Aztec Grain Salad

What's Cooking USDA
Makes 6 servings
Aztec Grain Salad combines a South American, high-protein grain called quinoa with aromatic roasted butternut squash, crisp apples, and dried cranberries to make a delicious and colorful side dish.

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  1. Preheat oven to 400 °F.
  2. Rinse quinoa in a fine mesh strainer until water runs clear, not cloudy. Combine quinoa and 3 cups water in a medium pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to low and simmer until water is completely absorbed, about 10-15 minutes. When done, quinoa will be soft and a white ring will pop out of the kernel. The white ring will appear only when it is fully cooked. Fluff with a fork. Cover and refrigerate. A rice cooker may be used with the same quantity of quinoa and water.
  3. Combine apples and squash in a large mixing bowl. Add canola oil, 1/8 tsp ginger, and 1/4 tsp cinnamon. Toss well to coat.
  4. Pour apples/squash mixture onto a large baking sheet and place in oven at 400 °F. Roast for 15 minutes or until squash is soft and slightly brown on the edges. Do not overcook. Remove and set aside to cool.
  5. In a medium mixing bowl, combine orange juice, olive oil, honey, Dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, salt, peppers, cilantro, and remaining ginger and cinnamon. Whisk together to make dressing.
  6. In a large mixing bowl, combine quinoa, apples/squash mix, cranberries, raisins, and dressing. Toss well to combine. If desired, garnish with additional cilantro. Cover and refrigerate for about 2 hours. Serve chilled.



1 1/2 cups Quinoa, dry

1 3/4 cups Fresh granny smith apples, peeled, cored, cubed 3/4"
1 3/4 cups Fresh butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cubed 1/2"
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup frozen orange juice concentrate
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
1/3 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 dash ground black pepper
1 dash ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon Fresh cilantro, chopped (Optional: use additional cilantro as a garnish)
1/3 cup Dried cranberries, finely chopped
1/3 cup Golden raisins, seedless, finely chopped


Medium pot, knife, cutting board, roasting pan, large mixing bowl

More About Butternut Squash

How to Select

Choose a squash heavy for its size. Squash should be firm and free of bruises.

How to Store

Store in a cool, dark place for up to a month. Once cut, refrigerate unused portion.

How to Prepare

Add to stews and soups, steam and drizzle with olive oil, prepare in a curry, bake and stuff with apples, add cooked squash to canned black beans with a dash of cinnamon and cumin, mash with yams, season with ginger and cinnamon, or simply cube and roast.