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When the weather gets colder, it’s nice to switch up your salads to include warm roasted vegetables and that’s what this Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad is all about! The shelves at the grocery stores at stacked with so much squash, and roasting them in the oven until it’s bubbly and caramelized adds so much flavor and taste to any salad!
One of the great things about this butternut squash quinoa salad is that it holds up really well the next day, unlike other salads with spinach or lettuce which might wilt. The kale will actually absorb all that moisture and won’t get soggy for at least 2-3 days.
ingredients & substitutions
- Butternut squash: Peel, deseed and cut the squash into cubes before roasting. Be sure to check out this step by step guide for cutting butternut squash. For ease and convenience, you can buy ready cubed butternut squash from the store. This recipe roasts the squash, but here’s a few more ways to cook butternut squash. You could substitute this for roasted acorn squash for variety.
- Oil, salt and pepper: For roasting the squash.
- Kale: Kale is a wonderful base for salads. As well as containing lots of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, it doesn’t wilt as quickly as other greens, so you can make this ahead of time.
- Quinoa: The addition of quinoa helps to bulk this salad up, so you can serve it as a main or a side dish. You can leave the quinoa out or substitute with any other grains, especially if you have any leftover from another meal. Check out my guide to how to cook the perfect quinoa.
- Pomegranate seeds: These add a burst of sweetness to the salad, and make the salad look so festive. I walk through how to cut a pomegranate with this guide.
- Feta cheese: This crumbled cheese adds a tangy flavor and creamy texture. Goat cheese would work great too, or try it with blue cheese for a real flavor hit.
- For the dressing: The simple salad dressing is made with olive oil, red wine vinegar, honey, dijon mustard, salt and pepper.
how to make butternut squash salad
- Cut up the butternut squash.
- Roast it until caramelized and fork tender.
- Whisk together the dressing.
- Massage the kale in the dressing. Yes…with your hands!
- Toss in the roasted butternut squash and quinoa. Serve and top with the pomegranate seeds and feta.
Tips for making this salad
- Cut the butternut squash into evenly sized cubes. This will help it to cook more evenly. Place it in a fully pre-heated oven for the best results.
- Massage the kale in the dressing. Kale leaves can be tough to eat, so before adding the other ingredients, massage it in the dressing to help soften it and add flavor.
- Try a different dressing. This dressing has a slight sweetness from the honey that works wonderfully with the flavors in this salad, but you can easily use another favorite. A creamy dressing would give it a really lovely texture and flavor.
- Mix up the salad ingredients. Rather than the pomegranate seeds, dried cranberries would make a great substitution, and other winter squashes can be used in place of the butternut squash. Candied walnuts are also a tasty sweet, nutty addition.
Frequently Asked Questions
This butternut squash quinoa salad is a great make ahead dish, so it’s perfect for Thanksgiving. Once made, keep the salad covered and refrigerated and it will keep well for 2 to 3 days.
Yes! This salad is easy to make plant-based. Simply swap the honey for maple syrup in the dressing and omit the feta cheese, or use a vegan alternative.
I can honestly eat this as a lunch by itself, but it makes for a wonderful side dish through fall and winter, and is perfect for your Thanksgiving table. Try it with:
Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Garlic Roasted Potatoes
Green Beans with Almonds
This butternut squash quinoa salad is rich with colors, flavors and nutrition and it’s a total winner for Thanksgiving dinner. Let’s be honest, it’ll probably be the healthiest thing on the table that night, but at least you can feel good that your healthy contribution is also beautiful and amazingly delicious!
For more fall salads:
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Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad
For the Salad
- 1 small butternut squash peeled, deseeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes or slices (about 4 cups)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 4 cups kale destemmed and cut
- ½ cup cooked quinoa
- ¼ cup pomegranate arils
- ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
For the Dressing
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400°F degrees, and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Place the butternut squash onto the prepared baking sheet and drizzle olive oil on top. Season with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Spread the squash into an even layer and roast until they soften and begin to caramelize, 30-35 minutes. Set aside to cool while preparing the rest of the salad.
- In a large serving bowl, whisk together the salad dressing ingredients. Add the chopped kale on top of the dressing, and use your hands to massage the dressing into the kale to tenderize them.
- Add the quinoa and cooled butternut squash on top of the kale and dressing and toss carefully to combine.
- Sprinkle pomegranate seeds and crumbled feta cheese on top and serve at room temperature or allow to cool in the fridge.
Nutrition information provided is an estimate. It will vary based on cooking method and specific ingredients used.
I made this dish for my church’s Christmas potluck and it was an absolute hit. I substituted dried sweetened cranberries for the pomegranate arils since they were out at the grocery store. I also left out the feta for the vegans. I made a triple recipe the night before since it did take some time to prepare the butternut squash. This dish will be a staple from now on during the holidays. Thank you so much!
That is amazing! Hope you continue to enjoy this salad during the holidays!
Love this salad! So healthy, delicious and comforting on a colder day. Will definitely remake.
Thank you! I love that!
Served it for Thanksgiving with our own homegrown Sweet Fall Squash, gonna serve it for Christmas, too. Nutricious, delicious, and so visually appealing! It’s even better the 2nd day!
That’s amazing! I’m so glad to hear it!!
What could we use instead of red wine vinegar?
If you prefer not to use it, try lemon juice instead.
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