A warm Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Salad with sweet potato, Brussels sprouts, and kale is the perfect healthy and cozy vegetarian dish for fall or winter. This easy salad recipe is tossed with the most delicious honey mustard vinaigrette and served with crunchy pecans and pomegranate for extra flavor and texture. It can be served as an entree or side dish, and it makes a colorful and festive salad option for the holidays.
It's common to gravitate more toward hot veggie soups and away from cool, crisp salads when it's cold out. But this Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Salad is something you'll actually crave during the winter.
It's warm, hearty, and flavorful. Everything cozy and comforting for a cold day.
This recipe can be served two ways. Make a larger portion and serve it as an entree salad for four. Or break it into smaller dishes and serve as a side dish for a larger crowd.
I love this recipe as a festive holiday salad to balance out some of the heavier offerings at Thanksgiving or Christmas.
For a delicious weekday meal, serve with Tuscan White Bean Soup.
The key to a satisfying winter salad is a good mix of warm roasted vegetables, hearty greens, a starchy carb like quinoa, and full-flavored dressing.
One of my favorite salad dressings to pair with seasonal fall/winter veggies is this honey mustard vinaigrette with apple cider vinegar and thyme. It's so delicious with roasted Brussels sprouts, especially.
Crunchy pecans and tart pomegranate add an extra punch of texture, color, and flavor to this dish. No sad salads here!
Here are all of the ingredients you'll need to make this recipe.
- Sweet potato
- Brussels sprouts
- Grapeseed oil
- Garlic powder
- Quinoa - the recipe calls for dry, but you can buy precooked, too
- Extra virgin olive oil (optional)
- Pecans - buy pecan pieces or chop them yourself
- Pomegranate seeds - opt for a container of pomegranate seeds if you don't want to remove them from the whole fruit yourself
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Cider vinegar - I like to use raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar
- Mustard - Dijon or whole grain mustards both work well
- Honey - or hot honey. Use maple syrup for vegan version
- Fresh thyme
See the recipe card at the bottom of this post for exact quantities and preparation.
This is a basic rundown for how to make this roasted vegetable quinoa salad. You can find more detailed instructions in the recipe card at the end of this post.
Toss sweet potato and Brussels sprouts with grapeseed oil and seasoning. Roast in a 450ºF oven for 30 minutes, or until browned and tender.
In the meantime, cook the quinoa. While the quinoa cooks, add kale and extra virgin olive oil to a large mixing bowl and use your hands to massage until tender.
In a separate small bowl or jar, mix together the dressing ingredients.
Combine the massaged kale, roasted vegetables, cooked quinoa, pecans, pomegranate, and dressing.
Hint: Massaging the kale with extra virgin olive oil infuses the greens with the oil's flavor and breaks down the hard, fibrous parts of the kale. Grab and squeeze the kale with your hands for a couple of minutes or until the greens are tender.
Need to make an ingredient swap? Here are a few substitutions that work well for this recipe.
- Kale - instead of kale, you can use spinach. (Skip the massaging with oil step.)
- Pecans - use another chopped nut, such as walnuts or pistachios. For a nut-free version, use pumpkin seeds.
- Vegan - replace the honey in the dressing with maple syrup.
You can easily change up this recipe to make it your own. Here are a few ideas.
- Chickpea - add cooked chickpeas for extra protein and texture. Great for making the salad a more complete and filling meal.
- Summer - to make this recipe more seasonal during summer months, roast zucchini and summer squash instead of sweet potato and Brussels sprouts (reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees Fahrenheit) and use fresh berries instead of pomegranate.
- Wild Rice - use wild rice instead of quinoa. Cook the wild rice according to package instructions.
See this Chickpea Sheet Pan Dinner with similar flavors from Maple Mustard Vinaigrette.
- Knife and cutting board - use to chop the veggies
- Rimmed baking sheet - you'll need a baking sheet to roast the sweet potato and Brussels sprouts in the oven. I did not line it for this recipe.
- Mixing bowls - get your largest bowl to toss together all of the salad ingredients. Then, you can transfer it to a serving dish for the table after it's all combined.
This salad is best enjoyed immediately, when the roasted vegetables are fresh out of the oven and the quinoa is still warm. The heat lightly cooks and warms up the other salad ingredients.
If you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to five days. Reheat in the microwave or serve at room temperature.
This recipe doesn't stand up well to freezing.
Don't overcrowd the baking sheet with vegetables when roasting! Spread them out as much as possible so they aren't touching each other. This gives the vegetables space to caramelize and crisp instead of being steamed.
You can certainly eat roasted vegetables cold or at room temperature. You may find roasted vegetables to be more satisfying when served warm, especially during the colder fall and winter seasons.
For the best roasted vegetables, make sure you're using enough oil and don't crowd the pan. The vegetables should be spread out in a single layer. The oven temperature is also important. Set the oven between 400 and 450 degrees Fahrenheit for crisp and caramelized roasted veggies.
Looking for more vegetarian salad ideas? Try these:
These are my favorite dishes to serve with this Warm Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Salad:
Warm Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Salad
- Knife and cutting board
- Baking sheet
- Mixing bowls
For the salad:
- 1 medium sweet potato , cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 pound Brussels sprouts , trimmed and halved (2 ¾ cups)
- 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup dry quinoa
- 4 cups chopped kale
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil (optional)
- ½ cup chopped pecans
- ½ cup pomegranate seeds
For the dressing:
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons mustard
- 1 tablespoon honey (see note 1)
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- 2 cloves garlic , minced
- ¼ teaspoon salt
Prepare the salad:
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees fahrenheit.
- Transfer the sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts to a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with grapeseed oil and sprinkle garlic powder and salt. Use your hands to mix the vegetables until they are evenly coated with oil and seasoning. Arrange the brussels sprouts so they are cut-side down on the baking sheet. Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and roast for 30 minutes, or until vegetables are tender and browned.
- In the meantime, bring quinoa and 1 cup of water to a boil. Once boiling, cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook covered for 15 minutes, or until the quinoa is tender and the liquid is absorbed. Turn off the heat and fluff quinoa with a fork.
- While the quinoa is cooking, add the kale and extra virgin olive oil (if using) to a large mixing bowl and massage with your hands for 2 minutes, or until kale is tender.
Prepare the dressing:
- In a separate small bowl, whisk extra virgin olive oil, cider vinegar, mustard, honey, thyme, garlic, and salt. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
Assemble the salad:
- Add the roasted vegetables, cooked quinoa, pecans, pomegranate, and dressing to the bowl of kale and toss until combined. Enjoy!
- Honey/Vegan Option: Use regular honey or substitute hot honey for extra spicy flavor. Use maple syrup instead of honey to make this recipe vegan.
- Storage: Serve immediately for the best results. If there are leftovers, store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to five days. Reheat in the microwave or serve at room temperature. Do not freeze.
- Nutrition facts are estimates only and based on a side dish serving of ⅛ of the full recipe.