When the weather turns cold, shortly after making my first soup of the season, I’m usually ready to make a casserole. I’ve whipped up many good casseroles with pasta as a main ingredient, but I wanted to try something different this time. I wanted to make something with a definite fall flavor, too, and the results was this savory Butternut Squash and Quinoa Casserole.
This casserole definitely scores big on the healthy front. Quinoa is packed with nutrition, and we add some spinach to further enhance the nutritional value, and adding some nice color. Feta cheese, lower in fat than many cheeses, is used to add some rich flavor. The Butternut Squash and Quinoa Casserole dish gets topped off with some pumpkin seeds for some extra fall flair.
The recipe is substantial enough to be served as a vegetarian main dish, with a green salad to round things out. It also makes a nice side. We had it along with some baked haddock. I suspect it could also work with turkey, perhaps as a change of pace Thanksgiving side dish.
Wine Pairing: This recipe has been in the queue for a few weeks, and I hadn’t kept notes about the wine we paired with this Butternut Squash and Quinoa Casserole. But the photos reminded me that we served it with the delicious 2014 Au Bon Puit Côtes du Rhône, and I’d be remiss not to mention it as it is very good for under $15. This white wine is a blend of Viogner, Roussanne, and Grenache Blanc. The description from Pairings Wine and Food, “Fresh lively bouquet with nice tropical fruit which continues in the mouth,” jives with my recollection of the wine.
- 5 cups butternut squash, peeled and chopped
- 1 cup quinoa, rinsed in cold water until the water runs clear
- 2 cups of water
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 sage leaves, chopped
- 6 ozs chicken broth
- 2 cups baby spinach
- ¾ cup feta cheese
- handful pumpkin seeds
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Boil a pot of water. Add the butternut squash, boil for 15 minutes or so, until the squash is tender.
- Drain the squash, and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
- Heat the water to boiling, stir in the quinoa. Reduce heat to medium low, and simmer covered for 16 to 20 minutes until the water is absorbed.
- As the quinoa cooks, heat the olive oil in a skillet on medium. Add the onion, sauté until it begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cook for another minutes.
- Add the cooked squash to the skillet along with the chicken broth and sage. Bring the broth to a simmer, stir occasionally with a sturdy spoon. As you stir, gradually break up the squash.
- Let the squash simmer for about 10 minutes, and it will gradually break up into a creamy consistency.
- Stir the spinach into the butternut mixture toward the end of its 10 minute cooking time. Remove the squash mixture from heat and cover while the quinoa finishes cooking.
- When the water in the quinoa has been absorbed after the 16 to 20 minute simmer time, remove cover and stir the quinoa with a fork.
- Combine the quinoa with the skillet of butternut squash mixture. Stir in the feta cheese.
- Scoop the butternut squash and quinoa mixture into a casserole dish. Sprinkle the top with pumpkin seeds.
- Cover the casserole dish, and bake for 10 minutes. Remove cover after 10 minutes, and bake uncovered for 5 more minutes. Remove from oven and serve.