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quinoa butternut squash salad on plate
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4.86 from 14 votes

Quinoa and Glazed Butternut Squash Salad

Simple, hearty and healthy, Quinoa and Glazed Butternut Squash salad with spinach, cranberries and toasted sesame seeds is a delicious vegetarian main dish or side.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Main Vegetarian dish, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings (change as needed): 6 sides (or 4 mains)
Author: Cheryl


Butternut squash

  • 3/4 pound butternut squash, peeled, cut in 1 inch chunks (about 400g)
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried)


  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 2/3 cup water with 1/2 tsp salt added


  • 2 tablespoon olive oil (or more if needed)
  • 1 tablespoon good balsamic vinegar (or more to taste)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Other salad ingredients

  • 3 cups fresh baby spinach (about 3 large handfuls)
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries (can substitute raisins or dried currants)
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds Note 1
  • Optional garnishes: chopped roasted nuts, crumbled goat cheese, chopped green onions or chives, halved cherry tomatoes, drizzle of honey or maple syrup, squeeze of lemon, balsamic reduction drizzle


  • Preheat oven to 425F. Line a pan with parchment. Or use foil and spray it with oil.
  • ROAST BUTTERNUT SQUASH: Toss butternut squash with oil, maple syrup, salt and pepper in a bowl. Place squash in single layer on pan. (Set bowl aside to mix assembled salad later). Roast squash for 20-30 minutes until tender and slightly caramelized, tossing or flipping over half way through. Lately, I've been cranking the heat to 450F for the last 5-10 minutes to brown the squash more. Remove from oven and sprinkle with thyme.
  • MAKE QUINOA: (while squash is roasting). Rinse quinoa in a mesh strainer. Place in medium pot with 1 2/3 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to simmer. Cook for 15 minutes. Turn off heat and let it sit for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. and let the quinoa cool a bit. Add spinach to the warm quinoa and mix. Spinach will wilt. If you prefer to leave the spinach more crisp, let quinoa cool a bit first.
  • MAKE DRESSING: Put all dressing ingredients in a cup. Whisk to blend.
  • ASSEMBLE AND SERVE: In large bowl, combine quinoa-spinach mixture, cranberries, butternut squash and dressing. Gently mix together. Taste and adjust seasonings. Scoop into serving bowl. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and other optional garnishes as desired.  Serve warm or at room temperature.


To Toast Sesame Seeds: Place seeds in a dry pan over medium heat. Shake pan every minute or two for 4-5 minutes until lightly browned. Let cool. 
Make Ahead: This salad can be made ahead, earlier in the day.  Just let it sit on the counter while the flavors blend and serve it when you're ready.
Nutrition value estimates do not include optional garnishes. 
Calories: 216kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 408mg | Potassium: 456mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 7489IU | Vitamin C: 18mg | Calcium: 77mg | Iron: 2mg