My Butternut Squash and Quinoa Salad is the perfect salad for any festive occasion, or meal prep ahead of time for delicious lunches throughout the week.
Perfectly roasted butternut squash paired with fluffy quinoa, arugula, pomegranate, walnuts and goat cheese, then drizzled with a delicious maple dressing, this salad is filled with amazing flavours that will have you going back for more.
Whether you're hosting a dinner party, Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas lunch or barbecue, this show-stopping salad will become your holiday season go-to! I've used my Maple Dijon Vinaigrette to dress this impressive fall quinoa salad. Serve alongside my Kale, Apple and Cranberry Salad and Green Beans with Cranberries, along with a roasted chicken or turkey for the perfect holiday spread.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
There are so many reasons to love this roasted butternut squash quinoa salad. Not only does it offer a healthy reprieve from those delicious holiday treats but:
- it is the perfect side dish for any occasion.
- this salad is made using seasonal vegetables with delicious fall flavours.
- it is gluten free and refined sugar free.
- this salad is easy to make and tastes amazing!
Ingredients Notes and Substitutions
To make this quinoa salad recipe you will need a handful of simple ingredients, all that can be found at most grocery stores.
- butternut squash - swap for other roasted vegetables like your favourite variety of squash, roasting pumpkin or sweet potato.
- quinoa - I have used white quinoa but you can also use tri coloured quinoa.
- arugula (rocket) - can be swapped for kale, baby kale or baby spinach.
- goat cheese - swap for feta cheese or left out to make this recipe dairy free.
- walnuts - swap for pumpkin seeds to make nut free. Pecans or toasted almonds also work well in this recipe.
- pomegranate arils (pomegranate seeds) - can be swapped for dried cranberries.
This salad is dressing with my Maple Dijon Vinaigrette. For ingredients notes and substitutions I would recommend reading the post. To make this dressing you will need:
- extra virgin olive oil
- pure maple syrup
- white wine vinegar
- lemon juice
- dijon mustard
- sea salt
Find the ingredient quantities in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
How to Make Butternut Squash Salad
Follow these easy steps to see just how easy it is to make this delicious salad.
Step 1 - Roast the butternut squash.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (356 Fahrenheit). Remove the ends from the squash, slice in half lengthways and remove the seeds with a spoon. Using a sharp knife, carefully remove the skin and then dice the butternut.
Place the butternut squash into a baking dish, sheet pan or air fryer basket if using an air fryer. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and season with salt. Toss to evenly coat the squash and then spread out into a single layer. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes or until you have golden brown, tender squash that can be pierced easily with a fork. If using an air fryer, cook for 15 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius (356 Fahrenheit).
Remove the roasted butternut squash from the oven or air fryer and set aside. The cooking time may vary depending on each individual oven and the size pieces that the butternut squash is cut into.
Step 2 - Cook the quinoa.
While the squash is roasting, cook the quinoa until fluffy. Make sure to rinse the quinoa under cold water first until the water runs clear before cooking in a medium pot with water. Once the quinoa is cooked and tender, fluff with a fork. Set aside and allow to cool to room temperature.
Step 3 - Make the salad dressing.
Add all of the salad dressing ingredients to a small bowl and whisk to combine.
Step 4 - Assemble the salad.
Cool the squash and butternut squash to room temperature, otherwise the arugula will wilt. Add the roasted squash, quinoa, arugula, pomegranate arils and walnuts to a large bowl. Drizzle with the dressing and then toss to combine. To serve top with roughly chopped walnuts and crumbled goat cheese.
Tips: If you're not serving straight away then I recommend to not dress the salad with the vinaigrette until right before serving.
Prep Ahead Tips
Components of this dish can be prepared up to 2 days prior to serving and kept in stored as I've outlined below.
- Roast the butternut squash - store in an airtight container in the fridge.
- Cook the quinoa - store in an airtight container in the fridge.
- Remove the pomegranate arils from the skin - store in an airtight container in the fridge.
- Roughly chop the walnuts - store in a glass jar or airtight container at room temperature.
- Prepare the vinaigrette and store in the fridge in a sealed glass jar or bottle.
- as a main dish - just add your favourite protein such as grilled chicken breast, crispy fried tofu or grilled salmon.
- on a wrap - use up those leftovers and add this salad along with leftover roast turkey or chicken to a wrap with some mayonnaise and enjoy!
- as a side dish - serve alongside other sides like my Kale, Apple and Cranberry Salad, Green Beans with Almonds and my Crispy Smashed Potatoes for the perfect spread of sides!
When all of the ingredients are made fresh, this salad in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days (with dressing on) or 3 days (without undressed). I love this salad bowl with a lid and salad servers, for storing the salad if making ahead of time, especially if you're bringing it to a gathering!
Rocket doesn't have a very long shelf life so we recommend to make on the day or the day before serving for the freshest salad possible. Cooked quinoa will keep for up to 4 days in the fridge in an airtight container. I love these glass airtight containers!
See my handy guides below for roasting butternut squash:
- 1 Medium Mixing Bowl
- 1 Whisk
- Baking dish or air fryer
- Measuring Cups and Spoons
- Large salad bowl
- 500 grams butternut squash skin and seeds removed, diced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil extra virgin
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup quinoa white or tri-colour
- 1 ¾ cups water
- 300 grams arugula rocket
- 70 grams goat cheese soft
- ½ cup walnuts roughly chopped
- 1 pomegranate arils removed
Maple Dijon Dressing
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice fresh
- 60 mL olive oil extra virgin
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (356 degrees Farhenheit).
- Add the diced squash, olive oil and sea salt to a baking dish or air fryer basket. Toss to coat evenly and then spread out into one layer.500 grams butternut squash, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon sea salt
- Place the tray into the oven and bake for 45 minutes or until squash is tender and golden brown. Alternatively, place squash into the air fryer at 180 degrees Celsius and roast for 15 minutes. Once roasted, remove from the oven or air fryer and set aside to cool.
- Meanwhile, cook the quinoa. First rinse the quinoa under cold water until the water runs clear. This is to remove the saponins. Add the rinsed quinoa to a medium saucepan along with the water. Place the lid on and bring to a boil. Continue to boil until the liquid begins to reduce. Turn the heat to low and simmer until all of the liquid has been absorbed (around 8 minutes). Turn the heat off and leave the lid on the pan, allowing the quinoa to steam for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove the lid and fluff the quinoa with a fork.1 cup quinoa, 1 ¾ cups water
- Set aside to cool.
- While the quinoa is cooking, make the dressing by adding the white wine vinegar, lemon juice, dijon mustard and maple syrup into a small bowl. Whisk to combine.2 tablespoons white wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 tablespoon dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
- Begin pouring the olive oil into the bowl in a steady stream while whisking. Whisk until the dressing is well combined and emulsified.60 mL olive oil
- To a large salad bowl add the cooked quinoa, roasted butternut squash, pomegranate arils and arugula. Drizzle with desired amount of dressing and toss to combine.1 pomegranate, 300 grams arugula
- Serve either in a salad bowl or on a platter, topped with walnuts and crumbled goats cheese.70 grams goat cheese, ½ cup walnuts