New Orleans native author to dine with Ernest J. Gaines and his wife _lowres

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Dianne Gaines' Quinoa, Kale, Cranberry, Walnut and Butternut Squash Salad

Quinoa, Kale, Cranberry, Walnut and Butternut Squash Salad

Makes 8 servings. Recipe by Rachel J. Weston in “The Costco Connection.”

Salad

1½ cups quinoa

½ teaspoon kosher salt

3 cups water

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 red onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1½ cups butternut squash, peeled and cut into ½-inch dice

Kosher salt and pepper to taste

Dressing

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon raspberry jam

¼ cup olive oil

Kosher salt and pepper to taste

1½ cups kale, ribs removed, cut into ½-inch ribbons

½ cup dried cranberries

½ cup chopped walnuts

1. In a large saucepan, bring the quinoa, ½ teaspoon salt and water to a boil. Reduce the heat to low cover and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the tail of the quinoa unfurls. Remove from the heat, fluff with a fork and place in a large bowl to cool for 20 minutes.

2. While the quinoa is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet, add the onion and cook until onion turns translucent. Add the garlic and squash. Cover with a lid and cook for about 10 minutes over medium-low heat, until the squash is tender when tested with the tip of a knife. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Let cool to room temperature.

3. Whisk together the garlic, vinegar, mustard and jam in a small bowl. In a steady, slow stream, add the olive oil while whisking continuously. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

4. Gently fold the cooked vegetables, quinoa and kale together with the vinaigrette, dried cranberries and walnuts. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Note: Dianne Gaines uses pecans instead of walnuts.