Kale, Quinoa, and Butternut Squash Salad with Cranberry-Citrus Vinaigrette

Yield 8 servings


The Dressing


  1. Prepare the squash. See Prep Tips above. Cut into dice-size (or a little larger) cubes. Toss the cubes with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast on a baking sheet in a 425 degree oven for 20-30 minutes until squash begins to turn brown and is tender when pierced with a fork. Don’t overcook the squash. It should still be somewhat firm.  Let cool.
  2. Measure 1/2 cup quinoa then rinse thoroughly under cool running water in a mesh strainer. Pour ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons of water into a saucepan and add the quinoa. Turn the heat to high and bring the liquid and quinoa to a boil. Once it has reached a full boil, turn the heat down to medium-low and place the lid on the saucepan.  Simmer the quinoa for 15 minutes, or until all of the water is absorbed and the kernels have "popped open." Remove the top of the saucepan and let the steam escape. Gently transfer the cooked quinoa to a cookie sheet and spread it out so the steam escapes as the quinoa cools.  
  3. While the squash is roasting make the dressing: Place the vinegar in a small bowl or jar and add the chopped shallot. Let sit for 15 minutes, then add the lemon juice, cranberry juice cocktail, pecan or other oil, lemon zest and a generous pinch of salt. Taste with a leaf of kale and adjust salt if needed.
  4. Place the chopped kale in a large bowl. Shake the dressing well.  Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the dressing on the kale. With clean hands, gently work the dressing into the kale, squeezing it lightly for a few minutes until it turns bright green.
  5. Add the cooked quinoa, cranberries, pepitas (or any nut you are using)to the kale. Fold gently until all ingredients are well distributed.
  6. Shake the dressing again, then add 2-3 tablespoons of it to the salad, tossing until everything is coated. Taste and add more dressing as needed.


  • Use any kind of nut you enjoy.  I used pepitas and tossed in a few Marcona almonds but other nuts such as toasted pecans or walnuts would work well too.
  • The analysis for this recipe included 1/2 teaspoon salt. 

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size about 3/4 cup

Amount Per Serving

Calories 169

% Daily Value

Total Fat 10 g


Saturated Fat 1 g


Sodium 166 mg


Total Carbohydrates 19 g


Dietary Fiber 4 g


Protein 4 g


* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Recipe by Empty Nest Eats at