Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad
In my personal heaven, I open my refrigerator door to reveal a bright array of tidy, well-organized, and uniform containers, each containing a wholesome, beautiful meal like today’s Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad with Cranberries.
In my personal reality, my refrigerator is an interactive game of three-dimensional tetris.
Mismatched containers of leftovers jockey for position among assorted blocks of cheese. Lids don’t fit properly, jars of half-empty condiments are stacked haphazardly throughout, and every time I open the door, I wonder if an apple is going to roll out and land on my foot. It’s a dangerous place, my refrigerator.
Despite the container chaos and the fact that Ben cannot locate a single item unless I describe its location, lid color, and shoe size in excruciating detail, when I take time to plan and cook my meals in advance, I’m excited to open my refrigerator, rogue apple not withstanding.
Such was the case the week I made this Butternut Squash Salad with Quinoa and Cranberries. It’s nothing fancy, but every bite hits the spot at mealtime…or anytime you feel like sneaking a quick bite.
This salad is flavorful, healthy, and filling. The cubes of butternut squash are roasted with a touch of maple syrup, the quinoa provides a pleasant nuttiness and protein boost, and cranberries give the salad a pleasant sweetness and tang. Pepitas (a.k.a. pumpkin seeds) add crunch and savoriness, while thyme gives the Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad a warmth and distinct fall-ness that is right on time for the change in seasons.
To keep the Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad from being too sweet, I tossed it in a quick Dijon maple vinaigrette. The dressing plays harmoniously with the maple notes in the squash and gives the salad a lightness and brightness that will keep you wandering back to the fridge to snitch an extra bite.
If you can find the container, that is. I recommend positioning it directly in front!
Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad
Maple Roasted Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad with Cranberries. Healthy and filled with fall flavors. Great for meal prep, a simple side, or healthy lunch!
Yield: about 7 cups
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
FOR THE BUTTERNUT SQUASH SALAD:
- 1/2 small red onion, diced (about 1/4 cup)
- 1 small (2-pound) butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 3/4-inch chunks (about 3 1/2 cups)
- 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable stock (or water)
- 3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
- 1/2 cup reduced-sugar dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds), or roughly chopped toasted walnuts or pecans
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme (or 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley)
FOR THE DRESSING:
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the red onion in a small bowl and cover with water. Set aside. (This keeps the onion’s flavor but helps soften its harsh bite…and endless onion aftertaste.)
- Place the butternut squash in the center of a large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and maple syrup, then sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Toss to evenly coat, then spread the squash into a single layer. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, turning once, until tender. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- While the squash is baking, bring the broth (or water) and quinoa to a boil in a medium pan. If you are using water, add 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and let cook 15 minutes, until the water is absorbed. Remove from the heat and let stand with the lid on for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork, then transfer to a large serving bowl.
- In a small bowl or large measuring cup (or a mason jar with a tight-fitting lid), combine the dressing ingredients: olive oil, vinegar, mustard, maple syrup, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Drizzle enough of the dressing over the warm quinoa to moisten it, then stir to combine.
- Scrape the roasted butternut squash and any pan juices into the bowl with the quinoa. Add the cranberries, pepitas, and thyme. Drain the red onion then add it to the bowl. Toss to combine, adding more dressing as desired. (I like to reserve a little of the dressing for adding to leftovers.) Serve warm or at room temperature.
- You can enjoy this salad on its own or try mixing it with arugula or spinach for an extra serving of greens. For the sake of streamlining the ingredients, I omitted the cheese, but if you feel so called, feta, goat cheese, or even a mild blue cheese such as gorgonzola would be delightful additions too.
- No butternut squash? Try swapping diced, cubed sweet potatoes (note that they may need a little longer in the oven to roast).
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Serving Size: 1 (of 6)
- Amount Per Serving:
- Calories: 261 Calories
- Total Fat: 11g
- Saturated Fat: 1g
- Sodium: 339mg
- Carbohydrates: 39g
- Fiber: 7g
- Sugar: 7g
- Protein: 5g
Did you try this recipe? I want to see! Follow Well Plated on Instagram, snap a photo, and tag it #wellplated. I love to know what you are making!