Thai Butternut Quinoa Salad

5 from 45 votes
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Thai Quinoa Salad with roasted butternut squash and creamy ginger dressing. This easy quinoa salad recipe is vegan, gluten free, and perfect for meal prep lunches.Thai quinoa salad with roasted squash and avocado in a serving bowl

Why You’ll Love this Thai Quinoa Salad

This butternut squash quinoa salad is packed with antioxidant-rich ingredients and bursting with flavor. Much like my Thai Peanut Chicken recipe, it’s the perfect dish to make ahead and enjoy throughout the week.

You’ll love opening your refrigerator and seeing a container of it waiting to be your lunch or dinner.

It features an assortment of colorful, crunchy veggies, peanuts, and a creamy ginger dressing.

You can make the dressing with either tahini, cashew butter, or peanut butter. Whichever you choose, I guarantee it will be double batch-worthy!

This kale and quinoa salad is vegan, gluten free, and very allergen-friendly. Both kids and adults will love its sweet and savory flavors, and cool, crunchy accents. 

For more Thai recipes, check out my Thai Shrimp Noodle Salad or this Thai Vegetable Soup.

Ingredients and SubstitutionsRecipe ingredients in separate bowls on a white board

  • Butternut Squash: Roasted butternut squash adds the perfect amount of sweetness to this savory salad. If you want to save time, you can purchase the butternut squash precut into cubes.
  • Quinoa: Cooked quinoa gives the salad nutty flavor, along with filling protein and fiber. You can use white, multi-color, or red quinoa for this recipe. White quinoa, however, has the most mild flavor of the three varieties.
  • Kale: My favorite leafy green adds heft and a slew of micronutrients. You can use lacinato or classic green curly kale–just make to remove the tough stems.
    • If you want to save them, purchase the bags of stemmed and chopped kale greens.
  • Peanuts: A winning combo of crunch, toasty flavor, heart-healthy fats, and protein. If you have a nut allergy, you can use pepitas (pumpkin sees), pistachios, or sesame seeds instead.
  • Basil: Fresh basil is the ultimate herb for bridging the gap between summer and fall. Alternatively, you can use cilantro or mint here. 

Once you have your ingredients prepped, it’s time to toss them with:

  • Creamy Ginger Dressing: This dressing comes together effortlessly and is super adaptable. You need one creamy element, such as tahini, cashew butter, or peanut butter, plus some umami boosters.
    • I love using fish sauce, however if you’re making it vegan, use soy sauce or coconut aminos. Also in the mix is sweet red chili sauce, fresh ginger, and maple syrup (or honey).

Butternut squash quinoa salad tossed with dressing in a white serving bowl

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1: Roast the Butternut Squash

To start, preheat the oven to 400ºF. Grab an all-purpose baking sheet like this one, and spread out your cubes of squash. Toss in 2 Tbsp olive or avocado oil (my preferred roasting oil), and salt.

Place in the oven and bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until the squash is tender and lightly browned.Cubed butternut squash roasted on a baking sheet

Step 2: Cook the Quinoa

Meanwhile, prepare the quinoa by combining quinoa and broth in a small saucepan. Bring the quinoa to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to a gentle simmer.

Simmer quinoa until all of the liquid is absorbed, and the quinoa easily fluffs with a fork. Transfer quinoa to a bowl and let cool slightly.Quinoa cooked in a small saucepan; ginger dressing being whisked together

Step 3: Prepare the Creamy Ginger Dressing

In a small bowl, combine tahini (or nut butter), lime juice, fish or soy sauce, sweet red chili sauce, ginger, and honey. Stir to combine, and slowly whisk in extra-virgin olive oil. Whisk until mixture is smooth, and set aside.Ginger dressing being poured over Thai quinoa salad

Step 4: Assemble the Thai Quinoa Salad

Place the kale in a large bowl, and add quinoa; toss to combine. (The residual heat of the cooked quinoa will help soften the tough fibers of the kale.)

Next, add the red cabbage, carrots, butternut squash, and Creamy Ginger Dressing, and toss to coat. Lastly, stir in the peanuts and fresh basil, and serve!Butternut squash quinoa salad mixed together in a white bowl

FAQs and Expert Tips:

What to Serve with Thai Quinoa Salad:

This butternut squash quinoa salad is plenty satiating to enjoy on it’s own for lunch or dinner. However, it’s also super versatile as a side dish. Here are a few of my favorite pairings:

Make Ahead and Storage Tips:

  • To Make Ahead. Feel like a meal prep master by prepping this easy quinoa salad recipe at the start of the week. From there, you can pull it right out of the fridge and enjoy on repeat!
  • To Store. This salad will last in the refrigerator up to 3 days (even after being dressed!). This salad DOES not freeze well and should not be frozen.

easy quinoa salad recipe assembled in a serving bowl

More Easy Quinoa Salad Recipes:

Fiesta Mango Quinoa Salad

30 Minute Loaded Taco Quinoa Salad

Harissa-Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

If you give this recipe a try, be sure to snap a pic and tag #dishingouthealth on Instagram so I can see your creations. Also, follow along on Facebook and Pinterest for the latest recipe updates!

5 from 45 votes

Thai Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad (Vegan)

Thai Quinoa Salad with butternut squash, kale, and creamy ginger dressing. This easy quinoa salad recipe is vegan, gluten free, and perfect for meal prep lunches.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 6 servings

Equipment

  • Small saucepan
  • Baking sheet
  • Mixing bowls

Ingredients  

  • 4 heaping cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 packed cups kale, stemmed and roughly chopped (lacinato or green curly kale)
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded red/purple cabbage
  • 1 cup matchstick carrots
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced (optional)
  • 1/3 cup roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh chopped basil leaves
  • 1 avocado, peeled and sliced or cubed (optional)

Creamy Ginger Dressing

  • 2 Tbsp. tahini (or peanut butter)
  • 2 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp. sweet red chili sauce (I use Thai Kitchen brand)
  • 1 Tbsp. honey or maple syrup
  • 2 tsp. fish sauce (or soy sauce)
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly grated ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
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Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 400ºF. Toss squash in 2 Tbsp. oil 1/4 tsp. salt; spread evenly on a rimmed baking sheet. Place in the oven and bake for 25 to 35 minutes, tossing once halfway through, until the squash is tender and lightly browned.
  • Meanwhile, combine quinoa and broth in a small saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and gently simmer until liquid is absorbed and quinoa is fluffy, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.
  • Prepare Creamy Ginger Dressing by combining all ingredients except olive oil in a small bowl; stir to combine. Gently stream in olive oil, whisking constantly, until dressing is smooth.
  • Add kale to bowl with quinoa, and toss to combine (the residual heat of the quinoa will help soften the kale leaves). Add cabbage, carrots, bell pepper (if using), and butternut squash. Season with remaining 1/4 tsp. salt. Add dressing and gently toss to combine. Stir in peanuts and fresh basil, and garnish with avocado (if using).

Notes

This salad can be enjoyed warm, chilled, or at room temperature. Enjoy as a stand alone meal, or paired with tofu, salmon, or chicken. 
Leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 3 to 4 days.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 359kcal | Carbohydrates: 45g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 2.5g | Sodium: 660mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 12g

I calculate these values by hand to ensure accuracy, however expect up to a 10% variable depending on food brands.

If you love this recipe, please leave a star rating and review below!

 

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Recipe Rating




47 Comments

  1. Knar says:

    What can be substituted for basil?

  2. Sarah says:

    5 stars
    Delicious! I don’t often rate recipes but had to rate this one. I’ll be adding it into our regular meal rotation. I added shrimp and it was so yummy!

  3. Lindy says:

    5 stars
    We (and everyone we make this for) LOVE this recipe! I always make extra dressing! One change I make, is that for the 1/4 cup olive oil, I do 1/2 sesame oil/1/2 olive oil.

  4. Sheila R says:

    5 stars
    Excellent!!!! Made it for a potluck dinner and it was a big hit with everyone. Delicious, satisfying and full of wonderful flavours and textures. It ticks all the boxes for a potluck: dairy free, gluten free and vegan if you substitute soy sauce for fish sauce. Portions were extremely generous, we came home with extra for the next day!

  5. Crystal Wyrick says:

    5 stars
    Another Winner! Big hit shared at work. Your dressings are always amazing. Thank you

  6. Liz T says:

    Every recipe I’ve made of Jamie’s is fantastic and this is no exception! My boyfriend and I just simultaneously said this dish could be in a restaurant. I will definitely be making it again!

  7. Paige M. says:

    5 stars
    This recipe is amazing!! We have made it many times!

  8. Allison says:

    5 stars
    We really enjoyed this! We’re plant-based and oil-free so I used soy sauce instead of fish sauce and omitted the oil from the squash and the dressing. I served the butternut squash and quinoa warm but everything else was cold/room temperature. Will definitely make again!

    1. Jamie Vespa says:

      Hi Allison – I’m so glad you enjoyed this one! Thank you for coming back and leaving a review!

    2. Jade says:

      5 stars
      I totally understand why this is one of the most popular recipes on this site now; that dressing is perfection. I may just throw it on everything I cook from now on.