Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad

Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad is a hearty vegan quinoa salad with roasted butternut squash, pomegranate and a tangy, sweet apple cider maple dressing!

butternut squash quinoa salad on a platter

**This post was originally published in October 2012.  The photos, text and recipe have been updated.

Seven long years ago I attended a potluck at a barre studio, and the owner served a butternut squash quinoa salad.  Quinoa was the trendy new thing back then, so I was really excited about that salad.  

I really enjoyed it, and got right to work creating my own version.  

And guess what?  I still love this butternut squash quinoa today.  I’m the only one in my house that eats quinoa, but I’m ok with that.

That just means there’s more for me. šŸ™‚

close up of butternut squash quinoa salad

Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad

This salad is truly fall in a bowl.  It’s packed with gorgeous colors, fall flavors, and amazing textures that make it unforgettable.

Tender, roasted butternut squash is combined with hearty quinoa, baby kale, green onions, pomegranate arils and pecans, and it’s all tossed in a tangy, sweet apple cider maple dressing.

I love that this salad is versatile enough to be a main dish, side dish or lunch.  It’s also perfect for entertaining as it can be made in advance.

The fact that it’s easy on the eyes doesn’t hurt either. šŸ™‚

What is quinoa?

Quinoa (keen-wah) is considered an ancient grain, but it’s not really a grain at all.  It’s actually a seed from a plant that’s closely related to beets and spinach.

While quinoa isn’t a grain, it’s often prepared like rice, barley and other grains.  That’s where the similarities end, however, because quinoa is much more nutritious than most grains.

Benefits of quinoa

Below are some of the reasons why quinoa is dubbed a superfood:

  • it’s a good source of protein and contains all nine essential amino acids
  • it’s high in iron, magnesium, antioxidants and other minerals
  • it contains a large amount of flavonoids which have anti-inflammatory 
  • it contains more fiber than any other grain
  • it’s gluten-free
  • it’s low glycemic index, which is good to control blood sugar

overhead of butternut squash quinoa salad on a platter

How to prep and cut butternut squash

It only takes about 5 minutes to break down a butternut squash.  This can be done ahead, or you can always buy pre-cut butternut squash to make meal prep even easier.

  • Peel the butternut squash. 
  • Cut the top and bottom off the squash, then cut the squash just above the round bottom portion. Stand the top and bottom portions upright on a cutting board and cut each in half from top to bottom.  
  • Scoop the seeds out of the bottom portion with a spoon.
  • Lay each piece cut side down on the cutting board and cut into 1 1/2 to 2″ chunks.

How to make butternut squash quinoa salad

butternut squash quinoa salad process shot

This butternut squash quinoa is extremely easy to make, and the components may be prepped ahead.

Roast the butternut squash:

Toss 2 cups of cubed butternut squash with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes until tender and caramelized.

Cook the quinoa:

Rinse the quinoa well and cook according to package instructions.  Place in a colander, rinse with cold water and drain well.

Make the dressing:

Place all ingredients in a mason jar and seal the lid tightly.  Shake vigorously until emulsified.

Assemble the salad:

Place the quinoa, baby kale, green onion, pomegranate, and pecans in a large bowl.  Toss with the desired amount of dressing, serve and enjoy!

Recipe tips and substitutions

  • The butternut squash may be substituted with your favorite winter squash like delicata, kabocha, pumpkin or red kuri squash.
  • If you’re not a fan of pomegranate, you may substitute it with dried cranberries.
  • Substitute walnuts for the pecans if desired.
  • This butternut squash quinoa salad is great for meal prep!  Store in air tight containers in the fridge for 3-5 days.
  • Change things up by adding feta or goat cheese!  Apples or pears would also be a great addition.
  • Purchase pre-toasted pecans for a time saver, or place pecans on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until fragrant.

overhead shot of butternut squash quinoa salad with wooden servers

Need more salad inspiration?  See all of my Salad Recipes.

More butternut squash recipes:

Butternut squash casserole

Butternut squash kale salad

Butternut squash soup

More quinoa recipes:

Breakfast quinoa bowls

Quinoa chili

Quinoa enchilada bake by Vanilla and Bean

Pesto quinoa bowls

 

Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad is a hearty vegan quinoa salad with roasted butternut squash, pomegranate and a tangy, sweet apple cider maple dressing!

Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad

Ingredients

For the salad:

  • 1 cup quinoa, cooked according to package instructions and rinse with cold water and drain well
  • 2 cups cubed butternut squash*
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped baby kale
  • 1 large green onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate arils
  • 1/2 cup toasted pecans

For the dressing:

  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

Prepare the salad:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the butternut squash on a large rimmed baking sheet, and toss with the 2 tablespoons olive oil and salt and pepper, to taste.
  2. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the squash is tender and caramelized.
  3. Place the quinoa, squash, baby kale, green onion, pomegranate and pecans in a large bowl.

Prepare the dressing:

  1. Place all dressing ingredients in a mason jar and seal the lid tightly. Shake vigorously until emulsified and adjust the seasoning as necessary.
  2. Toss the salad with the desired amount of dressing until well coated, then serve and enjoy!

Notes

  • The butternut squash may be substituted with your favorite winter squash like delicata, kabocha, pumpkin or red kuri squash.
  • If you're not a fan of pomegranate, you may substitute it with dried cranberries.
  • Substitute walnuts for the pecans if desired.
  • This butternut squash quinoa salad is great for meal prep!Ā  Store in air tight containers in the fridge for 3-5 days.
  • Change things up by adding feta or goat cheese!Ā  Apples or pears would also be a great addition.
  • Purchase pre-toasted pecans for a time saver, or place pecans on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until fragrant.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

6

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 274 Total Fat: 21g Saturated Fat: 3g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 17g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 84mg Carbohydrates: 22g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 5g Sugar: 6g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 4g
Nutrition information is mean to be an estimate only. The numbers will vary based on the quantity consumed, brands used and substitutions that are made. This information includes all of the salad dressing, though you may not need it all.

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