Roasted Butternut Squash and Quinoa Salad with Pickled Shallot

We are in full gardening mode here at the Hardison Homestead. Every year it seems like we are changing our garden around. We have planted in raised beds made of railroad ties for a few years now. Last year we had a super dry garden season with extremely high heat. The only success we had came from our raised beds.

Although, railroad ties are made with creosote. The particular ones we purchased were extremely old and didn’t have a smell and to be honest with you creosote never even crossed my mind in regards to contaminating our soil.

Creosote is used for preserving wood through a high temperature/pressure/chemical process. Forcing creosote [known as a fungicide, insecticide, sporicide, miticide and known to be a carcinogen to humans] into the timber so it will last for years. Most common uses: [of course] railroads, light poles, fence posts… but certainly should be reconsidered for your raised beds.

At the time, we went that route due to time and cost. We first made 6 beds then rearranged them in the front of the house as just 3 beds. Each bed was finished after 4 ties and 3 cinder blocks- done deal. Thankfully–so so thankful– my husband started doing some reading after working in the beds some earlier this year and we decided to get rid of the railroad tie idea. This added a lot of work to our plate!

With a new mind set, we decided to use all untreated wood. We have read where we should be able to get about 5 years out of it. We struggled with this and wondered if the few years would make it worth the investment. What the heck, we went with it and decided we will replace them as needed and hope they last longer.

Our front garden is now turning into what we call our “garden nook”. We will be working all day Saturday in our nook and hopefully I will have pictures to post. Maybe this will stir up some creative ideas for you and your family for your garden and homestead.

While things couldn’t possibly get any more busy we decided to become beekeepers!! We couldn’t be anymore excited. Like this is a DREAM! This is totally a different post [so stay tuned].

You’re probably like, “What the heck, I only clicked on this because this sounded like a killer recipe. What in the world is she talking about over here??”. So sorry I’m rambling. I made this yesterday and after one bite my husband raved about it. Its super simple and a crowd pleaser.

Roasted Butternut Squash and Quinoa Salad with Pickled Shallot

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Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups quinoa, cooked and cooled
1 butternut squash, cubed
3 cups kale, rinsed and chopped
1 cucumber, cubed
1 can white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
Thyme
salt
black pepper
evoo
hemp hearts, for garnishing or around 2 tablespoons
chia seeds, for garnishing or around 1 teaspoon

Pickled Shallot
1 shallot,thinly sliced
1/2 cup raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup water

Dressing
1/2 cup evoo
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 Tablespoons dijon mustard
pinch of salt
dash of pepper
Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400*F.

While the oven is preheating, combine the apple cider vinegar and water along with sliced shallot in a mason jar. Put a lid on it and place it in the refrigerator to start pickling. You can leave them to marry for 30 minutes or even 24 hours. Its up to you and depends on how much time you have.

**FYI pickled onions last for several weeks in the fridge. We used to keep them on hand and typically vinegar to water will be a 1:1 ratio. Feel free to experiment with different vinegars and herbs!**

Place [rinsed and chopped] kale in a bowl and set to the side.

For the dressing, place all ingredients in a pint mason jar, cap it, and shake the heck out of it until its beautiful and creamy. Drizzle a few tablespoons over kale and massage until its fully coated. Place both in the refrigerator to rest.

Place butternut squash on a baking sheet [I used my silicone baking mat so they wouldn’t stick to the pan], drizzle evoo over squash and toss to fully coat. Sprinkle with thyme [amount of your choice. I used around 5 stems] and a pinch of salt. Bake for 12-15 mins or until tender. Remove from oven to cool.

While your squash is cooking is a good time to cube your cucumber and drain/rinse your beans if you haven’t done so already.

You can assemble your salad how you’d like. Layer it, mix it all together or even make it look like a pretty protein bowl.. thats essentially what this is anyways.

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**I put around 1/2 cup quinoa in the bottom of my bowl, with a few spoon fulls of kidney beans, a handful of cucumbers, a hefty pinch of marinated kale [its now more tender], butternut squash, pickled shallots, hemp hearts and sprinkled with chia seeds. Then drizzled with the creamy balsamic dressing.**

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This is a simple recipe and is super versatile that can be adjusted to your likes and dietary needs. The majority of these ingredients can be grown on your homestead allowing you to make this at a fraction of the typical cost. I am so excited to grow quinoa and butternut squash [two newbies for us!] this year!

I hope you try it and enjoy!

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