Soft chunks of butternut squash, salty pumpkin seeds, sweet chopped dates, crunchy kale, and aromatic sage form a sensational and light quinoa salad for fall. Quinoa, couscous, tabbouleh, and barley are all versatile grains that really shine with the right ingredients. Fall is well underway and I have been itching to make a fall-fabulous salad with seasonal ingredients. For the summer and spring I love making a bright couscous salad with fresh crisp veggies, but a fall quinoa salad calls for richer flavors and textures.
Fall quinoa salad is crazy easy to make because it can be prepped in advance if you’re planning on treating guests to a feast. I roasted the butternut squash and made the quinoa a day ahead. It is better to work with chilled ingredients so the kale and sage do not wilt from the freshly cooked ingredients. Crunchy pepitas or pumpkin seeds add texture, flavor, and bring saltiness to the dish while butternut squash’s velvety bite gives the salad healthy richness. Dress this salad lightly with salt, pepper, olive oil, and lemon juice or whisk up a yogurt dressing to drizzle on top. Serve fall quinoa salad with roasted chicken, fish, or enjoy with extra greens as a salad!
Fall Quinoa Salad
- 1 cup quinoa prepared as directed
- 2 cups fresh chopped kale
- 2 cups roasted and diced butternut squash
- 1 sprig sage finely chopped
- ½ cup dates pitted and chopped
- ½ cup roasted and salted pumpkin seeds
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
Prepare the quinoa as directed; you can optionally use chicken broth or orange juice instead of just water to cook the quinoa. Spread the cooked quinoa on a baking sheet so it can cool. Roast the butternut squash in advance. Cut it in half, core out the seeds, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Place the halves cut side up on a baking sheet and roast for 35-45 minutes or until fork tender at 350F.
Once the squash is cool enough to handle gently peel off the outer skin and dice the squash in cubes; set aside. Chop the kale, dates, and sage. Combine the ingredients and toss with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. I also thought an apple cider vinaigrette could work well with this dish, but alas I did not have any apple cider vinegar handy.