planning a thin thanksgiving: maple-ginger quinoa with roasted vegetables.

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Roasted vegetables are always my favorite side dish(thanksgiving or not), and this dish takes delicious roasted vegetables and adds maple-ginger quinoa to the mix.  In case you’ve never tried it, quinoa tastes like a slightly nuttier cous cous.  It’s actually a berry, not a grain, and it packs a lot of protein.  It’s a great grain alternative for anyone who has a gluten allergy, and it’s great for vegetarians who won’t be getting protein from the turkey.  Most important though, it tastes great, and it makes the regular roasted vegetable side-dish much more satisfying.

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Remember to rinse the quinoa before cooking it.  You can buy pre-rinsed packages of quinoa (but they’re usually very expensive!), but if you don’t just rinse thoroughly in a sieve under cold running water.  Quinoa needs to be rinsed because the berries are coated by saponins, a bitter protective coating (it sort of foams up when you rinse the quinoa, so be sure to get rid of any foam while rinsing).  Other than the rinsing, quinoa is incredibly easy to cook and you can use it in so many ways!  I love eating it for breakfast (like oatmeal or cream of wheat), and use it instead of rice or cous cous for salads and side dishes.  

You can make this dish with any vegetables you like; cauliflower, brussel sprouts, yams or beets would be terrific additions.  This is great served alongside the cranberry sauce!

Maple-Ginger Quinoa with Roasted Vegetables

2 cups quinoa, rinsed
4 cups water
4 tbsp. maple syrup
1 tbsp. + 1 tsp. freshly grated ginger
2 tbsp. olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 medium red onions, cut into 1/2″ thick wedges
2 fennel bulbs, cut into 1/2″ thick wedges
12 oz. peeled, cubed, butternut squash
2 parsnips, peeled and cut into 1″ cubes
2-3 carrots (depending on how big the carrots are), peeled and cut into cubes
non-stick cooking spray
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425.

Spray one or two baking sheets with non-stick spray and place all vegetables on the baking sheets.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.  

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Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.  Remove, drizzle with 2 tbsp. maple syrup and sprinkle with 1 tsp. grated ginger.  Return to the oven and bake for 25 more minutes, until vegetables are browned and caramelized.

While vegetables are roasting, prepare the quinoa.  Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a pot over medium heat.  Whisk in 2 tbsp. maple syrup and 1 tbsp. grated ginger.  Add in the quinoa and return to a boil.  Cover the pot and continue cooking over medium heat for approximately 12 minutes, until the quinoa has absorbed all the water and is fluffy.  Off the heat fluff the quinoa with a fork and allow to cool slightly, approximately 10 minutes.  

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Combine the quinoa and vegetables and toss together with fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. 

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