Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Black Quinoa and Roasted Pumpkin Salad

Ever tried black quinoa? It is delicious, and very nutty-flavored. A bit fibrous. Great for salads. Cooks up quickly like its white counterpart. This quinoa salad embodies the flavors of autumn. Roasted sugar pie pumpkin with a hint of cinnamon combined with dried cranberries, roasted pecans, shallots, and a zesty dressing. Perfect for a simple, nutritious lunch or as part of your Thanksgiving feast.

Black quinoa is colored by a class of compounds called anthocyanins which protect the plant against oxidation and UV damage. Anthocyanins act as powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents that when ingested, protect our bodies against chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Our modern lifestyle has caused many people to become chronically inflamed. Stress, nutritional deficiencies, elevated toxins in our environment, and lack of sufficient antioxidants causes our bodies to produce higher levels of cytokines which cause inflammation and tissue damage. Cancer cells grow and reproduce under inflammatory conditions. Anthocyanins decrease inflammation and cause cancer cells to die (apoptosis).

Not only is black quinoa a rich source of anthocyanins but also are blueberries, black rice, black beans, blackberries, black raspberries, purple broccoli, purple cauliflower, red cabbage, cherries, and many more. Just think black, purple, dark blue, and dark red.

Black Quinoa and Roasted Pumpkin Salad

If black quinoa can't be found try red or white instead. If you don't have any sugar pie pumpkins on hand you can use any winter squash, though butternut is the easiest to peel. When choosing a pie pumpkin look for one with a smooth skin, which will make the peeling go fast. We grew over 20 sugar pie pumpkins in our little front yard garden patch this year...from only two plants! They are sitting in our garage in boxes right now. I've been using them for pies, soup, muffins, and now quinoa salads! Enjoy!

1 1/2 cups black quinoa
2 3/4 cup water
pinch sea salt

one 2-pound sugar pie pumpkin
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon Herbamare
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1 heaping cup pecans
2 cups diced shallots (or red onions)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped parsley

1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/2 teaspoon Herbamare

Optional Addition:
crumbled organic feta cheese

Rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer and place into a 2-quart pot with the water and sea salt. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Let cool completely in the pan. If you are making this for Thanksgiving, you can make the quinoa 1 to 2 days beforehand and keep it in the fridge until ready to use.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel pumpkin then slice in half, scoop out seeds (I like to use a grapefruit spoon for this). Then chop into equal sized pieces. Place into a baking dish and toss with the 2 tablespoons olive oil, Herbamare and cinnamon. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool in the pan before removing.

Place the pecans into a separate baking dish and place them into the oven. Roast for 10 minutes then cool on a plate. Chop once cool.

Saute the shallots in a little olive oil in a large pan for about 5 to 7 minutes or until soft and beginning to change color.

Place the cooled quinoa into a large bowl, add the roasted pumpkin, roasted and chopped pecans, sautéed shallots, dried cranberries, and chopped parsley.

In a small bowl whisk together the ingredients for the dressing. Pour over quinoa salad. Gently toss together and serve. Source: www.NourishingMeals.com

More Quinoa Recipes:
Quinoa Seed Crackers
Moroccan Quinoa Pilaf
Healing Quinoa Cabbage Soup

About the Author

Alissa Segersten holds a Bachelor's of Science in Nutrition from Bastyr University. She is the founder of Whole Life Nutrition, the mother of five children, a whole foods cooking instructor, professional recipe developer, and cookbook author. She is passionate about helping others find a diet that will truly nourish them, and offers elimination diet recipes, healthy gluten-free recipes, paleo and vegan recipes, as well as tips for feeding your family a nourishing, whole foods diet. Alissa is the author of two very popular gluten-free, whole foods cookbooks and guidebooks: The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook and Nourishing Meals. She is also the co-author of The Elimination Diet book. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram!


  1. I love the pumpkin quinoa combo! This reminds me of my favorite quinoa dish in the Whole Foods Market prepared section I get without fail every time! Thanks for the recipe can;t wait to try it :)

  2. Great recipe but I can not buy black quinoa in Hungary. Can I make it from white one too?

  3. Thanks, Ali. Now I know what I'm doing with the other half of a butternut squash I used yesterday. You've packed so much good stuff into one beautiful dish.

  4. I just love your blog on healthy eating. The recipe is just another example of excellence. I have two sugar pumpkins that need tending to and look forward to making this salad.

  5. This is an awesome looking recipe Ali! I'll see if I can find back quinoa.... And thanks for the info on the anthocyanins in black quinoa. I've been thinking a lot about inflammation (and ways to reduce it) lately and so this post has come up at the exact right time for me! Time to start hunting down black, purple and deep red fruits and vegetables!

  6. I had not heard of black Quinoa, very cool. What do you recommend for one who is avoiding citrus :) Fun for thanksgiving-Thanks!

  7. This looks amazing. Thank you!

  8. Ooh, I haven't tried black - just red quinoa and the regular stuff. Looks like a fun savory Halloween recipe with the orange pumpkin and black quinoa contrast!

  9. This recipe sounds like an autumnized version of the Quinoa salad that I love for the summer. Looking forward to trying it.

  10. What a great combination. I'm getting lots of CSA pumpkins lately, so this is perfect timing. I love the colors in that photograph. Beautiful!

  11. Thanks everyone!

    Jenna - Try using a good organic apple cider in place of the orange juice and omit the zest. It should be very tasty this way too. :)

  12. Ali, this looks lovely. I'm teaching a GF Thanksgiving class tonight and will be including this recipe with a link to your blog. I especially love the substitution suggestions. I try to stay away from citrus because the acid bothers me, so I'll try it with apple cider instead. Plus I'll be using a butternut squash. One of the things I like to teach people in my classes is that recipes are blueprints that can be played with and altered per your ingredients, time of year, mood, etc. Your recipes really lend themselves to edits. Thank you!!!!!

  13. I love this recipe! Funny but true- I have been playing with a quinoa recipe with thai seasonings and roasted pumpkin. I've even used black quinoa! Now I'll have to pick a different kind of quinoa or something or everyone will think I copied you! lol. Love the seasonings and holiday flair.

    *hugs* Sea

  14. Love quinoa...never heard of black. Who makes it? This salad sounds perfectly delicious, minus the nuts.(boys have nut allergies)I am always on the look out for another way to eat my quinoa, with all the squash in season, the combination is perfect. susan H. @ the food allergy chronicles

  15. I've never seen black quinoa but I love how it looks in your autumn salad. Beautiful, I will have to watch for it. Appreciate the nutritional info as well. Yours is one of my favourite blogs! Thanks for sharing

  16. I just wanted to let you know that I made this salad when a group of friends came around for a barbecue last weekend. None of them had tried quinoa before and they were all entranced. I loved the flavour of the orange zest, and it was just as good the following day. thank you for your wonderful recipes and every post is chock-a-block full of wonderful information.


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Thanks and Happy Cooking! ~Ali :)