Crispy Quinoa Squash and Kale Salad with Garlic Tahini (Vegan GF)

This Crispy Quinoa Squash and Kale Salad with Garlic Tahini is delicious wholesome, nourishing and high-protein meal. Packed with crispy baked quinoa, roasted chickpeas and tons of veg, it is drizzled with garlic tahini for the best meal prep.

If you love a textured salad then this one is for you. I have recently fallen in love with crispy quinoa which is having a moment on social media right now. I am always a sucker for something crunch on top of a salad (or any meal really) and crispy quinoa ticks all the boxes: it adds wholegrain carbohydrates; is a source of protein and fibre; is naturally vegan, gluten-free and nut-free; and crisps up wonderfully. And let’s not forget about all the other delicious components in this salad:

  • Crispy quinoa
  • Tajin-roasted crunchy chickpeas
  • Soft massaged kale
  • Cubes of tender butternut squash
  • Juicy pomegranate
  • Crunchy walnuts and hemp seeds (great for omegas)
  • The creamiest, most delicious garlic tahini dressing
A salad bowl with Crispy Quinoa Squash and Kale Salad with Garlic Tahini
Crispy Quinoa Squash and Kale Salad with Garlic Tahini

Why will I love this salad?

If you need more reason to love this salad other than mentioned above:

  • Healthy, wholesome, fresh and delicious
  • Filling yet light and nourishing
  • Packed with protein, fibre and healthy fats
  • Loaded with vitamins and minerals
  • Colourful and easy to make
  • Ready in less than 10 minutes of prep time
  • Great to make ahead of time for meal prep lunches and dinners
  • Drizzled with the best garlicky tahini dressing

If you already want to make this salad, skip ahead to the recipe card below. Or, first let’s discuss the recipe in more detail.

What ingredients do I need?

The recipe is split into three components: the roasted parts; the salad; and the dressing.

Let’s start with the roasted elements:

  • Quinoa: this is the star of the show. Cook your quinoa until tender and with a slight bite (I typically cook mine 1 part quinoa to 2 parts water, bring to the boil then simmer with a lid on for 12 minutes, but check your packet for instructions). Allow the quinoa to cool slightly and spread it out on the tray before roasting.
  • Butternut squash: or you can use pumpkin, another type of squash or sweet potato.
  • Red onion: or white onion, for roasting and tossing into the salad.
  • Garlic: this recipe requires a whole garlic bulb (don’t worry we don’t eat it all) as I love trimming the bulb, rubbing with olive oil and salt, wrapping in foil and roasting till tender and sticky sweet. It really takes the edge off garlic and adds a rich flavour to the dressing.
  • Chickpeas: I love the Bold Bean Co chickpeas, but any will do here. Pat them dry before adding to the tray and roasting till crispy and crunchy.
  • Olive oil: for crisping up the vegetables. I like to use a richly flavoured oil as it really adds more flavour but light or medium olive oil will also work, as well a nut or seed oil.
  • Tajin seasoning, salt and pepper: this is for the flavour. Tajin is a Mexican chilli and lime seasoning which is so delicious and I sprinkle it on everything. If you don’t have any, hot smoked paprika is also delicious.

As for the salad:

  • Kale: I prefer to use cavolo nero or dinosaur kale but curly kale will also work. Get ready of any woody stems as these are difficult to eat. Massaging the kale allows the leaves to break down, making them easier to digest.
  • Lime juice: or you can use lemon, this helps to break down the kale.
  • Pomegranate: for juiciness (other small fruits like blueberries or raspberries will also be great).
  • Walnuts: for more crunch, healthy fats and is packed with omega-3s and a source of vitamins E and B6, for example and are great for skin.
  • Hemp seeds: these are little but mighty and are boasting with omega-3 and -6 and may have antioxidant effects too.

Finally, the most delicious dressing:

  • Tahini: I just love anything with tahini and this sesame-seed butter/paste is so delicious. It tastes nutty and savoury and is so easy. For the best dressing, ensure your tahini is runny and smooth.
  • Coconut yoghurt: this adds a cooling, creamy and smooth element to the dressing. I always use the Cocos light or natural yoghurt here as it’s really thick.
  • Lime juice: to match the lime of the tajin and with the kale, this adds zinginess to the dressing but lemon juice will also work.
  • Apple cider vinegar: for tang.
  • Nutritional yeast: this adds a rich umami flavour without the dressing tasting cheesy. I highly recommend it, but the dressing is still delicious without it.
  • Garlic as roasted above: the roasted garlic really takes this dressing to the next level and makes it sticky and sweet without the overpowering fieriness of raw garlic. That said, you can use 1 raw, crushed garlic clove, id needed.
  • Water: to thin and make sure to season the dressing, too, with salt and pepper.

How do I make this?

This is so easy to make:

  • Cook the quinoa: and allow to cool sightly. Or start with leftover quinoa to make this even quick to prepare.
  • Chop up all the vegetables and pat the chickpeas dry: lay out and season then drizzle with olive oil.
  • Roast the veggies, chickpeas and quinoa on two trays: for 25-30 minutes, till crispy and tender.
  • Meanwhile prepare the salad: de-stem and massage the kale and toss with the other ingredients.
  • Make the dressing: stir or whisk together the ingredients till smooth.
  • Plate up the salad by tossing it all together: and drizzling over the dressing.
  • Serve straight away or keep in sealed containers: in the fridge.

Is this nut-free and gluten-free?

This is naturally gluten-free as quinoa does not contain gluten. To make this nut-free, swap the walnuts for pumpkin or sunflower seeds.

How long will this keep?

This will keep for 2-3 days in the fridge in a sealed container, although to keep the quinoa crispy, keep this separate from the other components and you can even crispy them back up in the oven, before serving if you like.

Close up of a bowl of Crispy Quinoa Squash and Kale Salad with Garlic Tahini
Crispy Quinoa Squash and Kale Salad with Garlic Tahini

What other salads and meals can I make?

If you are looking for other meal-worthy salads and bowls, how about my:

A bowl of Crispy Quinoa Squash and Kale Salad with Garlic Tahini with two forks

Crispy Quinoa Squash and Kale Salad with Garlic Tahini

Yield: 2
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

This Crispy Quinoa Squash and Kale Salad with Garlic Tahini is delicious wholesome, nourishing and high-protein meal. Packed with crispy baked quinoa, roasted chickpeas and tons of veg, it is drizzled with garlic tahini for the best meal prep.


For the Quinoa and Vegetables:

  • 70g quinoa, cooked (about 200g when cooked)
  • ½ small butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1 red onion, in small chunks
  • 1 garlic bulb, trimmed
  • 200g chickpeas (drained weight)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • ½ tsp tajin seasoning (or smoked paprika)
  • Salt and pepper

For the Salad:

  • 80g kale, de-stemmed weight
  • 1 tsp lemon or lime juice
  • 40g pomegranate
  • 40g walnuts, crushed
  • 2 tbsp shelled hemp seeds
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley, coriander or mint

For the Dressing:

  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • 1 tbsp coconut yoghurt
  • 2 tbsp lime juice (or juice of 1 lime)
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast, optional
  • 1-2 cloves roasted garlic (as prepare above), or 1 small raw garlic clove
  • 2-3 tbsp water


  1. Cook the quinoa beforehand, if needed. I do this by adding 70g quinoa to a pan with 140ml water, bring to the boil then reduce the heat to low and cook with a lid on for 12 minutes (but please check your packet). Allow to cool slightly.
    Preheat the oven the 160Fan/180ºC and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. For the quinoa: lay the quinoa over one tray and drizzle over 1 tbsp olive oil. Season with salt and toss well. Roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes, tossing around after every 10 minutes.
  3. For the vegetables and chickpeas: pat the chickpeas dry and add to the second tray with the squash and red onion. Drizzle with 1 ½ tbsp olive oil, the tajin seasoning, salt and pepper. Trim the top off the garlic bulb and remove any loose skin. Rub with ½ tbsp olive and a good pinch of salt. Wrap in tin foil and place on the tray. Roast for 25-30 minutes, tossing halfway through, till tender and crispy.
  4. Meanwhile make the salad: roughly chop the kale and add to a large bowl with a pinch of salt and the lemon/lime juice. Massage with your hands for 30 seconds, to wilt the leaves.
  5. For the salad dressing: add all the ingredients to a small bowl. If using roasted garlic, squeeze 1-2 garlic cloves from the roasted bulb, or if using raw garlic, peel and crush this. Add the garlic to the dressing bowl and season well. Stir to a smooth dressing, adding water as needed. Save the rest of the garlic for other meals.
  6. To plate up: divide the kale between two shallow bowls or plates. Top with the crispy quinoa, roasted vegetables and chickpeas, the pomegranate, walnuts, hemp seeds and chopped herbs. Drizzle over the dressing and toss well.
  7. Enjoy straight away or keep in the fridge for 1-2 days in a sealed container. Note that the quinoa will soften over time.

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Stay in touch

I look forward to hearing what you think of this Crispy Quinoa Squash and Kale Salad with Garlic Tahini so please let me know in the comments below. If you do make this salad, I’d love to see so please tag me, I’m @nourishing.amy on Instagram and use the hashtag #nourishingamy. I’m also on TwitterFacebook and Pinterest  – please say hello!

With crispy quinoa kale love x

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