Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Butternut Squash, Chicken and Quinoa Stew

Several years ago, on the island of potlucks, a mysterious grain was showing up dish after dish. Kwin-o-ah? That is what I read on a little sign by a mixture of summer veggies and this mystery grain. Later, I discovered that it is called "keen-wah", the super food!

Quinoa originates from the Andes. It was highly revered by the Incas and called chisaya mama or 'mother of all grains'. While it may look like a cereal grain, it is actually more closely related to beets, spinach and tumbleweeds. This grain packs a powerful dietary punch.

Raw quinoa
Quinoa was of great nutritional importance in pre-Columbian Andean civilizations, secondary only to the potato, and was followed in importance by maize. In contemporary times, this crop has become highly appreciated for its nutritional value, as its protein content is very high (18%). Unlike wheat or rice (which are low in lysine), and like oats, quinoa contains a balanced set of essential amino acids for humans, making it a complete protein source. It is a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron. Quinoa is gluten-free and considered easy to digest. (Source: Wikipedia)

Beware. Since my family loves this grain, many recipes will be coming your way in the coming weeks.
Quinoa squiggles
As I was perusing Pinterest, I found this pin which led me to this recipe on Cookin' Canuck, which is an absolutely wonderful site!! Of course, I like to cook with what I have on hand and I always have to make A LOT to include lunches, etc. So here is my version of Cookin' Canuck's Hearty Chicken Stew with Butternut Squash and Quinoa there are more servings and different methodologies of getting to the end product. This recipe is great for cold nights and it is high protein, low fat and low calorie. If you are veggie, it could easily be converted by using vegetable stock and skip the chicken.

One key reminder about cooking with quinoa, remember to rinse it. If you don't, it will be bitter tasting since the plant has saponin which is beneficial pre-harvest to keep birds and other potential diners away from the seed, but not desirable to our palates. A simple rinsing will remove it. Most North American quinoa on the market has already been rinsed, but I don't take any chances. 

Butternut Squash, Chicken and Quinoa Stew Recipe


  • 4 cups organic chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 large, organic boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 4 cups  butternut squash, fresh or frozen
  • 2 cans (14 oz) organic diced tomatoes (Eden Hills or Muir Glen to be BPA free)
  • 2/3 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 3 oz can  black olives, sliced
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Grated Asiago (optional)


1) In a large saucepan, pour in 4 cups of stock and place chicken breasts in to poach. Bring to a boil and then cook over medium heat for 10 minutes. Remove chicken breasts to a plate to cool and put stock aside for later in the recipe. (You can skip this step if you are cooking the veggie version.)

2) In a large Dutch Oven, pour in olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add oregano and stir for a minute. 

3) Add in garlic salt, butternut squash, tomatoes and stock from saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil and add quinoa and olives. Gently stir. Cover and reduce heat to low for 15 minutes. 

4) Shred or cube chicken and add to the Dutch Oven along with pepper and parsley. Cook for 10 more minutes. Stir frequently. 

5) Ladle into bowls while hot and top with grated asiago. Enjoy!

*Note: if you are going to warm it up later, add more stock during the warm up. The quinoa will absorb most of the liquid.

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  1. I would love to try this without the chicken, it looks wonderful!
    I love quinoa and eat it several times a week. It's really yummy for breakfast too.

    1. Now quinoa for breakfast is not something I have tried. How do you prepare it?

  2. Never had that before. It looks delicious:)

    1. It really IS yummy...if I may say so myself. :)

  3. I will have to try this out. We've never cooked squash like that before (ok, i've never cooked butternut squash at all. i'm more of a zucchini or summer squash gal.) And quinoa? My hubs has been asking (I've been ignoring because I don't know anything about it!) I will be back to check out the new recipes you'll be posting.

    Stopping in from VB - hope it is a great day!

    1. Welcome Kristie. I am following your site now as well. Let me know if you try out this recipe. I will aim to keep healthy and creative recipes coming your way!

  4. I LOVE butternut pumpkin! I will be trying this! (I have never actually eaten quinoa before)

    1. Let me know if you try it. It is a pretty versatile grain.

  5. I'm going to make this soon (especially since you think it will freeze ok:) because I'm also going to purchase a large bag of quinoa:) It looks yummy! (And would be a fantastic recipe to pass onto my friends)
    Thanks for sharing,

    1. Thanks Kristina! By the way, my son was commenting that he wanted dinosaur sandwiches and fruit pizza...where DID he get that inspiration?!? <3

  6. Now I finally know how to pronounce it lol! I've heard of it, but never had it before. This recipe looks really good and I love to make soups. I may have to give this a try and let you know how my family reacts lol!

    1. Please let me know how it goes!! Funny, I mispronounced it forever. Learning.

  7. This looks very good. Being from Peru myself, I didn't know that quinoa originated there (or in that area)... I'll have to ask my aunt about it. For all I know I've probably eaten it and have recipes and didn't know it. Funny story.. I found out from a friend of mine that in Peru they love to eat guinea pig.. I said WHAT?! So I immediately ran to my aunt... Please say it isn't so tia (aunt in Spanish, just in case)Luckily she does NOT like it and never cooked it for us. I was so happy!! to have learned I never ate the little creature. Looking forward to making your recipe!! Blessings.

    1. I traveled in Peru several years ago and was afraid I would have to try guinea pig. That didn't happen, but I DID try paca which tasted just like pork. (We also tried caiman, grubs and ants!)

  8. YUM YUM YUM! I will have to try this. Can you make it in the slow cooker? I do so much better in the slow cooker.

    1. I haven't tried quinoa in a slowcooker yet. Please let me know how it turns out if you try!

  9. Looks heavenly! What a beautiful soup!
    What you recommend as a sub for chicken (I don't eat meat)? I imagine it would be good just everything else.


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