah, and I might just have to make this too.)
This year’s dish–Roasted Cinnamon Apple and Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad–was inspired by something I picked up from Central Market last week to take to my work’s pre-Thanksgiving feast. Not only did I instantly fall in love with the dish, I swore that I would make my own version as soon as I had the time. Well, now that I’m finally on break, the first thing I did (actually, the second thing–the first thing I did was take a nap) was to heat up the oven and roast some cinnamon-spiced apples and sweet potatoes…
With that wonderful smell wafting through the kitchen, I was more than eager to prepare the rest of the dish. Yes, I did some taste testing–OK, a lot of taste testing–as I was cooking, but it just smelled too good to resist!
I had hoped the first batch I made would last a while, but that definitely didn’t happen. I think it was when I realized during the 4-hour drive to our family’s house that I didn’t have any silverware and started eating the quinoa with my bare hands that it occurred to me I would have to make much, much more…and I was absolutely right.
The best part about this dish: it’s extremely filling if you want to enjoy it as your entrée or it can serve as a tasty side dish for those meat-eater friends/family members….that is, if you’re willing to share….
- 1 cup dry quinoa, preferably soaked overnight, rinsed well
- 2 cups filtered water or vegetable broth
- 1 lb. sweet potatoes, chopped into ½-inch cubes
- 1 large or 2 small Granny Smith apples, chopped into ½-inch cubes
- 1 rounded Tbs. coconut oil, melted
- ½ tsp. cinnamon
- ¼ tsp. sea salt
- ½ cup chopped red onion
- 1½ – 2 cups torn kale leaves
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- 1 Tbs. olive oil
- 1 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
- 1 Tbs. lemon juice
- 1 Tbs. maple syrup (can sub with other liquid sweetener or sugar-free sweetener of choice)
- 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
- ¼ tsp. cinnamon
- pinch nutmeg
- sea salt, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Toss the sweet potatoes in a mixing bowl with ½ Tbs. melted coconut oil, ¼ tsp. cinnamon, and ¼ tsp. sea salt. Spread the sweet potato out evenly over the parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake in the oven for approximately 40 minutes, flipping halfway through to ensure even baking.
- Toss the chopped Granny Smith apple in the same mixing bowl used for the sweet potato along with the remaining ½ Tbs. melted coconut oil and ¼ tsp. cinnamon. When the sweet potato only has 10-15 minutes left to go, remove the baking sheet from the oven and spread the apples out with the sweet potato. Bake for the remaining 10-15 minutes until both are cooked through, but still hold their shape.
- While the sweet potatoes are roasting, cook the quinoa: bring the filtered water to a boil in a sauce pan. Add the rinsed quinoa, cover, and turn the heat down to a low simmer. Allow the quinoa to cook for 15-20 minutes. When all the liquid has been absorbed, remove the pan from the heat and keep the lid on for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, remove the lid and fluff the quinoa with a fork. Allow the quinoa to sit and cool.
- Heat a knob of coconut oil in a large sauté pan. Sauté the onion and kale for approximately 3-4 minutes, or until the kale has softened a bit and turned a bright green hue.
- To prepare the sauce: whisk all ingredients together.
- Now comes the fun part: combine all ingredients (sweet potatoes, apples, quinoa, onion, kale, cranberries, and sauce) together in a large mixing bowl and toss until completely coated with the sauce.
- Serve immediately and enjoy!! This salad is good served warm or cold.