Have you all seen the Christmas decor making its way to store displays? It’s not even Thanksgiving yet! I know I say this every year, but man is time moving at warp speed. I was just settling into October and then bam, November hit and it’s already halfway over. Who’s with me?
This time of year brings busyness for many of us, as well as the temptation to steer off of the healthy path due to baked goods galore and let’s be real, the seasonal lattes from Starbucks (as if I’m not sitting here holding the infamous red cup in my hand as I update this post).
This recipe was originally posted in October 2015 and has recently been updated.
To help us stay on track, I have a delicious and healthy recipe for a butternut squash and quinoa mason jar salad with a light and refreshing apple cider vinaigrette that can be easily made ahead of time for a quick lunch or dinner!
I don’t know about you, but the thought of fall makes me feel all fluttery inside (in a good way). Why? Because the season is a gateway into my favorite time of year – the holidays!
If you’ve been around this neighborhood recently, you know that I love butternut squash. You can read about its many health benefits, here. This salad is packed with hearty nutrients that embody the essence of fall, while still being healthy and satisfying.
Here’s a nutritional breakdown of the salad components (aka, the vitality factor):
- Apples – high in vitamin C, B-complex vitamins, dietary fiber and phytonutrients, which help protect against the damaging effects of free radicals.
- Beets – also high in immune-boosting vitamin C, fiber, essential minerals (such as potassium and manganese) and folate.
- Pecans – full of antioxidants, vitamin E and healthy fats.
- Quinoa – great source of iron, vitamin B-6, magnesium, dietary fiber and protein (unlike many other grains!).
- Spinach – One of the best sources of dietary potassium and magnesium, and is also one of the best plant-based sources of iron.
If you’re looking for a quick and healthy meal on the go, then this butternut squash and quinoa mason jar salad is for you! It’s so delicious, I guarantee it will become a fall staple in your household.
Now, let’s get to cooking in one, two, three (yes, it’s that easy) steps!
Step 1: Roast the Veggies
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Peel and dice the butternut squash and beets into ½” cubes (a fancy way for saying bite-sized!). My grocery store didn’t have raw beets, so I had to opt for already steamed and peeled. If you don’t want pink-stained hands, I suggest you go this route, but nothing replaces the yummy flavor of homemade roasted beets.
Toss the cubed veggies with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Then, spread the vegetables in a thin layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until fork tender.
Once the veggies are done, set aside and cool for 10-15 minutes.
Step 2: The Apple Cider Vinaigrette
If you have a microplane zester/grater, grate the shallot into a small bowl. If you don’t have one, I highly recommend you do. But for now, you can mince the shallot, no big deal.
To the shallot, add the apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, honey, squeeze of lemon and salt and pepper. Whisk to combine. Next, slowly drizzle in the olive oil while continuously whisking.
Step 3: Assembly time!
When making a mason jar salad, there’s a strategic way to layering the ingredients to prevent the greens from wilting and to keeping everything nice and fresh. For a full tutorial on how to layer a mason jar salad, check out this post.
Layering order from bottom to top: 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinaigrette, apple slices, roasted butternut squash and beets, cooked quinoa, toasted walnuts, parmesan cheese shavings (optional), and spinach.
*Once assembled, salads will last in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Don’t forget – when ready to eat, unscrew the lid, place a plate on top and flip it over to dump the ingredients on a plate! This ensures that you get all that yummy dressing on the salad, instead of digging a fork into the jar and wondering how to get to the good stuff at the bottom.
What are your tips for staying healthy on the go? Share with me in the comment section below!
Don’t forget to pin for later!