Lemony Quinoa with Butternut Squash

by on October 19, 2009
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Lemony Quinoa with Butternut Squash

At the farmers’ market a couple of weeks ago, I picked up two butternut squash that were each about the length of my hand. Since I love roasting butternut with a touch of lemon, I was considering cooking them in that tried and true (but unimaginative) manner when I got the idea to roast one of the squash and mix it in with my favorite grain/seed, quinoa. The results were a light and lemony side dish that goes with practically anything.

I served it with baked tofu, gravy, steamed broccoli, and a salad for a sort of traditional American meal, but the lemony flavor makes a great accompaniment to everything from Thai food to Italian. I’m considering making it a part of my Thanksgiving dinner this year.

Lemony Quinoa with Butternut Squash

Lemony Quinoa with Butternut Squash

(printer-friendly version)

The pine nuts really complement the lemon flavor, but if you decide to leave them out, you can deduct about 30 calories and 3 grams of fat per serving.


  • 10 ounces butternut squash (about 2 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1/4 cup chopped shallots
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons (about 7/10 ounce) lightly toasted pine nuts (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh chives (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Cut the squash in half and scrape out the seeds and strings (using a grapefruit spoon makes this easier). Peel and cut into 1/2-inch cubes and toss with the 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. Place them on a non-stick baking sheet (or silicone mat), sprinkle with a little salt and pepper, and bake for 15 minutes, stirring halfway through.
  2. Place the quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer and rinse it well and allow to drain. Heat a deep, non-stick pot. Add shallots and garlic and cook, stirring, until shallots soften slightly. Add the quinoa and toast it until it has dried out and begins to exude a toasty aroma. Add the squash along with the thyme and vegetable broth. Reduce the heat to low and cover. Cook, stirring once or twice, until all broth is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Stir in the lemon peel and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and add more lemon juice if needed.
  3. Serve with toasted pine nuts and chives sprinkled on top.


Servings: 4 large side-dish servings

Preparation time: 15 minute(s) | Cooking time: 40 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4

Nutrition Facts

Nutrition (per serving): 240 calories, 50 calories from fat, 5.7g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 291.8mg sodium, 576mg potassium, 41.2g carbohydrates, 5.2g fiber, 1.7g sugar, 8.4g protein.

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{ 75 comments… read them below or add one }

1 The Ordinary Vegetarian October 19, 2009 at 11:08 am

I will be trying this one very soon! I have 16 pounds of a variety of squash on my counter right now that I've been on the hunt for new ways to prepare. I'm with you on the lemon, so I can already tell that I'll love this one. I'll report back soon :)


2 Kalyn October 19, 2009 at 11:24 am

Love the sound of this! Just saved it in my "to-try" folder!


3 The Voracious Vegan October 19, 2009 at 12:05 pm

So fresh and gorgeous, that picture just makes me so hungry! I love all the bright amazing flavors in here, this would be such a wonderful dinner.


4 nora October 19, 2009 at 12:05 pm

mmm. lemon and butternut squash are not often combined, but i have a feeling you're onto something!


5 Carol October 19, 2009 at 12:07 pm

This looks amazing!!! I am definitely going to try this soon. Keep the quinoa recipes comin'!


6 jenna October 19, 2009 at 12:19 pm

this looks amazing! love the flavor combos.


7 Shannon October 19, 2009 at 12:20 pm

I am terribly allergic to pine nuts (but no other nuts.) I've never eaten them because of my allergy (except in pesto, which is how I found out), so I'm not sure how they taste. When I make pesto I substitute either almonds or walnuts. Do you think one of those would also work in this recipe, or is there another type of nut you would recommend? Thanks!


8 SusanV October 19, 2009 at 12:23 pm

Shannon, I'm sorry about your pine nut allergy. They have a really unique taste, a touch piney, but are more delicious than that sounds. I think that any other nut would be fine here (they all go well with lemon, right?) I would probably use sliced or slivered almonds, but I'll bet walnuts or cashews would be interesting too.


9 dreaminitvegan October 19, 2009 at 12:50 pm

Lovely dish. It would make a nice Thanksgiving side dish.


10 Jennyjen October 19, 2009 at 1:14 pm

I am going to make this tonight! I love the idea of combining the quinoa with butternut squash and lemon. Superb.


11 Josiane October 19, 2009 at 1:54 pm

Oh, this will make for a nice change from the usual way I prepare quinoa! It sounds delicious!


12 Jess (Fit Chick in the City) October 19, 2009 at 8:31 pm

Thank you for this recipe! I think I have almost all of these ingredients in my kitchen right now. Perhaps I'll try out the recipe this weekend.


13 brett October 19, 2009 at 10:22 pm

Just made this tonight. So good! Thanks for the recipe.


14 Dana October 20, 2009 at 8:55 am

Oooh yummy. I was trying to think of what to do with all my butternut squash besides soup, and this blog post recipe popped up in my email. Serendipity!
BTW, we had your caribbean beans and quinoa for supper last night, and, as always, it was a hit!


15 Jocelyn October 20, 2009 at 10:20 am

This looks DELISH! Right up my alley!


16 Anonymous October 20, 2009 at 2:30 pm


This sounds fabulous. I'd really like to try it. The challenge for me with my hand issues is peeling the squash. . .but I will see what I can do about that. Hopefully there will be a day that will work. I think this would be an amazing side dish for Thanksgiving, and I love the idea of cooking squash with lemon.




17 Peg October 15, 2013 at 12:47 pm

Hi, moonwatcher. You don’t have to peel it! Simply poke it on top and upper sides with a carving fork, set it on a cookie sheet, bake til you can pierce it through. Cut off both ends, slice in half and cut into pieces. Did it just this evening for a similar dish – using brown rice instead of quinoa. I’d put off using the squash for the same reason — this works! Give it a try!


18 DeAnna October 20, 2009 at 3:10 pm

This sounds delicious! This is my first time commenting, but I have been coming to your site for a couple months now and I have to say THANK YOU for all these great recipes. It has really helped me change to a vegetarian diet (mostly vegan, but I do have honey in tea.) My husband is not (nor will he ever be) a vegetarian and I don't totally make my girls be vegetarian/vegan, but since I am the one that cooks… when eating at home, we all eat vegetarian/vegan dishes. And other than my 5 y.o. daughter not liking tempeh, they have been enjoying it and not complaining. I think having great recipes like you give us has really helped to make this transition enjoyable for them as well. Thanks so much!! Can't wait to try this one, just got butternut squash the other day and was looking for something different to use it for.


19 Elaine October 20, 2009 at 8:09 pm

Very yummy even without the pine nuts.


20 americanvegan October 20, 2009 at 10:09 pm

ooooh I love your blog!! Great post, too- I love the idea of the lemony quinoa, which is definitely one of my faves too. I cannot wait to try this!


21 Anika October 21, 2009 at 10:14 am

Sounds and looks delicious, I'll try this soon, it will be perfect for my diet with no fat, easy to prepare. Squash and lemon, Hmmm, delicious and nutritious.


22 Nikki October 21, 2009 at 1:28 pm

Susan – again a wonderful recipe. I just tried this (sans pine nuts, not in a college studnet budget) last night and now I can't wait to make it for Thanksgiving. Thanks so much for another good quinoa recipe.


23 Mia from Canada October 21, 2009 at 11:32 pm

I made this tonight with almonds. It was just fabulous!!!


24 Mary October 22, 2009 at 7:45 am

That sounds good! Im on the lookout for Thanksgiving recipes. I'll give it a try!


25 Smita Srivastava October 22, 2009 at 11:41 pm

Hi , First time here . Must appreciate the lovely recipes…. I just love the cactus shaped bread – truly amazing !!!!!

I have a food art blog http://littlefoodjunction.blogspot.com/
do sneak a peek when time permits …


26 Christian October 23, 2009 at 3:20 pm

Hi! Thanks for this I will try this today.


27 Anonymous October 24, 2009 at 11:23 am

Yummy Yummy dish. On the list for Thanksgiving. Thank you!


28 Rebecca Leffler October 25, 2009 at 11:17 am

This looks delicious ! I just came back from the Paris organic market with a huge butternut squash so this will be perfect, merci beaucoup! (and great timing !)
If you have any other good butternut recipes, would be very welcome too…
Love your recipes/blog, keep it up!



29 Paula Lobos October 25, 2009 at 3:57 pm

What a great blog!
Everything looks delish!! Best, Paula


30 Mandee October 25, 2009 at 8:43 pm

This looks like a delicious dish, I'm craving pine nuts now!


31 Leah Greenblum October 26, 2009 at 10:45 pm

I just made this and *loved* it. Things I changed: I added minced garlic to the squash while it roasted, and topped it with both scallion and parmesan (nutritional yeast would also be yummy).


32 Claire October 28, 2009 at 4:05 pm

Thanks so much for sharing this recipe. It is absolutely amazing!


33 Rachel Lee October 29, 2009 at 8:25 pm

This looks awesome! I am experimenting with quinoa and this will help. You might like this blog I wrote about Fair Trade Certified Bolivian quinoa: http://bit.ly/hT98m. Cheers! Rachel Lee Holstein


34 emily oi! October 30, 2009 at 3:31 pm

Looks great! I will definitely consider this when assembling gluten-free thanksgiving.

A note to moonwatcher: if your squash is organic (ie, not waxed) the skin is totally edible. it has a little chewier texture, but it's quite nutritious. Otherwise you can microwave the squash for a few minutes to soften it and make it easier to peel.


35 Rachel October 31, 2009 at 2:03 pm

This recipe was amazing! My son loves quinoa, so it's nice to have new recipes to try. Thanks for posting it :)


36 hannerchic November 3, 2009 at 9:46 pm

I've been cooking and eating vegan since August, and I have really opened so many more doors than I've closed. I can't imagine I would have ever sought out a recipe like this before, and even when I read it the first time I thought "Really? That sounds kind of gross." But, my curiosity got the best of me. I bought a squash and tried it out, and much to my delight, it turned out delicious. Thanks for the recipe; I'll be back for sure:)


37 GiovannaCoraggio November 8, 2009 at 2:32 pm

Oh my gosh this looks amazing! I need to use my butternut squash too!


38 Haylee November 9, 2009 at 12:42 am

yum, that looks delicious!
Your pictures are all so gorgeous. I love them!


39 Rebecca Leffler November 11, 2009 at 10:29 am

I was wondering if you serve this cold, as more of a salad? I was thinking of bringing it to-go on a flight, do you think it will hold up ? I know quinoa salads are great for travel, but will roasted butternut squash still be good hours later ? Thanks !
R, from Paris


40 Mariko November 14, 2009 at 4:34 pm

I am definitely going to buy some quinoa today. This looks delicious!


41 CherylK November 16, 2009 at 7:18 pm

I'm going to make this for my daughter who is vegetarian but I have discovered that eating this way is just as delicious or more so than eating traditional "meat & potatoes". In fact, I've observed that I actually feel so much better when I eat the way my daughter eats.


42 Erin November 22, 2009 at 11:53 pm

Hi Susan. This looks wonderful. Before I make it though, is the 1 cup of quinoa dry or cooked? Thanks!


43 SusanV November 23, 2009 at 8:55 am

Erin, the quinoa is uncooked when you measure it. I hope you enjoy the recipe!


44 Anonymous November 29, 2009 at 10:28 pm

I'm a non-cook who has been a vegan for about a year and a half. I made this with my leftover squash, and it was so tasty. I also made your green bean casserole this weekend. I think you're a genius. Thanks for teaching me how to cook.


45 Saray November 30, 2009 at 11:37 am

This is going straight to my recipe book :) It looks delicious!! Now the tricky part will be to find quinoa in a supermarket here in Spain… but I relish a challenge :)
I´ll keep checking your blog, you are a fab cook.
Greetings from Paradise aka the Canary Islands.


46 Liz - Meal Makeover Mom December 5, 2009 at 2:10 pm

I just made the recipe and it was very yummy. However, after 20 minutes most of the liquid had not yet been absorbed. Curious why you call for 2.5 cups of liquid when the recipe on the back of the Eden quinoa bag suggests 1 1/4 cups per 1 cup quinoa. Any suggestions for what I did wrong?


47 SusanV December 5, 2009 at 2:20 pm

Hi Liz–I used a little extra broth in order to keep the squash hydrated while the quinoa is cooking. When I made it, the squash absorbed some of the water, but I guess yours needed less. I may also have had mine at a higher temperature (my stove runs hot) and more may have evaporated in 20 minutes. I hope the dish was worth any added time you had to spend on it!


48 Liz - Meal Makeover Mom December 7, 2009 at 7:38 am

Hi Susan: I'm going to make it again today with a little less broth. The great news is that my 11-year old really liked it! The flavors are amazing — I really love the lemon zest and the thyme coupled with the squash. BTW, your recipe was recommended to me by one of my Facebook Fans!


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50 The Lone Vegan December 16, 2009 at 7:13 pm

I made this tonight and it was my first attempt every with quiona. Can't say it went perfectly. :<

I love the other ingredients separately, so I'll have to do some experimenting with the quiona to see where I'm messing it up.

Thanks for all of the wonderful recipes.


51 Anonymous December 18, 2009 at 8:00 am

Made it last night for friends from New Orleans. It is delicious and a big hit.


52 Carla December 26, 2009 at 10:07 am

What a great recipe!! We just made it for Christmas Dinner. Lots of taste and easy to make!
Thanks, it's a keeper!


53 Allie January 2, 2010 at 2:17 am

This looks fantastic! I recently made a butternut squash risotto that I can't get enough of, and quinoa sounds even better. The pine nuts also sound like a perfect complement to the quinoa…I'm going to have to go back to the store for more squash!


54 Anonymous January 30, 2010 at 10:09 am

Loved it, and looks fabulous


55 Marie February 5, 2010 at 6:21 am

Tried this last night…TERRIFIC!!! It was easy to put together and the lemon really set it off! My husband ate it and liked it…(he couldn't care less about healthy eating) Thanks for your blog!


56 Laina March 2, 2010 at 1:26 am

This is my first time using butternut squash. I absolutely loved this recipe.

I loved the lemon flavor and the toasted pine nuts were a great addition to the overall dish.

This will be a common meal from now on. One of my favorites. The only thing I did differently was to steam some broccoli and mixed it in.

Thanks, Susan!


57 April April 29, 2010 at 6:41 pm

This looks delicious! I love quinoa and will certainly add this to my must-make list. Thanks!


58 Erina July 16, 2010 at 2:10 pm

Granted the feta isn’t vegan…but you could skip it and this would still be very yummy! Perhaps replace it with olives or tofu.

Quinoa with Feta, Tomatoes, and Basil, tossed with a lemon vinaigrette http://wp.me/puWta-4X


59 Torwen August 24, 2010 at 3:49 pm

Thanks for this lovely recipe. I loved the (really really) lemony taste!
I cooked it this evening but only took a mobile cam pic because I had to devour it immediately. This was soooo good!


60 Brie November 3, 2010 at 8:59 pm

Wow! This recipe was SO delicious, and simple too! I didn’t have a fresh lemon, so no lemon peel, but I added a little lemon pepper with the lemon juice, and that seemed to do the trick. I’m not a vegan, but I will be coming back to your site to try other tasty recipes! Thank you!


61 Katya November 19, 2010 at 9:00 am

Oh, this was MOST Delicious! I used red quinoa- which made the dish even more colorful, and waited to add squash until quinoa was cooked. This was easily the BEST quinoa dish EVER! Thank you so much for this recipe and for many other you so generously share here!


62 Red February 8, 2011 at 1:20 pm

I made this for My Love and I tonight for dinner. I didn’t add the pine nuts but I don’t think it lacked in taste for it. We absolutely loved this recipe and we intend to have it many times..and in the summer we thought having it cold as part of a picnic might be nice.


63 Kellie February 21, 2011 at 11:17 am

This recipe is amazing! The lemony quinoa is fantastic—I love it really, really lemony. Also before I was always making butternut, acorn, etc. by cutting it in half and baking it. It turns out much less flavorful that way. The method of cubing it and squeezing pepper and lemon over it makes it outstanding!
Thanks so much for all of these awesome recipes.


64 Mark O'Leary September 13, 2011 at 11:53 am

I made this last week. It was easy, and it was a home run. My wife (who tolerates my vegan eating and is normally less than enthusiastic about these sorts of dishes) thought it was one of the best we’ve ever had. Note: We served it with tamari-baked tofu and mushroom gravy. This made quite a robust meal. Highly recommended.


65 Mandy September 28, 2011 at 6:55 pm

I made this today and it’s absolutely delicious. I added some fresh basil (b/c the plant sits on my counter), but didn’t have pine nuts on hand. The flavors balance perfectly and this will definitely be a go-to recipe when I have squash in the kitchen. Thank you!


66 Emily Soleil October 24, 2011 at 3:29 pm

This recipe is delicious. I’ve made it twice now, first time, following your recipe exactly. This time, I upped the thyme to 1.5 tsp and added a few shakes of Mrs. Dash at the same time. I also didn’t have any fresh lemon on hand, so I used lemon juice, but added zest of orange instead. Oh, and I just realized that I only used 2 cups broth this time instead of 2.5 and it still turned out amazing.


67 Jessica November 24, 2011 at 10:47 am

Just made this for Thanksgiving. It didn’t work for me. I think it’s the lemon – the whole thing just tastes sour. Oh well.


68 KT November 27, 2011 at 8:42 pm

This looks great. I am having a couple friends over for dinner tomorrow night and I think I will make this. What else could I make that would go well with this? Thanks!


69 Paula March 8, 2012 at 5:55 pm

I mistakenly bought butternut squash instead of spaghetti squash for another recipe. So I made this instead in a simplified version (things must be super easy for me to attempt them) of whatever I had in the house … onions instead of shallots, whole baked squash, pre-made quinoa, and just the garlic, lemon, thyme, and a little salt & pepper.

It’s yum! I never would have thought of adding garlic and/or thyme to squash, plus the lemon. So good! And healthy. Thank you Susan!


70 Lindsey August 14, 2012 at 12:44 pm

Just ate this for lunch – so delicious light and filling. Great recipe!


71 Angela W. October 28, 2012 at 7:25 pm

Fabulous recipe! Just made it tonight. Love the lemony flavor…but it isn’t overpowering at all. We visited a local farm last week and purchased MANY different kinds of squashes, gourds and pumpkins. So glad I found this recipe.


72 KBeane October 31, 2012 at 4:07 pm

I made this last night with some baked tofu and it was really delicious. As you mentioned, it would work well as a Thanksgiving side as well.


73 Kim @ She Wines Sometimes August 1, 2013 at 6:13 pm

Oh my goodness… this recipe is amazing! I had some leftover butternut squash and was looking for a way to incorporate quinoa to make an entree and landed on your blog. I cannot wait to eat the leftovers tomorrow and make this again (for a crowd!) in the future. Thanks for sharing! :)


74 Sheena October 15, 2013 at 12:03 pm

I made this yesterday for a vegetarian thanksgiving potluck. I was looking for a last minute recipe and I stumbled across this on fb, I had all the ingredients so I decided to give it a try. I made double the recipe. During the cooking stage, there was so much liquid I had to take the cover off after 30 min in hopes that it would evaporate. It eventually did but all the roasted veggies and quinoa turned into a big mash. I added some extra toasted almonds at the end to try and salvage some texture and my friends still liked it but I would recommend using way less liquid than 2.5 c to 1 c quinoa.


75 Tori November 9, 2013 at 5:05 pm

I was out of quinoa so I substituted a very nice gluten free wild rice which I par cooked before adding it into the large pot with all other ingredients. This was a smash and we all loved it. I served it on a bed of wilted romaine (fresh from my organic garden) topped with toasted organic raw pumpkin seeds as I am a vegan and this is a main dish for me. Yumm!
I plan on trying with the quinoa next week. Thanks for this delicious way to utilize healthy squash!


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