Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad
This roasted butternut squash quinoa salad packs in plenty of texture and flavour making it a standout salad perfect for everything from weeknight meals to packed lunches and special occasions.
About the Recipe
This wholesome roasted butternut squash quinoa salad is the perfect way to get your veggies in the Fall and Winter months when cold salads are less than appealing.
It features roasted butternut squash and red onion, roasted chickpeas, quinoa, kale, parsley, pepitas and a tangy vinaigrette.
It’s easy to customize too, you can easily use spinach instead of kale, skip the kale entirely, add cranberries, feta or pomegranate or make it with wild rice or sweet potato.
It’s a great base recipe to experiment with!
This salad holds up well for leftovers so it’s a great choice for meal prep and making ahead. It can also be dressed up with pomegranates or cranberries to make it a lovely addition to a holiday meal.
This section covers notes on ingredients and substitutions. Please see the printable recipe card at the end of the post for the full recipe with ingredient measurements.
- Quinoa: You can use any variety of quinoa such as white, red or tri-colour. I like to rinse my quinoa well before cooking. Farro, barley or wild rice would work well as a substitute.
- Butternut Squash: You’ll need 1 medium-sized butternut squash or about 6 cups cubed. The amount doesn’t have to be exact though, so any medium-ish squash works! You can also use other varieties such as delicata squash or acorn squash.
- Red Onion: You can substitute white or yellow onion if you don’t have red onion on hand.
- Oil: There’s some oil used for roasting as well as in the dressing. You can use any neutral oil for roasting the veggies and chickpeas but I’d suggest extra-virgin olive oil for the dressing.
- Ground Herbs & Spices: You’ll need cumin, thyme, garlic powder and smoked paprika. Smoked paprika is really nice for roasted chickpeas but if you don’t have smoked paprika, regular paprika is ok.
- Chickpeas: You’ll need 1 19 oz can of chickpeas, which is about 2 cups. The amount doesn’t have to be exact so feel free to use a little more less depending on what you have on hand.
- Apple Cider Vinegar: You’ll need this for the dressing. If you don’t have apple cider vinegar, you can substitue red wine vinegar or white wine vinegar.
- Maple Syrup: You’ll need a little maple syrup to balance the acidity in the dressing. You can substitute agave syrup if you like.
- Dijon Mustard: A tangy, grainy dijon mustard works well but if you don’t have grainy mustard on hand, regular dijon mustard is ok.
- Parsley: You’ll need fresh parsley.
- Kale: You’ll need fresh kale, any variety works but I recommend Tuscan/Lacinato kale for salads. Baby spinach or arugula are suitable substitutes but I like kale because it holds up better for leftovers. You can also leave the kale out for a variation.
- Pumpkin Seeds: These are optional for topping. You can substitute any other seed or nut such as slivered almonds or walnuts. Hemp seeds or sunflower seeds also work well.
- This recipe is also good without the kale if you want it to be more quinoa and butternut squash than greens. I like it both ways.
- Sweet potato works well in place of butternut squash.
- Try wild rice instead of quinoa.
- Add 2-3 peeled and chopped carrots or quartered Brussels sprouts with the squash and onion.
- If you don’t have chickpeas on hand, try adding a can of drained and rinsed white beans.
- For alternative dressings, this glory bowl dressing, tahini miso dressing or tahini maple dijon dressing work well.
- For additional herbs, try 2-3 tbsp of finely chopped fresh mint and/or dill.
- Top with your choice of feta cheese.
- Add dried cranberries or raisins.
- Add pomegranate arils.
- Add 1-2 cups shredded red or green cabbage.
- Add chopped walnuts or pecans.
- Add 1-2 diced apples like Granny Smith.
There are essentially 4 parts to this salad: quinoa, roasted butternut squash, roasted chickpeas and dressing.
It may seem like there’s a lot to do but it comes together in about 45 minutes including prep time. Let’s take a look at the best recipe flow that will have you enjoying this wholesome salad in no time.
Cook the Quinoa
First, start the quinoa. The quinoa is made on the stovetop in about 15 minutes. Cook it with the salt and garlic powder for just a bit of extra flavour.
Roast Squash and Chickpeas
Next, the roasted squash and chickpeas. Here’s how I recommend preparing the squash.
- Cut the top and bottom off the squash and peel it.
- Cut it in half so you have the top half and bottom half.
- Remove the seeds and pulp from the bottom half.
- Cut into cubes.
Add the cubed squash, onion, cumin, thyme and oil to a large baking sheet, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat the cubes, spreading it out in an even layer.
Bake the squash on the middle rack for about 25 minutes untli golden and tender.
Add the chickpeas to a second baking sheet and toss with oil, garlic powder and smoked paprika, seasoning with salt and pepper and shaking the pan to coat.
Roast the chickpeas for about 20 minutes, shaking the pan halfway through, until crisp.
Make the Dressing
Next is the dressing and it’s easy! Just mix all the dressing ingredients together in a large mixing or serving bowl until fully combined.
I like to mix the dressing up right in the bowl I’ll make the salad in to save an extra dish.
Assemble the Salad
Now you can assemble your salad. Add the cooked quinoa, kale, parsley, roasted squash and onion, and half of the chickpeas to the bowl with the dressing and mix it all up.
Serve with the remaining roasted chickpeas and toasted pumpkin seeds and enjoy!
To toast the pumpkin seeds, either purchase them toasted or add them to a dry frying pan and cook for 3-4 minutes over medium-high heat, shaking occasionally and watching carefully not to burn them. They will puff up a bit and even pop.
Frequently Asked Questions
Sure. You can use frozen butternut squash cubes. There’s no need to thaw it or make any changes to the recipe.
How to Store
- Store the salad for up to 4 days in an airtight container in the fridge.
- You can eat leftovers cold or warm them in the microwave.
- This recipe is not suitable for freezing.
Butternut Squash Recipes
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A nourishing butternut squash and quinoa salad with crunchy chickpeas, pepitas, red onion, kale and a tangy vinaigrette. This wholesome salad is perfect for everything from weeknight dinners to holiday meals.
For the Quinoa
- 1 cup dried quinoa, rinsed (just over 3 cups cooked)
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ tsp garlic powder
For the Butternut Squash
- 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed (6 cups, 830 g)
- 1 red onion (2 cups, 210 g)
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- Salt and pepper
For the Chickpeas
- 1 (540 ml) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 2 tsp oil
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp smoked paprika
- Salt and pepper
For the Dressing
- 4 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp grainy Dijon mustard
- 1 garlic clove, minced or grated
- ¼ cup olive oil
- Salt and pepper
For the Salad
- ¾ cup chopped parsley (40g)
- 4 cups packed thinly sliced kale (85 g) or baby spinach
- ½ cup toasted pumpkin seeds, optional
- Preheat oven to 425 F
- Cook Quinoa: In a medium pot, add quinoa, salt, garlic powder and 1 ½ cups water. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low. Cover and cook for 13-15 min, until quinoa is tender and water is absorbed. Remove from heat. Let rest, covered, for 5 min, then fluff quinoa with a fork.
- Roast Squash: On a large baking sheet (can be parchment-lined, if desired), add squash, onion, cumin, thyme and 1 tbsp oil. Season with salt and pepper, then toss to coat. Spread out in an even layer. Roast on the middle rack of the oven, for 25-28 min, tossing halfway through, until golden and tender.
- Roast Chickpeas: On another baking sheet, add chickpeas, 2 tsp oil, garlic powder and smoked paprika. Season with salt and pepper, then toss to combine. Roast on the upper rack of the oven for 20-22 min, tossing halfway through, until crisp.
- Make Dressing: To a large bowl, add vinegar, maple syrup, mustard, garlic and oil. Season with salt and pepper, then whisk to combine.
- Assemble Salad: To the bowl with dressing, add cooked quinoa, kale, parsley, roasted veggies and half the chickpeas. Season with salt and pepper, then stir to combine.
- Serve: Transfer salad to a serving bowl. Top with remaining chickpeas and toasted pumpkin seeds, if using.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Enjoy cold or reheat in the microwave until heated through.
- Serving Size: 1
- Calories: 430
- Sugar: 6 g
- Fat: 22 g
- Carbohydrates: 50 g
- Fiber: 10 g
- Protein: 13 g
Keywords: butternut squash quinoa salad, quinoa salad with butternut squash
Originally published July 26, 2019.