Roasted Winter Squash and Apples with Quinoa, Kale, Pecans and Tahini Maple Dressing

This gorgeous photo is from  Ashley McLaughlin, an architect turned "cookbook author, freelance food photographer, recipe developer, and portrait photographer."  McLaughlin uses acorn squash with her kale (which makes for an interesting shape), but the winter squash in the 9/30 farm share from Glade Road Growing is slated to be a 2-3 pound buttercup squash as pictured at the bottom of the page. Beside the squash, kale and garlic used in this recipe, other veggies slated for delivery are:  parsley, lettuce mix, and peppers.


To make tahini dressing:

Heat a clean, large dry cast iron  skillet over medium high heat and add 1 cup of whole sesame seeds.  Stir frequently until they begin to turn golden brown and pop.  Remove from skillet and process in a blender, food processor or mortar and pestle with about 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to make 3/4 cup.  For this recipe, you will need 4 TB.  You can store the rest in a lidded jar in the fridge.  Peel and smash one clove of garlic. Combine tahini and garlic in a jar with with 2 oz. lime juice (about two limes). Seal and shake and let sit for at least 10 minutes.  Add 1 TB of  real maple syrup and sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.  Set aside.

To roast squash and apples:

Slice two crisp, tart  apples, leaving skin on, but removing core (Granny Smith and Cortlands are two of my favorites).

Cut the squash in half, remove the seeds.  I roast it roast face up  in a counter top convection oven for 30 minutes at 475 degrees F, then slice it, peel it and cut it into chunks.  Alternately, you can cut it into 1/4 thick slices and roast it in a conventional oven at 400 degrees F for about 35 minutes, flipping once halfway through.  If you are cooking the squash in the oven, during the last seven minutes add the apples.  Otherwise you can roast separately in the convection oven for a couple of minutes once the squash is done until the apples start to soften and turn fragrant.

To cook kale and quinoa
Smash, peel and mince 3 cloves of garlic. Chiffonade the kale by removing center stem, rolling and slicing crosswise to make long strips. 

Cover 1 cup raw quinoa in 2 cups of water and bring to a boil.  Simmer for 5 minutes and then rinse.  Add fresh water and bring back to a boil and let sit covered until water is absorbed, about a half hour.  Fluff with a fork.

Cook kale in lightly oiled cast iron skillet for about four minutes.  Add garlic and cook another minute, then   add a bit of water to steam lightly.  Remove from stove to plate while kale is still bright green and combine with  cooked quinoa.

To serve:

Place quinoa and kale  on a large platter then arrange roasted squash and apples on top. Or you can serve in individual bowls. Sprinkle with 1/2  cup of pecans and drizzle with dressing. 

This buttercup squash photo is  from Canadian registered dietitian, freelance magazine nutrition writer and recipe developer Matt Kadey of the blog Muffin Tin Mania.  Be sure to check out his 11/10/10 recipe for buttercup squash and oat muffins. Other yummy recipes for winter squash and kale include Kaela Porter's roasted squash with red peppers and rosemary from her Local Kitchen blog and Liz Harris's wheat berry salad with roasted squash, kale and whiskey soaked cranberrries from her Floating Kitchen blog.  Plus, here are my winter squash recipes from last season:

09/10/13: Moroccan Squash and Eggplant Stew
10/07/13: Another Moroccan Stew: Beets, Buttercup Squash and Radishes
11/11/13: Pecan-Topped Winter Squash Pie (Pumpkin and Sweet Potatoes Work, Too)

11/18/13: Parsnip, Carrot, Winter Squash and Apple Stew