“Cultivating the art of a well lived life…naturally"

Fall Quinoa Salad (With Kale, Root Vegetables, and Maple Vinaigrette)


By Nancy Smorch

A couple of weeks ago I was on Facebook and saw that my favorite West Michigan deli, Farmhouse Deli in Douglas, was serving a tasty sounding fall salad with quinoa, butternut squash, and kale, with a maple vinaigrette.  I was planning on going there that day to try it, but the day got away from me and when I went to get some the next day, they were all out.

It was a cooler fall day and the sound of a warm salad with a little sweetness to it sounded perfect, so I thought I would try to make my own version of their salad.  I still had a ton of kale in my garden so I thought this would be a great way to use some of it.  And even though my family isn’t always big on quinoa, I thought by adding the slightly sweet maple vinaigrette, it might win them over and I’d be able to sneak lots of great veggies into them.

I had just been to the farmers market so I had some great-looking butternut squash and beets, and Frankie had harvested some of her potatoes from the garden that I though would be perfect as well.  I decided I would add some toasted pecans too - they would complement everything nicely.

Then I had to figure out how to make the maple vinaigrette.  I figured it would have an olive oil base with a bit of balsamic vinegar.  And of course, there would be some maple syrup.  I added a touch of cinnamon because that sounded like fall and then a bit of dijon mustard so it wasn’t too sweet or too vinegary.

I experimented a bit with everything until I got a taste I liked and then served it to Mike and the girls for dinner.  To their surprise, they loved it!  This will definitely be something I will make again and again.

Here’s what I did:



4 cups cooked quinoa (red makes the prettiest salad)

1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed

3 large potatoes, cubed

1 large beet, peeled and cubed

1/2 cup pecans toasted

1 bunch of kale, deveined, and chopped

olive oil


Heat oven to 375 F.  In a big bowl, mix the potatoes and butternut squash with 2-3 Tbsp. olive oil.  Season with sea salt and pepper, mix until evenly coated and spread onto a baking dish. Cook in the oven for about 30 minutes or until tender.

In a separate bowl drizzle about 1 Tbsp. olive oil, sea salt, and pepper, onto the cubed beets.  Mix and put in a separate baking dish in the oven to cook for about 30 minutes as well (or until desired tenderness).

Put the pecans in, yet, a separate small baking dish and put in the same oven, but only for 5-10 minutes - until just toasted and fragrant.

Heat 1-2 Tbsp. olive oil in a pan over medium heat and add the kale.  Saute for about 5 minutes.

In a large serving bowl mix together the cooked quinoa, butternut squash, potatoes, beets, kale, and pecans.  Drizzle with the maple vinaigrette (recipe below) - start out with a little and work up (you can always add, but you can’t take away!).  Toss and taste!

Season with more salt and pepper if needed, and serve.

Maple Vinaigrette Dressing

1/2 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil

2-3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 tsp. cinnamon

2 Tbsp. dijon mustard

3 Tbsp. water

1/4 tsp. sea salt

pepper to taste

Put all of the ingredients in a bowl and whisk.