This festive lentil fall salad combines quinoa, kale, butternut squash and then is tossed in a delicious rosemary-infused maple-balsamic dressing! Our favorite autumn salad that is great for seasonal eating and also holidays. (Gluten-free, oil-free.)
This festive Fall Quinoa Salad is so nutrient-rich and satisfying.
It combines cozy, seasonal ingredients like roasted butternut squash, kale, and cranberries.
Then it's tossed with a delicious and flavorful maple-balsamic dressing with fresh rosemary!
It is a great holiday side dish, or simply for everyday autumn enjoyment. Plus it is rich in plant-based protein and fiber.
Ingredients for Fall Quinoa Salad
For the salad portion you will toss together in a large bowl:
- Butternut squash: You will need about a 3-pound squash, or 4-5 cups of pre-cubed squash. Then we're going to roast it in the oven until tender.
- Quinoa: I enjoy white quinoa best for this recipe. (For time efficiency, we will let the quinoa cook while we bake the squash.)
- Brown lentils: I use canned lentils for convenience in this recipe, but feel free to cook your own from scratch if desired. You will need about 1 1/2 cups cooked lentils.
- Kale: Either curly kale or lacinato/dinosaur kale work well.
- Green onions (scallion)
- Walnuts: I use raw, unsalted nuts because that's usually what I have on hand. This adds nice texture and crunch. You could also substitute pecans or pumpkin seeds if desired.
- Dried cranberries: Cranberries are naturally very tart, and I've noticed dried cranberries are usually sweetened with added sugar. So be sure to look for unsweetened/all natural, or naturally sweetened if desired. (You may find some dried cranberries are sweetened with apple juice rather than sugar.)
Ingredients for Dressing
For the flavorful maple-balsamic dressing you will whisk together:
- Balsamic vinegar: If you don't care for balsamic, you could replace it with apple cider vinegar. (Though I have not tested this.)
- Pure maple syrup: This is a great natural sweetener with delicious maple flavor.
- Dijon mustard
- Garlic cloves
- Fresh rosemary: This adds amazing taste and cozy aromatics to the dressing.
- Salt: I use fine-grain salt for this recipe.
You can also add black pepper if you'd like. I prepare my dressings without oil, but you can add a tablespoon of good quality olive oil if you wish.
Whole grains: Feel free to give this a try with your own favorite whole grains. (Or simply omit the lentils and use all quinoa instead.)
Other additions: Feel free to substitute the kale with spinach if desired. Or add roasted Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, pomegranate seeds, vegan feta cheese, etc.
Serve this dish immediately or refrigerate for later. Simply store leftovers in an airtight container and place in the fridge. We find it keeps for about 3 days.
It is great served warm right away, at room temperature, or chilled.
Lentil Quinoa Fall Salad with Maple Dressing
- 4-5 cups butternut squash, cubed (about a 3 lb. squash)
- 1/2 cup quinoa (or 1 1/2 cups cooked)
- 15 oz. can lentils
- 1/2 bunch kale
- 3-4 green onions
- 1/3 cup walnuts, roughly chopped (I use raw, unsalted)
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries
For the maple-balsamic dressing:
- 3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- 2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
- 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp. fresh rosemary, finely chopped (more/less to taste)
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- Roast the squash: Preheat oven to 400°F (204°C). Line a baking pan with parchment paper and arrange squash cubes in a single layer. (Salt/pepper if desired.) Place in oven and bake for 35-40 minutes or to desired tenderness, stirring halfway through.
- Cook the quinoa: Add 1/2 cup quinoa (rinsed and drained) in a small saucepan with 3/4 cup water or vegetable broth. Bring to a light boil over med-high heat. Then reduce heat to med-low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Make the dressing: In a small bowl, combine all dressing ingredients and whisk to combine. Set aside.
- Prepare salad: Thinly chop kale, large stems removed. Place in a large mixing bowl and gently massage to tenderize.
- Slice green onions and roughly chop walnuts. Add to bowl with kale.
- Add lentils (rinsed and drained), cranberries, cooked quinoa, and roasted squash to bowl.
- Pour dressing over top and gently toss to thoroughly combine. Add more cranberries or walnuts if desired.
- Serve immediately or refrigerate for later. (Great served warm, room temperature, or chilled.)
Nutrition Per Serving (Estimate)
If you are enjoying this lentil quinoa fall salad with butternut squash and maple dressing, also check out: