Nourishing Fall Quinoa Salad with Kale & Butternut Squash
Full with delicious flavour and nourishing ingredients, this Fall Quinoa Salad makes a perfect side dish, packed lunch, or holiday potluck contribution. With quinoa for healthy carbs and protein, kale and butternut squash for fibre, pumpkin seeds for texture, and dried cranberries for a touch of sweetness, this salad is hearty and satisfying. It’s finished off with a quick and easy Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing!
This year, I’m doing my best to embrace everything that the fall season has to offer. Crisp mornings, the colour of the leaves, chunky knit sweaters, and lots of nourishing fall recipes.
This includes salads. Yes – with the right ingredients – salads can be cozy and comforting too! Take my Warm Roasted Brussels Sprouts Salad for example. Or my Autumn Kale Salad made with lentils and delicata squash.
And, of course, this Fall Quinoa Salad recipe full of autumn flavours, texture, and nutrition! I love meal prepping this salad for easy lunches throughout the week, but it also makes a great side dish or potluck contribution (hello, Thanksgiving!)
Fall Quinoa Salad Ingredients:
Here’s what you’ll need to make this nourishing fall quinoa salad recipe:
- Butternut squash
- Red onion
- Pumpkin seeds
- Dried cranberries
- Feta cheese
You’ll also need just a few simple ingredients (that you probably already have) to make the easy Maple Balsamic Dressing.
Nutrition Benefits of This Fall Quinoa Salad Recipe:
As a Registered Dietitian, it’s pretty clear that I love to nerd out on all things nutrition. Let’s take a look at the ingredients in this recipe along with some of their nutritional benefits:
- Quinoa: While many think that quinoa is a grain, it’s actually a seed. However, we tend to prepare and eat it as we would a grain like rice. Quinoa is rich in fibre, and it’s also a complete protein. This means that it contains all of the essential amino acids (the components that make up protein) that our bodies can’t make on their own.
- Kale: It was a touted as the ultimate “superfood” back in the day, and – I mean – it does have some great nutritional qualities! Kale is a dark leafy green, so it’s a source of vitamin K and a plant-based source of iron. Like quinoa, it’s also a good source of fibre which we know is important for good digestion, stable blood sugar levels, and feeling full after eating.
- Butternut squash: With it’s bright yellow-orange colour, butternut squash is a good source of beta-carotene (which converts to vitamin A in the body) that is important for good vision health. Butternut squash is also rich in vitamin C, potassium, and is a source of vitamin B6.
- Pumpkin seeds: I’m such a big fan of pumpkin seeds! They’re a great supplementary source of protein, offering 5 grams of protein per ounce, along with fibre, magnesium, and antioxidants.
Dressing for This Quinoa Salad:
Upon creating this autumn quinoa salad recipe, I knew that my Maple Balsamic Dressing would be the perfect match. It’s quick and easy to prepare (like 2 minutes easy), the ingredients are simple, and the maple and balsamic flavours pair perfectly with the caramelized butternut squash and nutty quinoa in the salad.
All you need to make the Maple Balsamic Dressing is:
- Olive oil
- Balsamic Vinegar
- Maple syrup
- Dijon mustard
- Salt & pepper
Is This Quinoa Salad Made With Feta Cheese?
Yes, the entire salad recipe (which serves 4-6) calls for 1/3 cup of crumbled feta cheese. It adds that little bit of extra flavour and saltiness that every salad needs!
You can always substitute the feta cheese for another softer, crumbled cheese like goat cheese. If you’re vegan or dairy-free, you can always just omit the feta cheese altogether, or use a plant-based variety.
Do I Serve This Quinoa Salad Warm or Cold?
I have served this quinoa salad both warm and cold, and they were both delicious!
My only tip for serving it warm is that you add the feta cheese on top right before serving (after re-heating) so that it maintains its texture and doesn’t melt into the salad.
This Fall Quinoa Salad recipe is vegetarian and gluten-free, but if you need to make substitutions for any reason, here are my suggestions:
- For quinoa: You could totally try making this salad with a grain like bulgur, farro, or couscous. Let me know if you do give this a try!
- For kale: Feel free to use another leafy green like spinach or arugula, but the kale does contribute to the hearty autumn feel of the salad.
- For butternut squash: Roasted sweet potato would work perfectly in place of the roasted butternut squash.
- For pumpkin seeds: You could substitute the pumpkin seeds with sunflower seeds, or nuts like chopped almonds, walnuts, or pecans.
- For dried cranberries: You could use another dried fruit like raisins, dried figs, or prunes. Alternatively, you could use a chopped fruit like apple or pear.
Storing Fall Quinoa Salad:
The quinoa salad stores well in the refrigerator in an airtight container up to 7 days. I like to store my quinoa salad in the fridge in these glass bowls with lids!
Connect with Hannah Magee, RD!
I hope you love this recipe as much as I do. If you try it, let me know what you think by leaving a rating and a review in the comments below. Oh, and be sure to take a photo and tag me at @hannahmagee_rd so I can re-share on my stories!
Nourishing Fall Quinoa Salad with Kale and Butternut Squash
For the Quinoa:
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa
- 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth, can sub. for water
For the Roasted Butternut Squash
- 1 small butternut squash, peeled and chopped
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper, to taste
For the Salad:
- 1 cups kale, finely chopped
- 1/2 medium red onion, diced
- 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
For the Maple Balsamic Dressing:
- 1 batch maple balsamic dressing
- Preheat oven to 425F. In a medium saucepan, bring vegetable broth to a boil. Add quinoa, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- In the meantime, on a baking sheet toss butternut squash with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast in the oven for 30 minutes, flipping halfway.
- Once both the quinoa and butternut squash are cooked, start to assemble the salad with kale, cooked quinoa, and roasted butternut squash.
- Add the pumpkin seeds, red onion, dried cranberries and feta.
- Whisk all dressing ingredients together in a jar and drizzle over salad, tossing to combine. Serve and enjoy!