I make up a lot of quinoa salad recipes, mostly because most dishes I prepare follow a simple equation: whole grains, beans, and vegetables. Sometimes I add in fruit and nuts. Most of the dishes are one-bowl wonders with the whole meal mixed in together.
A good majority of the things I make are good, but a lot aren't really pretty. Once mixed together, they look like vegan slop. Slop that's healthy for you and tastes good going down but isn't exactly a feast for the eyes.
In order to make it on Vegan Nutritionista, the recipe has to be delicious, simple, AND pretty, and this quinoa salad with butternut squash, arugula, and raisins fit the bill and needed to be shared.
This is the perfect shoulder season dish- right as the last of the butternut squashes are staring at you from the winter and once the arugula has pops out of the ground in the winter, you can hop on this recipe. It's also perfect in the fall when arugula and butternut squash ripen at the same time.
I tossed this quinoa salad recipe with inspiration from one of my favorite vegan cookbooks. I wanted my version to be gluten-free and it needed to adapt for what I had on hand, so it's different, but inspired by Chloe Coscarelli. If you've never made anything from Chloe's Kitchen or Chloe's Desserts, you're really missing out.
If you're missing any of these ingredients, I fully encourage you to substitute and play around with the ingredients. Sweet potatoes or acorn squash would be perfect instead of butternut squash, cranberries could be subbed in for raisins, and another peppery green could replace arugula. You could use any whole grain you like instead of quinoa and another bean if you prefer the flavor of something else.
I think the ingredients in this salad worked together because I like the light and fluffy texture of quinoa, the softness of white beans, the sweetness in the butternut squash, roasted onions, and raisins, and the peppery balance of arugula. It's not a fussy recipe and you don't have to be too precise with sizes or measurements-- a big onion or a big butternut squash won't make a bit of difference.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. On a cookie sheet, place your butternut squash and onion chunks and lightly cover them with olive oil and a dash of salt. Cook the squash and onions until they are browned and soft enough to stick a fork through, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and place them in a large bowl.
Bring the water to a boil, add in the quinoa, return to a boil and then reduce the heat to low to cook the quinoa. It should take about 20 minutes for it to cook and it will be light and airy when it's done.
Add the cooked quinoa to the bowl that holds the squash and onions, as well as the white beans, raisins, walnuts, and season with salt and pepper to taste. When the ingredients have cooled, add in the arugula and mint and the best olive oil you have on hand. Season with salt and pepper and serve.