This warm Autumn Quinoa Salad is the epitome of fall flavor: roasted butternut squash, brussels sprouts and shallots are combined with quinoa, cranberries, pecans, and a honey mustard vinaigrette to create a sweet and savory flavor sensation. Autumn Quinoa Salad is a hearty dish, filling enough for meatless main course, or the perfect accompaniment to grilled chicken or your favorite protein. Packed with nutrients and real ingredients, this salad is healthy but flavorful.
All about this Autumn Quinoa Salad
This salad is a flavor sensation; it’s got the warm notes of Fall, from the seasoned butternut squash, notes of cinnamon and cumin, the sweet and tart dried cranberries, and the crunch of the pecans. Each layer of this dish is packed with flavor; the roasted vegetables are coated in a spice blend, the quinoa is cooked in flavorful broth, and the vinaigrette is sweet and tangy. This dish is a great option for a meatless main course; since it is packed with vegetables and extremely nutrient-dense, it is satisfying and filling on its own. You can also cut the servings in half, and serve this flavorful salad alongside a protein, like grilled chicken or fish.
This salad can be served either warm or cold, depending on how you plan on serving it. This makes it a great option for a lunch meal prep, since you don’t have to reheat it to enjoy it.
What is quinoa? How do you cook it?
I will be the first to admit, I have only cooked quinoa a handful of times. But, I really enjoy eating it whenever it is offered places. When I created this recipe, I decided I wanted something light in flavor and super clean for a lunch option, and quinoa was the first thing I thought of.
Quinoa is actually not a grain, although it really acts like one! It’s actually a seed. But, when it comes to cooking, the method is similar to that of a starchy grain: 1:2 ratio of quinoa to liquid, bring to a boil and then simmer, covered.
Similar to grains such as rice, barley, and farro, quinoa is perfect as a blank slate, or a vessel for other flavors. It takes on any flavor you pair it with, and because of this characteristic, it makes for a great cold salad. Add some oil and some acidity, and quinoa takes on a whole new flavor personality.
I like cooking quinoa in broth, because it gives you a chance to flavor the quinoa before adding other flavors.
How to measure out the quinoa
Just like measuring pasta or rice, this part can be tricky when it comes to labels, measuring, and tracking. You will see on the label, in most cases, the stats are based off of the uncooked volume of the item. For instance, the package of quinoa I purchased said one serving was 1/4 cup (dry, uncooked). So for this recipe, I used 1 cup of uncooked quinoa.
I just want to reiterate here that the stats on the box or container is not for the cooked volume!
What you’ll need to make Autumn Quinoa Salad
- butternut squash
- I used a whole, large, butternut squash, which I peeled and cubed. This yielded 6 cups of butternut squash.
- brussels sprouts
- reduced sodium chicken broth
- dried cranberries
- kosher salt
- dried thyme
- olive oil
- honey mustard
- apple cider vinegar
- fresh parsley
As with any recipe, you can sub in any ingredients of your choice; fresh broccoli florets would be a great swap for brussels sprouts, if you are not a fan of brussel sprouts. You can also use walnuts instead of pecans, or use raisins instead of dried cranberries. Use what you love, and use what you have on hand.
How to make Autumn Quinoa Salad
To make this salad, there are a few key steps: cooking the quinoa, roasting the vegetables, and making the vinaigrette.
The vegetables roast at a high temperature (450F) for optimum flavor and texture. Toss the prepped vegetables with the seasoning blend, and make sure you use lots of olive oil spray to prevent sticking and burning. The vegetables roast for about 25-30 minutes, but make sure you flip them every so often to prevent burning. If you feel the butternut squash is taking longer than the other vegetables, you can remove the other vegetables when they look done, and finish the squash in the oven for a bit longer.
Combine the cooked vegetables with the cooked quinoa, and the vinaigrette. Add in the cranberries, pecans, and fresh parsley.
Autumn Quinoa Salad
- small saucepan
- sheet pan
- mixing bowl
- 3 cups brussels sprouts halved
- 6 cups butternut squash peeled, cubed
- 2 shallots
- olive oil spray
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp thyme dried
- 1 cup quinoa uncooked
- 2 cups reduced sodium chicken broth vegetable broth for a vegetarian option
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup pecans chopped
- 1/4 cup parsley fresh
Honey Mustard Vinaigrette
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp honey mustard
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- fresh cracked pepper
- Preheat the oven to 450F.
- Peel and cube the butternut squash (scoop the seeds out).
- Half the brussels sprouts. Peel and slice the shallots.
- Spray a sheet pan with olive oil spray and add the vegetables.
- Spray the vegetables with olive oil spray.
- Combine the kosher salt, paprika, cinnamon, cumin, and thyme in a small bowl. Sprinkle the seasoning blend on the vegetables and toss to coat.
- Arrange the brussels sprouts cut side down on the sheet pan.
- Roast the vegetables for 25-30 minutes or until the squash is fork-tender.
- Flip the vegetables every 8-10 minutes to prevent burning and sticking.
- While the vegetables roast, add the uncooked quinoa and the broth to a small sauce pan and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Reduce to simmer and cook for about 15 minutes or until the quinoa is tender and the broth is absorbed; if necessary, add more broth.
- In a small bowl, combine the vinaigrette ingredients.
- Toss the cooked quinoa, roasted vegetables, cranberries, pecans, parsley, and vinaigrette in a mixing bowl.
- 6 WW points (green plan and blue plan)
- 4 WW points (purple plan)
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