kabocha squash is the highlight of fall. it’s hands down the best in the squash family, and it’s so easy to prepare.
i’ve also been LOVING thick coconut yogurt lately. for awhile, i liked the thinner, runnier variety for breakfast, but similar to coconut milk, full-fat is really where it’s at. i use coconut yogurt with a bit of salsa and spices to create an amazing tomato-y ranch-y goodness that really highlights the deeper flavors of fall with a zingy, creamy twist. this salad is so easy because the ingredients can be prepared in bulk and then pulled out when assembling in this dish or other meals. the beans, quinoa, and even the kabocha squash are very meal prep-friendly for those of us on-the-go!
and i just HAD to use the last few weeks of cotton candy grape season to throw a little sweet fruit touch in. these work so well with the sour dressing and the savory beans. if you don’t have access to cotton candy grapes, green grapes will also do. to finally top off this salad, i used trader joe’s chili lime seasoning, which is basically the same as tajin. as this salad has a lot of simple ingredients with classic flavors on their own, a kick of spicy seasoning really adds the final punch to rounding this dish out.
autumn kabocha squash + coconut salsa ranch salad Ingredients (serves 2)
2 heads romaine, chopped
2 cups baby kale
1 C kidney beans
1 C quinoa
1 kabocha squash cubes
2 handfuls cotton candy grapes, halved (or regular green seedless grapes)
spicy seasoning (i love trader joe’s chili lime seasoning)
COCONUT SALSA RANCH DRESSING
3 T creamy full-fat coconut yogurt (i love this brand in original from whole foods)
2 T salsa (i used trader joe’s bloody mary salsa
1 t lime juice
1/2 t dill, fresh or dried
pinch of black pepper
salt, to taste
prepare your beans and quinoa, if not already done. i recommend soaking legumes and grains overnight for optimal cooking and digestion.
chop a slice out of your kabocha squash and cut into about 1 cup of bite-sized cubes. steam for 2-3 minutes, or until just beginning to get tender. then roast for either 20 minutes at 400F in an oven or cook for 10 minutes at 350F in an air-fryer (that is what i did). flip halfway for both.
for the dressing, mix together all of your ingredients until well-combined. i didn’t add any water to thin because i wanted a big dollop of dressing, but if you would like to mix your ranch throughout, i recommend adding a bit of water to make it easier to spread through the entire salad.
assemble your greens for each serving with a big handful of both romaine and baby kale. for each plate, top with 1/2 C of quinoa, 1/2 C of red kidney beans, and equal servings of the cooked kabocha squash. top with a handful of halved cotton candy grapes and a sprinkle of sunflower seeds. for the finishing touch, add black pepper and spicy seasoning of your choice.