Quinoa with Butternut Squash and Pumpkin Seeds

By • February 28, 2010 19 Comments

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Author Notes: A restaurant experience of bland-looking quinoa challenged me to try to come up with something more appealing. The rinsing step gets rid of the bitter taste from the seed coating and the steaming (resting) at the end of cooking makes it fluffy. You could roast the squash separately or cook it in the pot, both are good. The roasted squash has great flavor, but for ease of preparation, the 'squash in the pot' wins. - SallySally

Food52 Review: For a very clean and healthy dish with butternut squash, you should make this recipe. If you have never made quinoa before, Sally provides great instructions. I would cook the squash in the same pot, as Sally suggests, not just to save on pan washing, but also to infuse the squash flavor directly to the quinoa. I think the stock is a very important part of making this dish, so I would be leery of using plain water. I used black quinoa for my test, thinking that it would be more dramatic in color with the orange squash; I think Sally's red quinoa is more beautiful though! I love the addition of cranberry and the finish of baby spinach and toasted pumpkin seeds adds a great contrast of textures. Thanks, Sally, for this recipe. – SagegreenThe Editors

Serves 4 as veggie meal

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion, finely diced
  • 3/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 2-pound butternut squash, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 1 3/4 cups water or vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 2 large handfuls baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  1. Put the quinoa in a bowl and cover it with cool water. Rub it between your hands and pour off most of the water. Add fresh water and repeat two or three times, until the water runs clear. Drain thoroughly in a fine-meshed strainer. Set the strainer over a bowl until you are ready to cook the quinoa.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large (4 to 5-quart) pot. Add the onion and cook over medium heat for about 3 minutes, until it begins to soften. Stir in the chili powder and the squash and cook, stirring every so often, for 3 more minutes. Add the drained quinoa, water or stock and salt. Bring the liquid to a boil, adjust the heat to a simmer, and cook, covered, for 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, set a small plate next to the stove. Pour a few drops (about 1/2 teaspoon) of olive oil into a small skillet. Heat the oil over medium heat and add the pumpkin seeds. Stir and shake the pan until the pumpkin seeds turn from green to olive to slightly golden brown. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and immediately scrape them onto the awaiting plate.
  4. Remove the pot from the heat and add the spinach and cranberries. Cover the pot and let rest in a warm place for 10 minutes. Mix and fluff up the grains with a fork. Serve sprinkled with toasted pumpkin seeds.

More Great Recipes: Side Dishes|Rice & Grains|Vegetables|Entrees|Quinoa

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Comments (19) Questions (1)


almost 2 years ago renee789

I made this for dinner tonight, and love it! I was out of spinach, so used kale. I also replaced the cranberries with a little andouille sausage. Delicious! Thank you!


over 3 years ago lynn7555

Tried this recipe today with fresh parsnips instead of the squash, delish! Cooked mine for about 20 mins since after 15 the quinoa was still a little firm for my taste.


about 4 years ago SqueakyChu

This was a wonderful recipe. My husband liked it so much that he didn't even complain about my putting dried cranberries in it. I didn't have spinach this time, but I'll be sure to use spinach next time I make this dish.


about 4 years ago CarolS

this looks good! cant wait to try it! any idea where to get nutrition info? im protein/carb/fiber ratio conscious. fat too, but as long as im using a good fat im not as worried about the fat grams. thanks


over 4 years ago candicecanandwill

Just a heads up to anyone who wants to try with brown quinoa-- mine as a bit brothy so 1.5 cups liquid would work well. Maybe water absorbs more effectively into quinoa than thicker veggie broth.

Also, I dropped the cranberries [OD'd a few months back] and added chopped mint. Really bright and still delicious this way!

Excellent vegan dish (:

Thanks, Sally!


over 4 years ago Paulskiogorki

Delish. I'll definitely be making this again.


over 4 years ago spaetzlegirl

great dish, and simply gorgeous on the plate with all those colors. i liked it even more the next day as a cold 'salad'.


almost 5 years ago thebreukelenlife

This was delicious! My friend was worried that it looked too healthy to be delicious but was willing to give it a try! She is now a believer and so am I! The contrast of colors, flavors and textures was incredible. This is def. a make again dish.


over 4 years ago Sally

Emily, thanks! I am going to have to make this again--it is sometimes hard to sell a new "healthy" grain to cynical family members!


almost 5 years ago MplsCitified

Congrats on the EP! A truly delicious recipe.


almost 5 years ago Sally

Thanks so much, I'm happy you are enjoying it


almost 5 years ago Sally

I had sort of forgotten about this until the contest and made it again today to take to a friend's. I used red quinoa this time and it was a little watery--so not sure if there is a difference with the red vs. brown variety. I changed the amount of water to 1 3/4 cups (from 2) as an adjustment to the soaking water. That should fix it.


almost 5 years ago Sagegreen

Thanks, Sally. I enjoyed making your recipe and used black quinoa. Your photos are really beautiful. My photo did not turn out anywhere near as well, so I won't upload it!


almost 5 years ago cheese1227

Great recipe. Nutty and sweet.


almost 5 years ago TheWimpyVegetarian

This looks really great! I've saved it to make very soon!!


almost 5 years ago MplsCitified

Just made this for dinner. It is indeed delicious. The sweetness of the cranberries and the nuttiness of the pumpkin seeds are perfect complements to the squash and quinoa. Strong work, Sally.


almost 5 years ago MplsCitified

This looks delicious. What a great way to use quinoa. Beautiful photograph, too.


over 5 years ago katstreet

Since going gluten-free, have experimented with quinoa, but couldn't get over the bland taste. Thankfully this recipe offered the healthy quinoa with flavor!!! Was perfect as a main dish, but also served it up as leftovers with roasted chicken.

Made some adjustments though. Since I live in Sweden, unfortunately, butternut squash isn't so plentiful here. So I substituted sweet potato instead, and I have to admit, the sweet potato with the chili flavoring was quite a nice, unexpected contrast.

Great mish-mosh of vegetables and spice! Tack!


almost 5 years ago Sally

Thank you all for your comments, I am so glad to hear you tried it! I think it is challenging to make quinoa taste good if you are not used to it, but it is a really good gluten free alternative.