Winter Quinoa Salad with Roasted Squash, Caramelized Onions and Wilted Spinach

This easy, gluten-free and vegetarian salad is warming and hearty, perfect for cooler days. Delicious warm or cold, it makes a large quantity, keeps well for several days and pairs with everything.

Winter Quinoa Salad gluten free squash warm #glutenfreerecipes www.healthygffamily.com
Winter Quinoa Salad with Roasted Squash, Caramelized Onions and Wilted Spinach

With just 7 main ingredients, this savory salad is packed with different flavors and textures that make it so satisfying!

Update 3/23/20: I know I call this a “Winter” salad, and I might be regretting that name right now lol, but it was so perfect on this cold, Winter-like Spring day! It is warming and cozy but still fresh tasting — I substituted sweet potatoes for squash it is was delicious!

Even in the cold weather (and we are definitely in a cold snap right now!), we love a good salad.  Only now, we are loving heartier and warmer salads.

This simple salad is a Winter upgrade of our Autumn Quinoa Salad and is sooooo perfect right now.

Just 7 ingredients plus an olive oil/ lemon juice dressing, this salad is easy to prep but still packed with different flavors & textures and DELISH!

It’s simply cooked quinoa, caramelized onions, roasted butternut squash (substitute sweet potatoes if you don’t have squash), fresh baby spinach, dried cranberries, salted cashews and fresh sage all tossed with a little EVOO and lemon juice.

roasted squash winter quinoa salad gluten free #glutenfreerecipes www.healthygffamily.com

The caramelized onions, roasted squash and wilted spinach give the best warming flavors and pair perfectly with the brighter lemon juice and tart cranberries , while the salted cashews provide just a little crunch.

Delicious warm or room temp, this Winter Quinoa Salad is a versatile dish working equally well alongside other roasted veggies or grilled protein or even with the addition of feta or goat cheese.

And this recipe makes a large quantity, making it perfect for a crowd or for dinner, lunch and meal prep.

All you need to make it is: quinoa, 2 onions, cubed butternut squash, fresh baby spinach, salted cashews, dried cranberries, fresh sage, lemons for lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil and a little salt.

roasted squash winter quinoa salad gluten free #glutenfreerecipes www.healthygffamily.com

And it comes together quickly because so much is made at the same time.

The first thing I like to do is get the caramelized onions started because lots this salad’s flavor comes from the caramelized onions.

There are lots of ways to caramelize onions but the key is to not rush the cooking, let them cook up slowly.  These take about 20 minutes to caramelize which is the amount of time to cook quinoa  and the squash roasts in about 30 minutes, so it the entire salad comes together quickly.

Back to caramelizing onions…. Onions are naturally high in sugars and when they cook, they soften and get tender, releasing sugars which give them that yummy caramelized flavor as they continue to cook up and brown when you cook them slowly over a medium low heat for about 15-20 minutes.

While they slow cook, I like to make the quinoa…

roasted squash winter quinoa salad gluten free #glutenfreerecipes www.healthygffamily.com

And roast the squash with simply olive oil or neutral oil of choice and some salt.

To make it easy, I usually purchase already cubed butternut squash from the grocery store.
roasted squash winter quinoa salad gluten free #glutenfreerecipes www.healthygffamily.com

Then when everything is cooked up and still warm we assemble the salad.

First we stir in the fresh sage with the caramelized onions. Then we mix the quinoa with the cranberries and simple lemon juice/ olive oil dressing (it’s very light!).

Then we mix in the still warm squash and fresh spinach and gently combine so that the spinach wilts just a little bit.

Winter Quinoa Salad gluten free squash warm #glutenfreerecipes www.healthygffamily.com

Pro Tip: If you don’t get to mix in the spinach while the quinoa and squash are still warm you could saute it for just a few minutes so it start to wilt prior to adding to the salad.

Enjoy as is, with the addition of goat cheese or feta.

Hope you love it as much as we do!

For more hearty salads, click here.

Scroll down for recipe and leave a comment if you try.

Recipe

5.0 from 3 reviews
Winter Quinoa Salad with Roasted Squash, Caramelized Onions and Wilted Spinach
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
This easy, gluten-free and vegetarian salad is warming and hearty, perfect for cooler days. Delicious warm or cold, it makes a large quantity, keeps well for several days and pairs with everything.
Author:
Recipe type: Salads, Sides, Veggies,
Cuisine: Gluten-Free, Vegetarian, Vegan
Serves: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 cup quinoa, uncooked
  • 2-3 cups butternut squash cubed
  • kosher salt for sprinkling on squash
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced into rings (approximately 2 cups)
  • approximately ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup dried cranberries or more to taste (could also use dried cherries)
  • 2-3 tablespoons EVOO, divided plus extra for roasting squash
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped
  • ½ cup salted cashews (more to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1- 1½ cups packed baby spinach
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
Make Quinoa
  1. Rinse quinoa
  2. In a medium saucepan, add quinoa and 2 cups of water.
  3. Bring to a boil. Immediately reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and set aside.
Caramelize Onions
  1. Meanwhile, heat 1-2 tablespoon oil to cover the base of a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add onions, sprinkle with salt and cook over medium low heat, stirring occasionally until soft and golden brown, approx 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in sage.
  4. Tip: To get the brown crispy parts from the base of the skillet, add a tablespoon or two of water to the pan stir over medium low heat for a minute. The brown parts will "lift" from the pan and you can add them to the quinoa salad at the end for extra flavor if you want.
Roasted Butternut Squash (roast while quinoa cooks and onions caramelize)
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Gently toss cubed squash with 1-2 tablespoons olive oil or neutral oil of choice, place in a single layer on baking sheet and sprinkle with kosher salt.
  3. Bake 30 minutes, or until tender with crispy edges.
  4. Set aside.
Make Dressing
  1. Mix together remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and lemon juice.
Assemble
  1. Add cranberries to the dressing and let sit for a minute or two.
  2. Add dressing along with cranberries to cooked quinoa and toss to combine.
  3. Add onions and sage to the quinoa mixture and toss to combine
  4. Add squash and spinach to warm quinoa mixture and gently combine and let spinach wilt from warmth of quinoa and squash. Pro Tip: If quinoa and squash not warm enough, you could saute spinach for 1 minute or two to get it a little wilted.
  5. Add in cashews. Pro Tip: if not eating the entire salad at once, hold out some of the cashews and add in when serving. That way they will stay crunchy and salty.
  6. Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the extra brown bits from the caramelized onions skillet as desired. Add more lemon juice as desired. Stir well and enjoy!
  7. Serve warm or room temperature.
  8. Stays well in the refrigerator for several days in a sealed container.
Winter Quinoa Salad gluten free squash warm #glutenfreerecipes www.healthygffamily.com

8 thoughts on “Winter Quinoa Salad with Roasted Squash, Caramelized Onions and Wilted Spinach

  1. Loved the combination of the sweet onions and the sage in there! Such a great combination! Thanks for another great recipe!😍

  2. This was delicious! My husband even loved it 😉 Will definitely make more of your quinoa salads. Thank you for your wonderful recipes!

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