St. Nick’s Brunch: Christmas Quinoa w/ Maple-Kissed Kale

This weekend I celebrated my third holiday gathering with three of my closest gal pals here in the Twin Cities. We started doing a friend-Christmas celebration the first year we all moved to Minneapolis to start grad school, and we’ve continued to share a special day in December every year since.

One of the women, Dana, has a special attachment to St. Nick’s Day, which is celebrated on December 6th, and is actually the origin of the tradition of hanging stockings. According to legend, Saint Nicholas filled the stockings of poor families with gifts on this day. Dana’s family did stockings on December 6th her whole life, so she brought that tradition to us! Since we couldn’t meet on a weekday, we had to postpone the actual celebration until the 10th, but it was St. Nick’s day in spirit! :)

We had a delicious spread for brunch. Dana made egg/english muffins for the three vegetarians in the bunch, and went out of her way to make gluten-free buckwheat banana pancakes so I’d have a vegan/gf option! What a gal! My three pals enjoyed mimosas, but I took advantage of having several cups of Dana’s famous cardamom tea! Soo yummy! Heather brought delicious bean salad, and I made a quinoa squash dish.

When Kaitlyn took a bite of my quinoa, she remarked, “This quinoa tastes like Christmas!”

What a compliment! ;)

It also looked like Christmas too; pretty red dried cranberries juxtaposed to crisp green kale, all mixed in with golden-orange butternut squash cubes. Lovely, if I do say so myself.

And like most quinoa dishes, it’s super easy to make.

Here’s what you’ll need:

1 c quinoa

2 c water

1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed

1/2 c dried cranberries or dried cherries

3 c chopped kale

1 T cinnamon

1 T olive oil

1 T maple syrup

salt + pepper to taste

Peel and chop your butternut squash. Place in pan with a drizzle of olive oil, and cook at 375 degrees. As those roast, bring 2 cups water to a boil, then add your quinoa, and switch to medium hit. Stir often until all water is absorbed.

Chop your kale and add to a large sautee pan with either a bit of water or a drizzle of olive oil. Stir often until kale starts to wilt. Add your dried cranberries to the pan. Add your cooked quinoa to the large sautee pan, and stir until everything is mixed. Add your cooked butternut squash and stir again.

Next, add your olive oil, cinnamon and maple syrup. Stir and taste, and add more if desired. Add salt and pepper, if you think it needs it.

Serve hot or cold!

We had a really special morning, and I got tons of thoughtful gifts, including: adorable snoman salt & pepper shakers; beautiful handmade tea towels; the new Niki McClure book; COOKIE STENCILS!; and a coming-soon labor history calendar! Such thoughtful friends! I made homemade granola for everyone and also got them Chinook books, which are awesome coupon books for the Twin Cities. Granola recipe coming later this week….Stay tuned!

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