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. Leslie says:

    5 stars
    Another delicious recipe! Definitely will be on repeat this fall.

    1. Jamie Vespa says:

      So glad you enjoyed this one, Leslie! Thank you for leaving a review!

  2. Tamara says:

    5 stars
    This salad is fantastic!!! Hearty and beautiful! Definitely a keeper. Thank you!

    1. Jamie Vespa says:

      Hi Tamara – Thank you so much for the fabulous review! I’m so glad you enjoy this recipe!

  3. Gabrielle says:

    This was super yum! Definitely adding it as a regular!

    1. Jamie Vespa says:

      Hi Gabrielle – Thank you so much for the review! I’m so glad you enjoy this recipe!

  4. Kelsey says:

    5 stars
    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!

    1. Jamie Vespa says:

      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.

  5. Maureen says:

    5 stars
    What a fabulous fall quinoa salad! It holds up deliciously for leftovers, which I love. Will certainly be making this again soon!

    1. Jamie Vespa says:

      Thank you SO much for taking the time to leave a review!! So glad the recipe was a hit!

  6. Elle. Teee says:

    5 stars
    Just prepped this for lunch this week. Obviously I had to sample – I can’t wait. Yummmmm!

    1. Jamie Vespa says:

      Yesss such a great option for meal prep!! I hope you enjoy it! Thank you for taking time to leave a review.

  7. Kyle says:

    5 stars
    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!

    1. Jamie Vespa says:

      I’m glad you ended up enjoying the squash addition! 🙂

  8. Stefanie says:

    5 stars
    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!

  9. Ariella says:

    This looks amazing. Can’t wait to try this.

    1. dishingouthealth says:

      Thank you, Ariella!! Hope you love it!

  10. Jessica @ Nutritioulicious says:

    This looks awesome Jamie!

    1. dishingouthealth says:

      Thank you, Jessica!! I’ve been loving it for lunch this week!