The first time I heard about roasted squash and grapes as a pairing, I was surprised. I’d tried roasting apples, pears, and some stone fruits, but it had never occurred to me to roast grapes. And with squash? I was skeptical—until I tried it, and I was impressed at how delicious it was. The grapes highlight the natural sweetness of squash, but butternut is mild enough that the sweet notes aren’t overwhelming. Somehow, it works, and it works well.
This party-friendly roasted brussels sprout, butternut squash & grape salad with quinoa is a tribute to this classic, autumnal side dish, but the roasted components are combined with fluffy quinoa and crisp greens. I loved adding brussels sprouts to the squash and grapes—their slight bitterness and crispy skins were a perfect contrast with the other ingredients.
I created the salad with tender spring mix from Earthbound Farm. I love Earthbound greens: they’re always fresh, flavorful, and organically grown. You could use a more bitter leafy green if you like (such as baby kale or arugula), but I like how the mildness of spring mix allows other components of the salad to shine.
The salad is perfect for holiday parties or entertaining. You can prepare the dressing, cooked quinoa, and all of the roasted veggies in advance, then transport the components with the spring mix and toss it all together before serving. The salad will also hold nicely after it’s dressed for at least a couple hours, so you can get it ready at home and take it to a friend’s place a little while later. Best of all, it’s the kind of salad that’s so hearty and flavorful that it can stand on its own as a potluck entree.
Once upon a time, I was always hesitant to make salads my potluck contribution; I was sensitive about inadvertently playing to the stereotype that all vegans eat is green leafy stuff. But when salads are packed with whole grains and roasted vegetables, they become so much more layered and satiating than the lighter, leafier mixes that often get served as side dishes.
Nowadays, grain salads are probably the dish I contribute most often when I’m invited anyplace, and they’re always appreciated by a crowd. Here’s the recipe for this autumnal, colorful, flavorful concoction.
Roasted Brussels Sprout, Butternut Squash & Grape Salad with Quinoa
For the salad:
- 1 lb peeled and cubed butternut squash about 1 small squash
- 1 1/2 cups red seedless grapes
- 3/4 lb brussels sprouts halved (about 3 cups)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 3/4 cup dry quinoa rinsed
- 5 ounces 4-5 cups Earthbound Farm spring mix
For the dressing:
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon minced shallot
- 2 tablespoons sherry or white wine vinegar
- 1 heaping teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup or agave syrup optional; I like a little sweetness in vinaigrettes
- 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat your oven to 400F and line two baking sheets with parchment or foil. Place the squash and grapes on one tray and drizzle with a tablespoon of the oil; place the brussels on the other sheet and drizzle them with the remaining tablespoon oil. Sprinkle the vegetables with salt and pepper. Transfer them to the oven and roast for 25-30 minutes, or until they squash is very tender and the sprouts are tender and getting crispy on the outside. You may need to remove the brussels sprouts from the oven before the squash is done.
- While the vegetables roast, cook the quinoa according to package instructions. Fluff the grain and set it aside.
- To prepare the dressing, whisk all ingredients together in a small mixing bowl or shake them up in a sealed mason jar.
- After the vegetables are cooked, allow them to cool until they're slightly warm or room temperature. Toss the vegetables, quinoa, greens, and dressing together. Taste the salad and adjust the vinegar, salt, and pepper as desired. Serve.
There’s plenty of room to change the salad up a bit. If you don’t have butternut, try acorn or delicata squash, or you can swap the grapes for cubed apple if that’s what you find locally. You can add some crunch to the salad in the form of toasted walnuts, pine nuts, or pumpkin seeds, and I’m guessing that candied nuts would be terrific, too.
With all of the hustle and commotion at this time of year, it’s a relief to share food that feeds a crowd, is easy to prepare ahead of time, and is as veggie-forward and wholesome as it is enjoyable to eat. I hope you’ll get some pleasure from this meal, whether you share it or keep it all to yourself. And I hope you have a smooth start to a new week.