Saturday, March 17, 2012

Chicken, Quinoa & Butternut Squash Stew

A flavorful, delicious meal that comes together quickly, and is also gluten free. The butternut squash was a nice touch and didn't add too much sweetness to this one dish meal.

I found this recipe on another food blog called Cookin' Canuck, and I immediately saw how yummy and easy this would be.  I mostly followed the recipe, but felt it could be even better with a little lemon zest and some capers.  Either way,  this is so good.

A couple of notes:
Don't rush the stew at the end when you add the quinoa.  I served mine about 20 minutes after I added the quinoa, but the stew looked much thicker after it sat for another half hour and the grains continued to expand.  I had the leftovers a couple more times for lunches and it was so great; thick and satisfying.

I also think this would be an even quicker dinner if you used cooked, shredded chicken instead of cooking the chicken thighs yourself. 

Serves about 6

    1 1/2 lb. butternut squash, peeled, seeded & chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
    3 1/2 cups chicken broth, or water
    1 1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
    1 tbsp olive oil
    1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
    1 bell pepper (red, orange or yellow) chopped
    4 cloves garlic, minced
    1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
    1 can (14 oz) petite diced tomatoes
    2/3 cup uncooked quinoa
    3/4 cup pitted and quartered kalamata olives
    1-2 Tbsp  capers, drained (optional)
    1 tsp lemon zest (optional)
    Salt and Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
    1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley

Steam the butternut squash until barely tender, about 10 minutes, or microwave, covered in a bowl covered with plastic wrap for about the same amount of time. Remove half of the squash pieces and set aside.   Steam the remaining squash until very tender, an additional 4 to 6 minutes. Mash this squash with the back of a fork. Set aside.
Cut the chicken thighs into bite size chunks.  They do tend to shrink when cooked, so cutting each thigh into 6 pieces probably works great for bite size.  Working in batches, brown over medium high heat in a little olive oil, about 2-3 minutes per side.  Set aside on a plate.

In the same pan, add onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is starting to turn brown, 8 to 10 minutes.    Add minced garlic and oregano. Cook, stirring, for 1 additional minute.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, add tomatoes, water (or stock)  butternut squash pieces and mashed butternut squash. Stir to combine. Add the chicken pieces (and any accumulated juices), the dry quinoa and the onion mixture. Bring to a simmer about 15-20 minutes, or until the quinoa is fully cooked.

Add the olives, lemon zest and capers into the stew and simmer, uncovered, to heat, about 5 minutes. Stir in parsley and serve.


  1. Piper,

    I loved this recipe.

    I didn't have everything on hand so I cooked it with vegetable broth, one pound chicken breast and 2 cups of dice basil polenta (had to use it up). I used the capers but had no olives to add. I used a tablespoon of curry to spice it up. It turned out so good. One other thing if you have a rice cooker cook the Quinoa separate (cooks just like white rice) and add to the squash mixture at the end.

    Thanks for the great recipe!

  2. Mike,
    I like the way you think! Basil polenta sounds great.