Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad is like harvest in a bowl with tender squash, fluffy quinoa and an easy apple cider vinaigrette! It's on of my favorite ways to enjoy the savory flavors of fall!
Tender squash, fluffy quinoa, crunchy pecans and cranberries, all drizzled with the love from a honey apple cider vinaigrette! Aren't these amazing flavors?
Harvest season is (hopefully) wrapping up and we’ll soon be turning to all things Thanksgiving. After a hectic fall in the fields, I’m excited for healthy salad recipes like Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad. It’s a perfect salad recipe that is full of incredible flavors and the colors will amaze, too!
Oh, and it’s healthy too, but you don’t have to tell your family that. Wink, wink.
But let's be honest, after lots of sandwiches, tacos on repeat and a lot of cozy comfort foods, it's good to have something lighter on the menu.
Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad
I don’t think I’m “technically” allowed to talk about harvest being over before it actually is completed. Like, we’re not at the point where I can start asking how many acres we have left.
Ah yes, I’ve learned a thing or two during my years in this farm wife gig.
I’ve also learned how to multitask, so it should come as no surprise that the inspiration for the bright flavors in this butternut squash salad came from the cab John Deere.
There’s a lot of thinking time out there to be had, especially if you're hungry!
This recipe is made with simple ingredients. There’s really nothing fancy about what we’re working with here. It’s all in taking simple ingredients and layering them together in just the right way.
And it’s a great way to use seasonal vegetables, of course.
Tender roasted butternut squash, chewy and tangy cranberries and nutty quinoa come together in a salad recipe that feels nothing like a salad.
Ingredients in Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad
For the salad we’re bringing all the fall flavors to the salad bowl!
- butternut squash - a medium sized butternut squash should do the trick to total the 3 cups for this salad. You want to peel, seed and dice it and cut it into 1-inch pieces. , peeled and cut into
- red onion
- olive oil - we’re using this to roast the butternut squash and red onions together. This salad is all about layering flavor!
- dried cranberries - I use cranberries in a lot of my fall themed recipes. They’re juicy, and their color just makes me happy this time of year! These are sometimes referred to by the name brand Craisins. Use the no sugar added ones if you can find them.
- walnuts - we’ll toast walnuts to bring out the oils and flavor. It’s a tiny recipe step that makes a big difference and they add a nice crunch to the salad
- Quinoa - brings a nutty flavor to the dish. if you haven’t tried quinoa yet, prepare to be delighted! I’m not a nutritionist, but I do know that quinoa is a complete protein and it’s packed with protein and fiber. Nerd alert: even though we call quinoa a grain, it’s technically a seed.
- flat leaf parsley and goat cheese - optional but highly recommended! If you have leftover goat cheese, you can use it to make this goat cheese appetizer.
Then we make an maple and apple cider dressing that soaks into all the nooks and crannies of the salad
- olive oil
- apple cider vinegar - adds a nice tang w
- Pure maple syrup
- Dijon mustard
- garlic powder, salt and black pepper
Make this recipe is surprisingly simple, so don't let the recipe card below intimidate you. It's more about a few easy steps than anything and I promise to make it as easy peasy as possible.
We can break it down into five steps.
Step 1: Roast the vegetables.
Heat the oven to 425°F. Place the cubed butternut squash and red onions in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Tip: You can use pre-cut squash from the produce department at the grocery store. Roast until the squash is fork tender and vegetables are starting to brown.
Step 2: Cook the quinoa.
Cook the quinoa according to the package directions and set aside.
Step 3: Toast walnuts.
Add the walnuts to the hot, dry pan, heated over medium high heat. Cook, keeping an eye on the walnuts and stirring frequently.
Step 4: Make the dressing.
In a mason jar, combine all dressing ingredients and shake vigorously.
Step 5: Finish the salad.
In a large bowl the roasted vegetables and remaining ingredients. Top with apple cider dressing and stir to combine.
How to store leftovers
Just for some incentive, the leftovers of this quinoa salad are delish, so let that be your guiding light. Store any remaining salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
How to serve this roasted butternut squash quinoa salad
Variations and Shortcuts
Grocery stores often have precut butternut squash in their refrigerated cases. True, it may cost a little more for the convenience, but it’s a lifesaver sometimes!
Can swap out the butternut squash with sweet potatoes or add some delicata squash to the roasted butternut squash.
Sub in toasted pumpkin seeds for the walnuts.
Add in roasted brussels sprouts for some green and extra crunch.
I love the creaminess of goat cheese, but if that’s not your thing, crumbled feta cheese is awesome, too!
I think you’ll agree when you try this Butternut Squash and Cranberry Quinoa that life just got a bit tastier.
Because quinoa is a complete protein source, this salad also holds its own as a vegetarian main dish, add you can add some leftover chicken or turkey, because that's just what we do.
Take a packed lunch of this colorful salad and your co-workers well be thinking, “ooooh, fancy….”
If you make this butternut squash quinoa salad recipe, leave a recipe review or rating. I'd love to hear from you!
Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad
- 1 medium butternut squash peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces (about 3 cups)
- ½ red onion sliced into half moons
- pinch of salt and pepper
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- ⅔ cup dried cranberries
- ⅔ cup toasted walnuts
- 1 cup quinoa rinsed and drained
- 2 Tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley optional
- 4 ounces crumbled goat cheese optional
For the apple cider dressing:
- 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- Roast the vegetables. Heat the oven to 425°F. Place the squash and red onions in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 Tablespoons of the oil and use your hands or a large spoon to toss to coat. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper and spread into an even layer. Roast until the squash is fork tender and vegetables are starting to brown, about 30-35 minutes, stirring halfway through. Remove the roasted vegetables from the oven and set aside.
- Cook the quinoa. To cook quinoa on the stovetop: Add two cups of cold water to a medium pot. Add the rinsed and drained quinoa. Bring the mixture to a boil, then cover with a lid and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 15 minutes, then take the pot off the heat. Let it sit, with the lid on, for 10 minutes. Remove the lid and fluff with a fork.
- Toast walnuts: Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the walnuts to the hot, dry pan, heated over medium high heat. Cook, keeping an eye on the walnuts and stirring frequently. Don't walk away - they'll toast quickly!. As soon as you smell the walnuts, after 3-4 minutes, remove them from the heat and transfer them to a plate or paper towel to cool.
- Make the dressing: In a mason jar, combine all dressing ingredients and shake vigorously.
- Combine the salad: In a large bowl the cooked butternut squash and onions, warm quinoa, walnuts and cranberries. Top with apple cider dressing and stir to combine.
- Serve warm, at room temperature or chilled.