Quinoa Salad with Kale and Butternut Squash

quinoa salad in a square bowl on a white cloth

I don’t love either kale or quinoa, but this cool weather salad makes me want to eat both. I make it with butternut squash, carrots and tomatoes (if they’re still around). Sometimes I add red cabbage, walnuts or pumpkin seeds for extra crunch.

Quinoa has a bitter aftertaste not everyone likes. If I make plain quinoa as a side dish, my husband and kids push it around on their plates. I have to slip quinoa into recipes hoping they won’t notice. My family feels the same way about kale, sadly. Kale is a healthy fresh green, and we all need to eat more of those.

But this salad is different. It gets eaten, and they usually ask for more.

The secret is the sweet (sugar-free) dressing. It’s made with grapeseed or canola oil, apple cider vinegar, stevia and salt. You can substitute any sweet vinegar you have on hand. I like the sweet-tart flavors of ume plum and pomegranate vinegars.

Don’t overcook the quinoa. It should be al dente. Make sure it’s cold or at room temperature before tossing the cooked quinoa with the vegetables, or you’ll end up with a soggy mess. The flavors of this salad blend well and improve if you make it a day ahead, and keep it in the fridge overnight.

Springhouse Turtle Eats

Quinoa Salad with Kale and Butternut Squash

Side Dish
By Springhouse Turtle Serves: 4-6
Prep Time: 30 minutes Total Time: 30 minutes

Quick and delicious, this quinoa salad is loaded with butternut squash and kale, and coated with a slightly sweet dressing.


  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained (I use red or white quinoa)
  • 1 1/2 cups filtered water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup fresh kale, sliced into ribbons
  • 3/4 cup grated carrots
  • 2 cups cooked butternut squash, cubed (see NOTE)
  • Optional: a quarter-cup of minced tomato, a half-cup of pumpkin seeds or walnuts, a half-cup of chopped red cabbage for extra flavor and crunch.
  • 3 tablespoons organic canola or grapeseed oil
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 teaspoon liquid stevia
  • Pinch salt



Put the quinoa, water and 1 teaspoon salt into a small saucepan with a lid.


Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 15 minutes. Check after 10 minutes to make sure the water hasn't boiled off.


Remove the quinoa from heat, drain any excess water. Stir to allow steam to evaporate, and allow to cool for a few minutes, uncovered.


Pour the quinoa into a glass container, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.


Put kale, carrots, and butternut squash (and any optional ingredients) into a large bowl.


Stir in the cooled quinoa, and set aside.


In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, stevia and pinch of salt until it becomes cloudy.


Pour the dressing over the salad, and mix until combined. (Sometimes it's easiest to do this with your hands to avoid flattening the butternut squash.)


Refrigerate for at least an hour. Serve cold or at room temperature.


This salad will keep, covered, in the fridge for up to three days. The flavor improves if you make it a day ahead.


Use fresh butternut squash in this salad. Wash and prick a butternut squash, then set it on a baking sheet or dish. Bake it at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until you can easily push a fork into it. Don't overcook it or it will be too soft. Remove from oven, allow to cool, cut in half, remove the seeds (save them for roasting), peel, and cut the flesh into cubes. You'll need about half a medium-sized butternut squash for this recipe.

Cook the quinoa, and put it into the fridge to cool off. Slice the kale into ribbons.

chopped kale in a pyrex measuring cup on a wood counter

Grate the carrots.

grated carrots in a pyrex measuring cup on a wood counter

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Toss with dressing.

kale, grated carrots, quinoa and tomatoes in a bowl

Refrigerate the finished quinoa salad. Serve it cold or at room temperature.

finished quinoa salad with butternut squash cubes and chopped kale

Springhouse Turtle Eats


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