Mildly Spicy Butternut Squash Quinoa

19 September 2016

Written by Jennie Bayliss


This is an adaptation of a recipe by Deliciously Ella which is, by the way, delicious. By switching from (regular) potatoes in Ella’s recipe, to butternut squash, sweet potatoes and carrots, it helps reduces the calorie and carbohydrate content whilst increasing the level of fibre.


Makes 6 generous portions

  • 300g butternut squash – peeled, deseeded and cubed
  • 200g carrots – peeled and slice thickly
  • 200g sweet potato – peeled and cubed
  • 2 garlic cloves very finely diced or crushed
  • 3 tsp of ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp of coriander seeds (or ground coriander)
  • ½ red chilli very finely chopped or 1 tsp of chilli flakes
  • 5g of fresh ginger finely chopped or 1 tsp of ground ginger
  • 400g tin of coconut milk (critic acid is OK: avoid those with thickeners and stabilisers)
  • 1 tbsp sundried tomato paste (I use Zest or Gia)
  • 400g tin of chopped tomatoes (check no added sugar)
  • 180g of quinoa (dry)
  • 250g of cooked chickpeas or 1 tin drained. See note below*
  • 150g spinach



Half-fill a large saucepan with water. Bring water to the boil. Drop in the butternut squash, sweet potato cubes and sliced carrots. Bring the pan back to the boil. Turn down the heat just slightly, and continue to boil for 5 minutes until the vegetables are slightly soft. Drain away the water, then to the pan, add all of the ingredients except for the spinach. Add an additional 300 ml of water too and stir well.
Place the saucepan back on to the hob and bring it to the boil. Now turn the heat right down, so the vegetable/quinoa mixture simmers gently. It needs to cook for 30 minutes and it will need stirring every 5 minutes or so, otherwise the quinoa is likely to stick to the bottom of the pan. As it cooks, the quinoa will swell, mopping up all of the liquid. After 30 minutes, stir in the spinach allowing it to wilt—1-2 minutes. Now this dish is ready. Serve it with a portion of green vegetables such as sugar snaps, green beans or broccoli.
This dish freezes well.
* Chickpeas
I much prefer to cook my chickpeas from dried. Vegetables and legumes in tins have been pressure-cooked and so very often have preservatives or colours added, so find those that are additive free. I find tinned chickpeas very soft and I dislike the gloopy liquid that has come from cooking them at pressure. If you want to cook chickpeas from dried, you will need 120g dried chickpeas to make approx 250g cooked. This is how I cook all of my dried beans, pulses and legumes: I soak them overnight, then next morning, before preparing breakfast, I rinse them, place them in fresh water and bring to the boil. As it comes to the boil, a scum will appear: scoop it away and refresh the water. Add a scant quarter-teaspoon rock salt, now bring back to boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 25 minutes. Now I can prepare breakfast whilst they cook. When 25 minutes is up, check the chickpeas. They should be firm, but not bullet-like. Dried produce will vary in it’s cooking time dependant on the season they grew and how old they are. If necessary, cook for a further 5-10 minutes. When cooked to your preference, drain and they are ready to add to dishes like this one or to be sprinkled on salads. I usually cook a large batch and freeze those I don’t immediately need.
Aren’t tinned (preservative-free) chickpeas just as good? Not in my opinion, no. But what I’d love for you to do is to experiment: cook some from dried and now do a taste comparison with the tinned ones? Notice the differences in taste and texture. Which do you prefer?

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