Pumpkin quinoa salad made with chunks of pumpkin roasted to golden, crispy-edged perfection in a coating of honey, extra virgin olive oil and warming spices. Quinoa, rocket, capsicum, red onion and crunchy flaked almonds round out this delicious meal. The recipe is gluten free, dairy free and perfect for a healthy lunch.
Originally published April 2018 | Reviewed and updated January 2023
- Convenient hands off cooking. Roasting vegetables is my favourite way to cook them; it’s no mess, no fuss, hands-off but with big flavour returns. Especially when it comes to pumpkin. Roasting pumpkin makes it so incredibly sweet and delicious.
- Easy meal prep for lunch or dinner. You can make roast vegetables and quinoa a few days in advance so this salad is a cinch to throw together. If you pack it for lunch, keep the dressing separate and just toss it on before eating.
- Adaptable and allergy friendly recipe. You can add different veggies into this recipe such as zucchini, eggplant, carrot, cauliflower or broccoli, which all roast really well. The base recipe is plant based, dairy free and gluten free, you can also make it nut free (swap the almonds for pumpkin seeds).
- Pumpkin. I love to use Jap Pumpkin, also called Japanese Pumpkin or Kabocha. You can also use butternut pumpkin i.e. butternut squash.
- Red onion. Sweet and delicious, this is the best onion for roasting in salads.
- Red capsicum. Another vegetable that develops a wonderful sweet flavour when roasted.
- Rocket. Using fresh rocket in this salad adds a contrasting texture and flavour. The fresh leaves have a slightly peppery flavour which works well with the sweeter roasted vegetables.
- Fresh parsley. Another contrasting zesty flavour which is also incredibly nutritious.
- Lemon. With all the spices used to make the pumpkin, a squeeze of lemon juice and a good glug of olive oil is really all you need to dress this salad.
- Quinoa. A naturally gluten free ‘pseudo cereal’ it’s actually a seed but we eat it like a grain. Nutty and delicious it adds protein to the salad.
- Flaked almonds. For the crunch factor and also a bit of extra protein and healthy fats.
- Extra virgin olive oil. The king of oils, it’s basically the only oil I have in my kitchen. A beautiful flavour for both roasting and dressing this salad.
- Salt and pepper.
See the recipe card for quantities.
For coating the pumpkin you will need:
- Ground coriander, cumin and cinnamon – this spice blend is essential for boosting the overall flavour of the salad.
- Honey for sweetness.
- Extra virgin olive oil.
- Run out of pumpkin? You could use sweet potato instead! The same spices will work on the sweet potato. You will just need to increase the roasting time as sweet potatoes tend to take longer to cook.
- The pumpkin is already coated in a yummy mix of spices and a little honey. You could also add a pinch of chilli flakes to the mix for a spicy kick.
- Flaked almonds can be swapped for chopped pecans or walnuts. So yummy! For a nut-free option, swap the flaked almonds to pumpkin seeds.
- No rocket? Use baby spinach instead.
- Finally, you can also swap the honey for maple syrup or brown rice syrup.
I made this honey roast pumpkin quinoa salad so I’d have a new exciting option to take to work, so usually I’ll eat this cold. Proteins that I like to add are:
- feta cheese
- grilled chicken
- grilled salmon
- canned tuna
- canned chickpeas.
All of these can be organised in advance. Yay for meal prep! You could also serve it fresh and slightly warm, with pan-fried halloumi on top.
Besides pumpkin and capsicum, vegetables that you can roast and add to quinoa salad are zucchini, carrot, eggplant, broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts. I really recommend keeping the onion in, but you could leave the capsicum out if you don’t have any.
Roast vegetables should last up to 4 days in the fridge stored in an airtight container.
Cooked quinoa should last up to 4 days in the fridge stored in an airtight container. But did you know you can also FREEZE cooked quinoa? Store in a ziplock bag and simply heat up a portion when you need it (remove from ziplock bag and heat in a heat-safe container).
If you make this salad don’t forget to take a snap and tag me on Instagram!
- 500 grams pumpkin (no need to peel)
- 1 red onion
- 1 red capsicum
- 80 grams rocket – about 3-4 big handfuls
- 3 sprigs fresh parsley
- 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 cup quinoa measured uncooked – I used white quinoa
- 4 tbsp flaked almonds
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper to season
- Preheat oven to 180C and grab two non-stick oven trays or line the trays with baking paper (I prefer baking paper for an easy cleanup!!)
- PREPARE PUMPKIN: Chop pumpkin into small chunks, about 2cm square. Place in a large bowl. Whisk together 1 tbsp olive oil, 2 tsp honey, cumin, coriander and cinnamon in a mug. Pour the mixture over the pumpkin and toss until the pumpkin is coated. Spread the pumpkin out on one baking tray.
- PREPARE OTHER VEGGIES: Thickly slice capsicum and red onion. Spread out on the other baking tray and drizzle over 1 tbsp olive oil, and toss around a little.
- COOK VEGGIES: Place both trays in the oven to roast for 45 minutes, or until the veggies are nice and soft and starting to brown at the edges.
- MAKE QUINOA: While the vegetables are roasting, make the quinoa. Rinse quinoa, place in a saucepan with 1 cup of water. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and very gently simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Once cooked leave the lid on the saucepan and allow the quinoa to sit for 10 minutes before removing the lid and fluffing with a fork.
- Once the quinoa and the vegetables are all cooked, allow everything to cool before combining. You want the mix around room temperature, or just slightly warmer.
- IF YOU ARE MAKING INGREDIENTS IN ADVANCE: You can store the vegetables and the quinoa separately in the fridge now, in airtight containers, for up to 4 days.
- CONTINUE WITH SALAD ASSEMBLY: Mix it up. Take a large bowl and add in the quinoa, roasted vegetables, rocket and flaked almonds. Chop the parsley (discarding thick stems) and add to the bowl as well. Drizzle over remaining olive oil, squeeze over the juice of the lemon and season with salt and pepper. Toss it all together. Ready to serve!
- You can use maple syrup or brown rice syrup instead of honey. If you would like to make this salad 100% vegan and avoid honey, this is the option for you!
- Swap the flaked almonds to another chopped nut e.g. walnuts, pecans, or swap to pumpkin seeds for a nut free salad.
- Serve with additional protein – chickpeas, feta, chicken, salmon or tuna would all work. If you’re serving this fresh, it’s SO good with pan-fried halloumi on top!