Quinoa Salad with Butternut Squash

5 from 1 vote
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Healthy, colorful, and flavorful Roasted Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad is tossed with a simple balsamic dressing and pomegranate seeds to make it a fabulous seasonal side dish for weeknights or holidays. You can enjoy it hot or cold, and even add goat cheese or your favorite protein to make it a satisfying meal. A great meal prep recipe to make ahead.

Quinoa with roasted butternut squash and pomegranate in a serving bowl.

Delicious Details at a Glance

Cuisine Inspiration: American
Primary Cooking Method: Oven, Stovetop
Dietary Info: Gluten-free, Nut-free, Vegan option
Skill Level: Easy

Why You’ll Love this Quinoa Salad

Quinoa is a healthy gluten free whole grain packed with fiber and protein. However, if your family is anything like mine, sometimes it can be a challenge to get them to eat it. While it can be kind of boring on its own, it’s truly a blank slate.

That’s why I decided to pair it with two ingredients I obsess over in the fall and winter – pomegranates and butternut squash! Toss it all in a simple balsamic dressing, and it becomes hard to resist. Here’s why we love this butternut squash quinoa salad and why you will too.

  • Naturally gluten free. This recipe was inspired by the Farro Salad with Pomegranate, Goat Cheese and Walnuts from Carrie’s Experimental Kitchen. When I first saw the recipe, I fell in love with the flavors, colors, and textures she used. But with the wheat allergy, farro isn’t something I can eat. So I thought I would just make the exact recipe, but sub in quinoa.
  • Prep the way you want to. Quinoa is super simple to make in a pot on the stove, as instructed on most packages. But it can also be made in your Instant Pot, slow cooker, rice cooker, or even the microwave. And you can roast your squash in the oven or air fryer. Do any of this when you have time, then just toss it together to serve.
  • Enjoy it warm or cold. You can enjoy it right away as a hot side dish. Or store it in the fridge to have for lunch all week because it makes a delicious cold salad. The flavors blend and mellow as it sits in the fridge.
  • Dairy free and vegan option. The quinoa can be cooked in vegetable or chicken broth, or just water. And while I like to sprinkle it with a little goat cheese, that’s completely optional.
A hand holding a spoon scooping out of a bowl of butternut squash quinoa with goat cheese on top.

Quinoa Salad Ingredients

Here is a quick overview of what you’ll need to make this recipe. Be sure to scroll to the recipe card for the full amounts and instructions.

  • Butternut squash. Cut into cubes and roasted in the oven or cooked in the air fryer. Use a whole squash or buy pre-cut cubes from the grocery store.
  • Uncooked quinoa. Rinsed and drained
  • Stock or broth. You can use chicken or vegetable, depending on whether you want to make it vegetarian. Cooking the quinoa in salted water is fine too, but the broth adds more flavor.
  • Pomegranate. Remove the seeds or just buy a container of pomegranate arils.
  • Balsamic vinegar.
  • Olive oil.
  • Fresh sage. You can use a pinch of dried sage, if that’s what you have.
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. To taste
  • Crumbled goat cheese. Optional to sprinkle on top before serving.

Variations

  • Make it nutty: throw in a handful of toasted pecans or walnuts, or even pumpkin seeds/pepitas.
  • Add some protein: mix in leftover rotisserie chicken or cooked turkey, or chickpeas for a plant-based option.
  • Eat your greens: stir in arugula, kale, or spinach, or just spoon it over a salad.
  • Get cheesy: stir in goat cheese while it is warm to make it creamy. I love goat cheese sprinkled on top, especially when eating it cold, but feta would be great too.

How to Make Butternut Squash Quinoa

This quinoa salad comes together in a flash, especially if you use leftover Honey Roasted Butternut Squash and cooked quinoa you have in your fridge. But if you start from scratch, you can assemble everything while the squash is roasting.

Roast the squash. Cut the top and bottom off of the squash, and peel with a vegetable peeler. Cut into 3/4-inch cubes. Toss it with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and spread into a single layer on an oiled baking sheet. Roast at 400°F for 35-40 minutes, tossing once.

Cook the quinoa. You can use any of five ways to cook quinoa (stovetop, microwave, slow cooker, Instant Pot, or rice cooker), substituting chicken or vegetable broth for the water to infuse more flavor.

Assemble the quinoa salad. While everything is cooking, remove the arils from your pomegranate. Now just combine the roasted squash, cooked quinoa, pomegranate arils, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and sage in a bowl and toss everything together. Then season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with goat cheese before serving, if desired.

Butternut squash quinoa in a decorative serving bowl with a spoon in it.

Storing and Reheating Leftovers

This dish can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. So you can save any leftovers or make it ahead for meal prep if you want to enjoy it for lunch all week. I do not recommend freezing it, as the texture may become mushy.

You can enjoy it cold as a salad. It is quite delicious this way. The quinoa has absorbed even more of the flavor of the balsamic vinegar, and when cold it gets a little more of a chewy, nutty texture.

However, you can also reheat it in the microwave or in a pot on the stove. If cooking on the stove, you may want to add a splash of broth. And be sure to stir it gently so the squash doesn’t get, well, squashed.

A bowl of quinoa with butternut squash and pomegranate seeds topped with minced sage.

Make it a Meal

This butternut squash quinoa salad is extremely versatile. It’s fancy and festive to enjoy for the holidays, but quick and easy enough for weeknight meals. It’s even great to make in advance for lunches throughout the week Here are a few ideas.

A bowl of quinoa with roasted butternut squash cubes and pomegranate seeds on top of a red plaid cloth napkin.
5 from 1 vote

Roasted Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad

Healthy, colorful, and flavorful Roasted Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad is tossed with a simple balsamic dressing and pomegranate seeds to make it a fabulous seasonal side dish for weeknights or holidays. You can enjoy it hot or cold, and even add goat cheese or your favorite protein to make it a satisfying meal. A great meal prep recipe to make ahead.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes
Total: 50 minutes

Ingredients

For the quinoa:

  • 1-1 1/2 cups roasted butternut squash (see Note)
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups vegetable or chicken stock/broth
  • 1 pomegranate (seeds only, or about 1 cup)
  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Optional: 1/4 to 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese

Instructions

  • If you are not using leftover roasted butternut squash, then roast the squash using the directions in the Note.
  • While the squash is roasting, prepare the quinoa. Combine rinsed quinoa with broth or stock in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat and simmer with the lid on. Cook until all the liquid has been absorbed, about 10-20 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for about 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
  • In a bowl, combine the roasted squash, cooked quinoa, and remaining ingredients.
  • Serve immediately, with goat cheese sprinkled on top, if desired. Or store in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Enjoy it cold, or reheat in the microwave or in a pot on the stove, adding a little more broth or stock, if needed.

Notes

To roast butternut squash:
You’ll need:
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes (about 2-3 cups raw cubes)
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
What to do:
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Spray a baking sheet with olive oil or cooking spray.
  2. Toss the squash with the olive oil and salt, and spread in a single layer on the baking sheet.
  3. Roast for about 35-40 minutes, or until tender, tossing after 15 minutes.
Nutrition Facts
Roasted Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad
Amount Per Serving (1 serving)
Calories 177 Calories from Fat 45
% Daily Value*
Fat 5g8%
Saturated Fat 1g5%
Sodium 292mg12%
Potassium 457mg13%
Carbohydrates 30g10%
Fiber 4g16%
Sugar 6g7%
Protein 5g10%
Vitamin A 4961IU99%
Vitamin C 18mg22%
Calcium 43mg4%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Disclaimers: Please discuss your individual dietary needs (i.e. gluten free) with a physician. Even when not specified, be sure to verify all ingredients are gluten free, if needed, by reading labels on all packaging and/or confirming with the manufacturer this varies by brand and can change at any time. Nutrition information shown is an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate.

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8 Comments
  1. 5 stars
    Brianne,
    I’m in love with this quinoa recipe. The photo just screams “I’m great, dine on me now!” What a lovely recipe. Thanks for sharing with me in the round up group. I’ll be using this in my quinoa round up. 🙂

  2. THANK YOU so much Brianne for sharing my book release…of course I’ll sign it! AND for the wonderful adaptation you made to the salad. I can’t seem to get the family to eat quinoa warm but maybe they’ll eat it this way..keep trying! xo

5 from 1 vote

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