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.
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 Substitutions
- 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.
- However, I find that the Y-shaped vegetable peeler and sharp knife make the peeling and slicing fairly easy.
- 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).
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 tablespoon 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.
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.
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.
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!
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:
- Salmon: You can't go wrong with omega-3-rich salmon, especially when treated to a 5-Ingredient Curried Maple Mustard Glaze.
- Tofu: Either my 5 Ingredient Crispy Asian Glazed Tofu or 30 Minute Black Pepper Tofu totally fit the bill here.
- Chicken: Macadamia Crusted Chicken with Pineapple Salsa is the perfect flavor pairing for this salad.
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.
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!
Thai Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad (Vegan)
- Small saucepan
- Baking sheet
- Mixing bowls
- 4 heaping cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
- 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ 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 ½ cups shredded red/purple cabbage
- 1 cup matchstick carrots
- 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced (optional)
- ⅓ 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)
- ½ tsp. freshly grated ginger
- ¼ tsp. kosher salt
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Preheat oven to 400ºF. Toss squash in 2 Tbsp. oil ¼ 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 ¼ tsp. salt. Add dressing and gently toss to combine. Stir in peanuts and fresh basil, and garnish with avocado (if using).
This turned out delicious!! I have so many of your recipes saved and look forward to making more.
Hi Rose - I'm so glad it was a hit! Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a review!
Wow! This is so delicious. All the flavors I crave in one big bowl. The sauce in particular is just out of this world.
Hi Taryn - I'm so glad it was a hit! Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a review!
Delicious!! Great work day lunch.
Hi Danielle - I'm so glad you enjoyed this one! Thank you for taking the time to leave a review!
Would the dressing still work without the chilli sauce? Currently breastfeeding and avoiding anything even remotely spicy. Any substitute you’d recommend?
Hi Kym! The chili sauce used in this recipe is sweet chili sauce, so it's more sweet than spicy. I'd rank the heat as VERY, very mild. (I'm also a breastfeeding mama right now!)
Delicious!! Great recipe for weekday lunches as you suggested! Filling and flavorful..
I'm so glad you enjoyed this one, Meghan! Thank you for leaving a review!
Another delicious recipe! Definitely will be on repeat this fall.
So glad you enjoyed this one, Leslie! Thank you for leaving a review!
This salad is fantastic!!! Hearty and beautiful! Definitely a keeper. Thank you!
Hi Tamara - Thank you so much for the fabulous review! I'm so glad you enjoy this recipe!
This was super yum! Definitely adding it as a regular!
Hi Gabrielle - Thank you so much for the review! I'm so glad you enjoy this recipe!
I made this with my three year old; there was enough for her to do (sauce stirring pro!) and the steps were easy. I can’t wait to eat the leftovers tomorrow!
Hi Kelsey! I'm so thrilled you enjoyed the recipe and were able to prep it with your daughter! Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a review.
What a fabulous fall quinoa salad! It holds up deliciously for leftovers, which I love. Will certainly be making this again soon!
Thank you SO much for taking the time to leave a review!! So glad the recipe was a hit!
Just prepped this for lunch this week. Obviously I had to sample - I can’t wait. Yummmmm!
Yesss such a great option for meal prep!! I hope you enjoy it! Thank you for taking time to leave a review.
I initially tried this without the squash and really liked it. The idea of adding the squash didn't initially appeal to me. I ended up doing it with the squash and wow, it really made the dish. I absolutely love this recipe!
I'm glad you ended up enjoying the squash addition! 🙂
Delicious!! It's an instant favourite, and will power training-packed schedules for me and the mister and make our plates brighter in these grey London days. PACKED with good stuff, flavour and beautiful colours, and I'm sure it works well with substitutes if you're missing one or two ingredients. I left out the cashews for me, but didn't miss them. About to make it a second time in one week... Thank you for this tasty gem!
This looks amazing. Can't wait to try this.
Thank you, Ariella!! Hope you love it!
Jessica @ Nutritioulicious
This looks awesome Jamie!
Thank you, Jessica!! I've been loving it for lunch this week!