Spiced Quinoa with Butternut Squash

Holiday Side Dishes: Spiced Quinoa with Butternut Squash

Posted on 11/27/2013

Quinoa is an ancient grain that is indigenous to South America and has become very popular because of its fast cooking time and complete protein profile. It contains all the amino acids including lysine and is gluten free.  Although it is often marketed as pre-rinsed it is advisable to rinse it if purchasing in bulk. This is because the plant produces a natural defense of Saponis that protect it as it grows but can leave a slightly bitter taste unless it is rinsed. Pour your quinoa into a fine mess strainer and submerge it into a mixing bowl of filtered water.  Mix it with you’re fingers and remove and drain.  Quite often good chefs will toast grains to build flavor and it just takes 3-4 minutes in a dry pan.  Fully cooked quinoa makes a wonderful salad and there are numerous choices that you can use to create a flavorful experience. Another effective technique in producing a batch of quinoa is to use vegetable stock instead of water. This also enhances the nutritional content.

Save your vegetable scraps so you can make your own vegetable stock.  The basic veggies in most stocks include:

  •  1 sliced onion
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 2 carrots
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 12 black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf

You can use almost all of your other vegetable scraps with the exception of cruciferous veggies such as cauliflower or broccoli.

Place ingredients in a stockpot and cover with water. Bring to a boil then turn down to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Let cool and strain.

Rinse 2 cups quinoa in a strainer then drain and hold.


  • 1 cup of onion
  • 1 cup of butternut squash
  • 1 cup of carrot

In a saucepan heat 1 T. of olive oil and start a sauté of diced onions, butternut squash and carrots. Cook for two minutes then add:

  • 1 tsp. curry
  • 6 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 T. diced ginger
  • Toasted Pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • ¼ tsp. good salt

Add your two cups of quinoa along with 1.75 cups of vegetable stock. Bring to a boil and turn heat down to a simmer add a touch of saffron and cover. Cook for around 15-20 minutes.

The low down on salt

Most commercial salt is blasted at 4000 degrees but if you look at a batch of good salt it often has an assortment of colors. These are actually trace minerals which you body needs.

Useful Equipment

  • Small stockpot
  • Mixing bowl
  • Wooden spoon
  • Fine mesh strainer
  • Mixing bowl
  • Whisk
  • Spatula
  • Cutting boards