Butternut squash quinoa casserole is full of vegetables and makes a delicious vegetarian, gluten-free, and vegan friendly casserole for the whole family.
This casserole could have been a food fail.
Sometimes I don’t have a plan whatsoever for what I’m going to cook. I use it as an opportunity to use up veggies and random items in my pantry, and live up to my “trial and eater” name.
What I definitely needed to use up was a huge carton of pre-cut butternut squash. Beyond that, I knew I’d have to get creative.
Somehow in my head I thought it would be a good idea to use butternut squash in place of pasta and drench it in spaghetti sauce. If that wasn’t weird enough, the only sauce I had in my pantry was vodka sauce. Which is pretty thick and creamy.
You’d think after that I’d definitely have changed my mind about this weird experiment. But you’d be wrong.
Continuing with the butternut squash + vodka sauce idea, I started to cook some quinoa. Because yeah, that would go with vodka sauce (??).
I blame low blood sugar for my poor decision making skills.
Anyway, quinoa cooking and casserole dish prepped, I try to open the vodka sauce. I’m telling you, I tried. I banged the top against the counter. I used those grippy things. Ran the lid under hot water. It would.not.open. I think that was the universe telling me to give.it.up.
For all I know, butternut squash and vodka sauce is amazing. But I’ll never know.
What I DO know is that this quinoa casserole tasted much better than I imagine my original idea would.
I tried to save a step and see if the butternut squash would cook in the casserole with the quinoa, and I could not get that to work. If anybody has tips for me on how to do that, please let me know. Maybe I needed more liquid in the dish for that to work?
Either way, I recommend pre-roasting the butternut squash and then tossing the quinoa and vegetables together to bake. You can do that on the stove-top like this recipe, or oven-roast like this. Either way should take you about 15 minutes.
I went for more of a mexican-food vibe with black beans and corn, and tossed an avocado and tomato in there too. Some people don’t like to add avocado before baking, so you can add slices after if you’d like.
To keep it vegan, you can leave off the cheese or use a non-dairy cheese. But I used real cheese.
You can smother it in hot sauce.
Or top with salsa or enchilada sauce.
But probably not vodka sauce.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 6 cups cubed butternut squash
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa + 2 cups water (3 cups cooked)
- 2 cups corn
- 1 (15 oz.) can black beans (a little more than a cup), drained and rinsed
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin (see notes)
- 1 lime, juiced
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 tomato (chopped)
- 1 avocado (diced)
- 2 cups cheddar cheese (non-dairy cheese if vegan)
- Salsa or hot sauce (optional, for serving)
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Roast the butternut squash with olive oil either in the oven (400°F for 15 minutes, further instructions can be found here) or on the stovetop (medium-high heat until soft, about 10-12 minutes like in this recipe).
- Meanwhile, cook quinoa according to package instructions (Add the quinoa + water in a sauce pan, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer until water is mostly absorbed, about 15 minutes).
- In a large casserole dish (at least 9x13), add the cooked squash and quinoa, corn and black beans. Sprinkle in cumin, lime juice, salt and pepper and mix together.
- Add tomato and avocado (you may prefer to wait until after baking to add the avocado). Top with cheese.
- Bake at 400°F for 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted.
If you desire extra crunch with this casserole, add 1/2 - 1 cup bread crumbs or panko (gluten-free if necessary) before adding the cheese.
*Cumin can be a stronger, earthy spice. If you don't frequently cook with this spice or think 1 tablespoon might end up being too bold for your tastes, start by mixing in 1 teaspoon and taste the quinoa mixture before baking. You can then work your way up to 1 tablespoon if you find necessary.
**If you find the cumin flavor is overpowering after baking, it can be helpful to add something sweet to "counteract" it a little bit. I would suggest a sprinkle of ground cinnamon.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 406Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 30mgSodium: 299mgCarbohydrates: 47gFiber: 11gSugar: 6gProtein: 15g
Nutrition information is calculated automatically by an online tool at Nutritionix. It is not always accurate. Please use your own tools to check if you rely on this information.