This Butternut Kale Quinoa Salad is delicious, healthy and wholesome. Roasted spiced butternut squash and warm cooked quinoa is tossed with kale, slightly wilting it, before tossing with toasted pepitas, dried cranberries, golden raisins and cider dijon dressing. Serves 6 to 8.
This salad is Fall in a bowl.
Ever since Mother Nature flipped the switch from summer to fall, I’m making soups and roasting allthethings. This warm kale salad was one of many on my list to make once the temperatures dropped a little. And I was quickly reminded why I love this salad so much.
The roasted butternut bring sweet and some spice (and I don’t mean spicy heat!) from smoked paprika to cumin to nutmeg. You can count on the kale and quinoa to bulk up the salad while adding vitamins and nutrients, protein and fiber. And let’s not forget the pan toasted pepitas! Besides toasty flavor, they give this salad much needed crunch while the golden raisins and dried cranberries add great texture and sweetness.
So bring on the sweaters and scarves, hot apple cider and all things squash and roasted (and braised)!
To Make This Butternut Squash Kale Quinoa Salad You Will Need:
for the dressing:
- kosher salt – Enhances the flavors of this dressing.
- freshly ground black pepper – This will add some subtle bite and flavor.
- garlic – Adds delicious punchy flavor. A small shallot (minced) can also be added or substituted.
- apple cider vinegar – Adds tartness, tang and a slight sweetness.
- maple syrup – For sweetness. Honey may also be substituted.
- dijon mustard – Helps with emulsion and also gives the dressing a nice tanginess.
- extra virgin olive oil – Lends richness and flavor.
for the salad:
- butternut squash – A Y-peeler really helps make peeling a butternut squash easier.
- avocado oil – Or use any neutral oil made for high temperature cooking/roasting. (like grapeseed or sunflower oil)
- dark brown sugar – Caramelizes once roasted and brings out the natural sweetness of the roasted butternut squash.
- smoked paprika – For a touch of smokiness.
- coriander (ground) – Lends a citrusy flavor with a slight sweetness and subtle hint of earthiness.
- cumin (ground) – Lends earthiness and warmth, with an edge of citrus.
- kosher salt – This will draw out flavor and season the dish.
- freshly ground black pepper – For added bite and flavor.
- nutmeg – Warm, aromatic with subtle hints of clove.
- cayenne – For a very subtle touch of heat.
In a glass jar or container with a tight-fitting lid, measure and add; 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, 1 clove garlic grated (or add/substitute a small minced shallot), 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, 2 teaspoons dijon mustard and 2 teaspoons maple syrup or honey and 6 tablespoons olive oil.
Shake well to combine, making sure the maple syrup or honey is thoroughly incorporated.
Toast The Pepitas:
Add 1/3 cup pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds) into a skillet and heat over medium to medium-low. Shake or stir the pan until the pepitas are golden brown in spots and smell nutty. You might hear them popping a bit, that’s normal.
Make the Quinoa:
Place 1 cup quinoa in a mesh sieve and rinse well under cool water.
Follow the package directions for preparing. I add 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt and 2 cups water. Heat on high heat and bring to a rapid boil. Once boiling, cover and turn off the heat, leaving the covered pot still on the burner. Set a timer for 20 minutes.
Once cooked fluff with a fork or spatula.
Roast the butternut squash:
Preheat your oven to 400°.
Place 4 cups diced butternut squash onto a rimmed metal baking sheet. Drizzle with 1-1/2 tablespoons avocado oil, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, 3/4 teaspoon ground coriander, 3/4 ground cumin, 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg and cayenne pepper.
Toss well to combine, spread evenly and roast on the middle rack of your preheated oven for 20 minutes. Rotate the pan halfway through roasting.
Once roasted, the butternut squash should be tender and the edges caramelized.
Build The Salad:
Strip the leaves from the stems of 1 bunch lacinato kale, rinse and spin or pat dry, then coarsely chop. You’ll need about 2 cups.
Transfer the chopped kale to a bowl. Once the quinoa is cooked and the squash is roasted, add them to the bowl with the kale.
Lightly toss to combine.
Measure and add 1/3 cup roasted (unsalted) pumpkin seeds. Lastly add 1/4 of cup each of golden raisins and dried cranberries.
Drizzle with desired amount of dressing.
Season with a generous pinch (or two) of kosher salt and a few turns of freshly ground black pepper before tossing to combine.
Serve warm or at room temperature and prepare to fall in love!
What’s your favorite salad?
Warm Butternut Squash Kale Quinoa Salad
FOR THE DRESSING:
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 clove garlic, grated (see notes)
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons maple syrup, or honey
- 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
FOR THE SALAD:
- 1 cup quinoa, uncooked
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 cups butternut squash, cut into ½-inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
- 3/4 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
- 1 bunch lacinato kale, stripped off stems, chopped, rinsed and patted or spun dry
- 1/3 cup pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds), toasted
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup golden raisins
MAKE THE DRESSING:
- In a glass jar combine the salt, pepper, garlic, vinegar, mustard, honey and olive oil. Secure the lid and shake well.
MAKE THE SALAD:
- Add the pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds) into a skillet and heat over medium to medium-low. Shake or stir the pan until the pepitas are golden brown in spots and smell nutty. You might hear them popping a bit, that’s normal.
- Place 1 cup quinoa in a mesh sieve and rinse well under cool water. Follow package directions to prepare. This is how I make mine: Transfer rinsed quinoa to a saucepan and add 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt and 2 cups water. Heat on high heat and bring to a rapid boil. Once boiling, cover and turn off the heat, leaving the covered pot still on the burner. Set a timer for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile preheat your oven to 400°.
- Toss the cubed butternut squash in the oil, sugar, smoked paprika, salt, coriander, cumin, black pepper, nutmeg and cayenne. Spread out evenly onto a rimmed sheet pan and bake for 20 minutes. No need to turn or toss the squash, just rotate the pan halfway through.
- In a large salad bowl add the chopped kale, cooked (warm) quinoa, warm roasted butternut squash, toasted pepitas, dried cranberries and raisins.
- Drizzle with desired amount dressing or more to taste. Serve warm.
- Season with a pinch or two of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
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