Maple-Roasted Butternut Squash Quinoa Harvest Salad

It’s that time of year for squash.

I’m a big squash fan and even bigger fan when it’s roasted with maple syrup and butter.

Maple-Roasted Butternut Squash Quinoa Harvest Salad - Easy and packed with big fall flavors!! Maple syrup, squash, and cranberries were made for each other! Love it when healthy tastes so good!!

The savory yet slightly sweet salad is easy, healthy, packed with big fall-inspired flavors, and there’s so much texture.

The buttery maple syrup coats the tender squash which is a nice contrast to the chewier quinoa. I used tri-colored quinoa and while I don’t think it tastes much different than white quinoa, I like the added color but use your favorite.

Maple-Roasted Butternut Squash Quinoa Harvest Salad - Easy and packed with big fall flavors!! Maple syrup, squash, and cranberries were made for each other! Love it when healthy tastes so good!!

There’s lightly caramelized sweet yellow onion to boost the overall flavor, chewy tart-and-sweet dried cranberries, sliced almonds for a satisfying crunch, and parsley to add color and a mild herbiness.

The salad is great right away but it’s a perfect make-ahead recipe because the flavors develop over time and I think it tastes better a day or two after making it. It’s perfect for work or school lunches.

Maple-Roasted Butternut Squash Quinoa Harvest Salad - Easy and packed with big fall flavors!! Maple syrup, squash, and cranberries were made for each other! Love it when healthy tastes so good!!

Print Recipe

Maple-Roasted Butternut Squash Quinoa Harvest Salad

Butternut squash is roasted with maple syrup and butter. The savory yet slightly sweet salad is easy, healthy, packed with big fall-inspired flavors, and there's so much texture. Buttery maple syrup coats the tender squash which is a nice contrast to the chewier quinoa. There's lightly caramelized sweet yellow onion for flavor, chewy tart-and-sweet dried cranberries, almonds for a satisfying crunch, and parsley to add color and a mild herbiness. The salad is great right away but it’s a perfect make-ahead recipe because the flavors develop over time and tastes better a day or two after making it. It's perfect for work or school lunches.

Yield: serves 4 to 8

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: about 45 to 60 minutes

Total Time: about 60 minutes

Ingredients:

  • about 3 cups butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup (half of 1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • one extra-large (about 2 heaping cups diced) sweet Vidalia or yellow onion, peeled and diced small
  • 1 cup quinoa (I use tri-colored)
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper, or to taste
  • 1 cup dried cranberries (I use orange-scented dried cranberries)
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons lemon juice, optional and to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Line a 9x13-inch pan with aluminum foil for easier cleanup, add the butternut squash and evenly drizzle with maple syrup, butter, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and toss to combine. Bake for about 45 to 60 minutes, or until squash is fork-tender. Stir twice while squash bakes to ensure even cooking. Baking time will range based on exact size of squash pieces and natural variance in squash as some have more moisture and release more juice while baking. While the squash bakes, start sautéing the onions.
  2. To a large skillet or saucepan, add the olive oil, onions, and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until onions have softened and are lightly caramelized, about 7 to 8 minutes.
  3. Add the quinoa and stir it into the onions and let it toast for about 30 seconds.
  4. Add the water, apple cider vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, reduce the heat to low, cover pan, and cook for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until all liquid has been absorbed.
  5. Transfer quinoa to a large bowl and add the dried cranberries, almonds, parsley, squash and all the cooking liquid, and stir to combine. Taste, check for seasoning balance, and if necessary to brighten up the flavor, add lemon juice to taste. I added it and it doesn't make the dish taste lemony but the acid balances the flavor. If necessary add more salt, pepper, or possibly a pinch of cayenne pepper for heat. Dish can be served warm and immediately or stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. The flavors develop over time and tastes better a day or two after making it, and can either be served warm or cold.

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32 comments

  1. We’re butternut squash salad twins today! I love fall just because of all the winter squash – I can’t get enough! I’m loving that you added quinoa here to make it healthy AND hearty. Salad win!

  2. This looks lovely Averie! My first thought when I saw the photo was healthful comfort food (with so many of my favorite ingredients). I love squash season and must make this over the weekend.

    • Paula you’re going to love it! Healthful comfort food, totally spot on! All the flavors in this were just….so good. I loved this salad so much!

    • I’ve been anxious to make this and it did not disappoint!! Incredibly good–tangy, nutty and yes, slightly sweet. Roasting the squash in butter and maple syrup is now my new favorite way to prepare it. So glad to have leftovers for Jon. He loved it too!

    • Glad you have a new favorite way to roast your squash! I loved this salad and made it a few times and just couldn’t get enough of it! Glad you and Jon both enjoyed it, too!

  3. This is an absolutely gorgeous salad! And I don’t think it gets much better than maple syrup and squash.

  4. Such a perfect sounding fall salad! I love the maple in there!

  5. This salad looks insanely good.  If I can control myself to not eat all the squash off the pan as it comes out of the oven I will definitely make it.  I’m weak when it comes to roasted vegs.

    • If I can control myself to not eat all the squash off the pan as it comes out of the oven <--- I had that exact same problem! I had to tell myself to stop so I had enough for the recipe :)

  6. Mmm, looks tasty and healthy. I was just wandering what to have for dinner, so I’m going to make your salad. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  7. This dish is eye-candy to a hard-core squash lover aka ME!  I need to make this beauty!

  8. These flavors….quintessential fall!  I was eating a TON of butternut this summer – I went through a big one in about 3 days, making “fries” and dipping them in maple syrup.  I think I may have overdone it.  ;)

    • I overdid kabocha a few years ago as I’m sure you remember all our squash talks! Hadn’t had any in ages and this hit the spot! I would totally love your fries and with a maple syrup dip! I know you’re not a huge quinoa fan but this was EXCELLENT!

  9. I may be one of the crazy few that prefers red over regular quinoa! I love that it has a slightly crunchier (for lack of a better word) texture… I feel like I’m actually eating something! That and it’s so pretty while it cooks. And makes photos prettier for food bloggers too! ;)

  10. This looks so delicious! I think I’m going to need this in my life really soon!
    Paige
    http://thehappyflammily.com

  11. This is so pretty!! I love butternut squash so I know I’d love this too!

  12. I haven’t worked with quinoa very much, but this recipe is definitely making me want to! Looks and sounds amazing, tons of great flavors. Thanks for sharing Averie :)

  13. Well this salad just look so perfect to me!  And I agree, I love making salads like this ahead of time, the yumminess factor increases a lot!

  14. So packed with squash, I love it! And roasting it with maple syrup and butter is genius – a sweet twist that I will need to try when it is autumn here. Love how you added almonds and parsley too for extra flavour – just a gorgeous salad! <3

  15. I am making this right now. When I roasted the squash, there was tons of liquid on the pan that never cooked off. Was there supposed to be so much liquid? And I felt like the maple syrup flavor wasn’t too strong, as most of it was still on the pan. Other than that I am sure it is all going to be great!

    • In Step 5 I wrote “Transfer quinoa to a large bowl and add the dried cranberries, almonds, parsley, squash and all the cooking liquid, and stir to combine.”

      So yes, I added all the cooking liquid because there was quite a bit on the pan and that helps give more maple flavor, too. Plus it ensures the final dish isn’t dry. It’s amazing in a day or two in the fridge how much quinoa (and almonds and dried cranberries) will just suck out moisture like crazy. Enjoy!

  16. I can’t wait to make this dish! I have used prepared quinoa so often to make a number of dishes that I must ask, just to be sure, the quinoa in this recipe is not cooked in advance but the 1 1/2 cups water serve to cook it as I normally would? Thank you!

  17. Everything I wanted and more. I KNEW I had been hoarding my squash for a reason. Even my anti-squash hubby liked it. (I did tell him it was taro root, since so far he had no idea what that tasted like, nor did he have a predisposition to hate it) This was spot on fantastically delicious! Thanks for another happy recipe in my arsenal. AND just so you know of the sweets on my Christmas platters this year, about 75% recipes from your site-including doing mini chocolate silk pies…oh yeah.

    • Thanks for trying the recipe and I’m glad it came out great for you and that your hubby even liked it! Taro root…lol…didn’t have a predisposition to hate it :) Love the way you think and work!

      And that’s awesome about your sweets platter items coming from my recipes! Thank you!

  18. I made this recipe tonight, and it was perfect for a cold Michigan winter dinner. You got a HUGE thumbs-up from my four-year old son, who told me, “You can tell how much I like dinner, because I’m not talking!” And my husband had seconds. :) A great blend of sweet and savory. 

    • Thanks for trying the recipe and I’m glad it came out great for you! I love that your 4 year old is eating quinoa and squash! So was mine at the time but not that many will…good job, Mom :)

  19. Is Kabocha squash a good substitute for butternut squash? Thanks

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