Versatile Autumn Quinoa Salad

Quinoa salad

If you are looking for a healthy lunch or dinner, this recipe delivers a flavorful and heart-healthy dish. Bonus: It is easy to customize for many different tastes and dietary needs. Get creative and savor the tastes of fall!

Serves 6

Time from prep to table: about 60 minutes. Note: if you use chopped butternut squash, found in the prepared vegetables section of most grocery stores, it will save approximately 10 minutes.

1 small butternut squash, peeled and cubed  
5 tbsp. olive oil or avocado oil, divided
1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups water or low-sodium vegetable broth
2 cups chopped kale or any leafy green of your choice
1 apple or pear, cored and chopped
½ cup dried cranberries or raisins (optional)
½ cup chopped walnuts, pecans, or almonds (optional)
¼ cup pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds (optional)
2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
1 tbsp. honey or pure maple syrup
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Arrange the cubed butternut squash on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive or avocado oil, and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 30-35 minutes or until it is tender and golden.
2. While the squash is roasting, prepare the quinoa. Rinse the quinoa under cold water until the water runs clear. In a medium saucepan, combine the quinoa and water or broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover and let simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the quinoa is soft and the liquid is absorbed. Set aside to cool.
3. In a large bowl, mix the roasted butternut squash, cooled quinoa, chopped kale, chopped apple or pear, dried cranberries or raisins, chopped nuts, and seeds.
4. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining oil, vinegar, honey or maple syrup, mustard, salt, and pepper.
5. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss well to combine. Or, put each of the ingredients and the dressing in separate serving bowls and everyone can customize their own meal!
This recipe makes delicious leftovers for lunch or dinner the next day!
Make It Your Own!
Feel free to substitute or add other veggies, fruits, nuts, or seeds to match your preferences and dietary needs. For example, including nutrient-dense beets, Brussels sprouts, or pomegranate seeds bumps up the fall flavor. For a protein boost, toss in grilled chicken, salmon, black beans, chickpeas, or low-fat feta cheese. If you prefer a vegan dressing, replace the honey with agave syrup or use an additional splash of apple cider vinegar.