The first time I ever cooked a delicata squash I followed this recipe from Alexandra Cooks and was immediately obsessed. It’s basically everything I love in a roasted vegetable recipe. Since then, that method has become one of my absolute favorite for cooking any squash. This spicy roasted squash and quinoa salad is basically my attempt at turning a vegetable side dish recipe into a full meal.
Grain salads are my go-to for meal prep lunches and this one is perfect for that. While the squash and potatoes lose some of their crunch when stored, this salad is still delicious several days later. The best way to do it is to assemble each salad in separate containers and store them that way in the fridge. You can eat the roasted squash and quinoa salad cold, room temp, heat it up in the microwave, or (my personal favorite) heat a bit of oil in a skillet and dump in the salad contents. Saute everything up a bit until it’s warmed through. This method produces the best texture, in my opinion, but it is a little extra effort.
Why I Like This Recipe
The combination of butternut squash and sweet potatoes really does it for my carb-loving heart. Plus, both high in fiber, which makes them good for digestion. Sweet potatoes are loaded with Vitamin A, which is great for your immune system, as well as the B vitamins, vitamins C and vitamin D. Butternut squash is also crazy high in vitamin A and a good source of vitamin C. It’s also high in antioxidants, which help slow cellular damage and reduce inflammation. I’ve also made this with all squash and all sweet potatoes and every time it’s delicious.
Quinoa is probably my favorite vegan form of protein because it’s a complete protein, which isn’t super common among plant proteins. It’s also a good source of fiber and a number of vitamins and minerals. You could definitely swap in your favorite grain as the base of this salad and it would still be delicious.
I’m a bit of a cilantro fangirl and have been known to double the cilantro in several recipes (this one included). As with most herbs, cilantro is full of antioxidants. And loading up on herbs is one of my favorite ways to take any recipe from meh to bomb.
I love the flavor jalapeno gives to this recipe and by removing the seeds and ribs it provides just a bit of heat. You can up the spice by leaving the ribs and/or seeds in, if that’s your thing.
Hemp seeds and pepitas add a nice texture as well as more protein and healthy fats to this dish. The pepitas are the real star here, though, so feel free to skip the hemp seeds and use just pepitas if you want.
Spicy Roasted Squash and Quinoa Salad
- 1 smallish butternut squash
- 1 medium white flesh sweet potato
- Avocado oil
- Salt and pepper
- 3/4 cup yellow quinoa
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 lime
- 1 jalapeno
- 1/2 bunch cilantro
- 1 tbsp hemp seeds
- 2 tbsp pepitas
- 1/4 tsp chili powder
- 1/4 cup picked red onions
- Preheat oven to 425° F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Carefully peel butternut squash, then cut in half lengthwise and slice the neck portion into ¼-inch half rounds. Then peel the sweet potatoes, cut in half lengthwise, and slice into ¼-inch rounds. In a medium bowl, toss squash and potatoes with a few tablespoons of avocado oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread in a single layer on baking sheet and bake for 20-30 minutes until underside of veggies is golden brown.
- Rinse quinoa well with cold water. Then place in a medium saucepan with water over high heat and bring to boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for about 15 minutes, until water is absorbed. Fluff quinoa and stir in a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Return the lid, and set aside.
- In a small bowl, zest the lime, being careful to avoid the bitter pith. Then slice the lime in half and squeeze the juice into the bowl. Slice the jalapeno in half and remove the seeds and ribs. Then thinly slice each half and add to the bowl. Add a healthy pinch of salt and set aside to let jalapeno macerate until veggies are done cooking.
- Roughly chop cilantro and set aside.
- Toast pepitas and hemp seeds in a small dry skillet over medium heat, tossing frequently, until seeds are golden brown. Remove from heat and toss with chili powder.
- To serve, spread quinoa on a serving dish and layer with roasted vegetables, toasted seeds, and pickled onions.