This protein-packed quinoa dish full of creamy acorn squash, crunchy apples, and toasted walnuts is naturally gluten free and vegan.
If you’re looking for an easy make-ahead side dish or simply want to incorporate more meatless meals into your weekly menu, this quinoa dish is for you! Packed with juicy apples, roasted acorn squash, and toasted walnuts, this Quinoa Salad with Acorn Squash and Apples is bursting with flavor and contrasting textures. Parsley, scallions, and lemon juice add freshness and bright flavors to bring everything together.
- Acorn squash: Also called pepper squash, it is sweet and slightly nutty in flavor.
- Olive oil: A healthy, fresh dressing for the salad.
- Quinoa: Fluffy and nutty, quinoa is also rich in fiber and protein, making it a great option for vegetarians and vegans.
- Apple: I’d recommend using Fuji, gala, or honeycrisp apples for their sweet, floral flavor, but any apple would work, while possibly changing the overall flavor.
- Scallions: A mild onion, often eaten raw, that adds a slight kick and helps to round out the salad.
- Parsley: Fresh, clean, and a little peppery in taste.
- Lemon juice: Bright, fresh, and clean flavor to help dress the salad.
- Walnuts: When toasted, walnuts become sweeter, richer in flavor, and gain an extra crunch.
How to Make Quinoa Salad with Acorn Squash and Apples
Start by deseeding your acorn squash and cutting it into cubes.
Then lay them in an even layer on a prepared sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes.
On the stove or in a rice cooker, cook the quinoa according to package instructions. This recipe is also a great way to use leftover quinoa.
While quinoa is cooking and squash is roasting, prepare the rest of your ingredients.
Once your quinoa is finished, put it in the bowl and add the freshly chopped parsley.
Next you’ll add the freshly cut scallions.
And then finish with your apple.
Then you’ll toast your walnuts in a dry pan for 4-5 minutes, you’ll know they’re done when they smell toasted. Add them to the bowl.
Once the acorn squash is finished roasting, add it to the bowl as well.
Stir everything together, and drizzle in remaining olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
Toss well to make sure everything is evenly coated and incorporated, then serve!
Frequently Asked Questions:
How do I store leftovers?
Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Why don’t you peel the acorn squash?
Once roasted and tender, the skin is yummy and easy to eat. You can still peel it if you prefer, but I like to keep it!
Are scallions and green onions the same thing?
Yes, they are exactly the same.
Easy Ingredient Swaps
- Change out the squash. Instead of acorn squash, you could make this recipe with butternut squash, or even pumpkin!
- Don’t like quinoa? You could switch the quinoa out for couscous, brown rice, or cauliflower rice.
- Switch out the walnuts. Toasted almonds or peanuts would also complement the flavors of this dish.
More Vegetarian Recipes
- Vegan Tomato Kibbeh
- Smashed Chickpea Salad with Dill
- Black Bean Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
- Cauliflower Tacos with Chipotle Tahini Sauce
- Authentic Lebanese Falafel
In this busy time of year filled with so many indulgent and decadent dishes, it is always nice to have at least one guilt-free option you can feel good about serving your friends and family.
Your fork is waiting.
Quinoa Salad with Acorn Squash and Apples
- 1 acorn squash (seeded and cut cubes (skin-on))
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil (divided)
- 1 teaspoon salt (divided)
- ½ teaspoon pepper (divided)
- 1 cup quinoa (uncooked & prepared according to package instructions)
- 1 apple (cored and diced)
- ½ cup scallions (minced)
- ¼ cup parsley (minced)
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- ⅓ cup chopped walnuts (toasted)
- Pre-heat oven to 400 and line a baking sheet with foil.
- Place acorn cubes in a resealable plastic bag and coat with half of the olive oil, salt and pepper (2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.) Seal bag and shake well to combine.
- Scatter squash on prepared baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes or until softened.
- While squash is baking, combine cooked quinoa, diced apple, scallions and parsley in a large bowl.
- Toast walnuts in a dry pan for 4-5 minutes over medium heat or until they smell toasted. Add to bowl with quinoa.
- Add cooked squash to the quinoa and dress with lemon juice, remaining olive oil, salt and pepper (2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.) Toss well and season with additional salt or pepper if needed.