Vegetarian Quinoa Recipe with Sweet Potato, Butternut Squash, and Cranberries

Autumn Quinoa

Vegetarian Quinoa Recipe with Sweet Potato, Butternut Squash, and Cranberries
Preparation time: 15 minutes | Cooking time: 30 minutes | Servings: 4 | Vegetarian diet


Autumn Quinoa
Autumn Quinoa

Autumn Quinoa is a warm, comforting dish that perfectly encapsulates the flavors of the season. This recipe combines the nutty taste of quinoa with the sweetness of orange juice, honey, sweet potatoes, and butternut squash, balanced with the savory notes of onion and spices. It's a wholesome, nutritious meal that's as colorful as autumn leaves. Ideal for a cozy dinner or a festive side dish, this recipe is sure to delight your taste buds and nourish your body.


The history of quinoa stretches back thousands of years, originally cultivated in the Andean region of South America. It was a staple food for the Inca civilization, revered as the "mother of all grains." This Autumn Quinoa recipe, however, is a modern creation that combines ancient grains with the flavors of autumn harvest vegetables and spices. It reflects a fusion of cultural culinary traditions, showcasing how ancient ingredients can be revitalized in contemporary dishes.


How to prepare

  1. Thoroughly rinse the quinoa by placing it in a large bowl and filling the bowl with cold water.
  2. Drain the quinoa and repeat the rinsing and draining process four more times; set aside.
  3. Melt the margarine in a 2 qt (1.89 liter) saucepan over medium-high heat.
  4. Add the onion and ginger, and cook, stirring, until the onion is softened.
  5. Stir in the orange juice, water, honey, salt, coriander, cardamom, and nutmeg; bring to a boil.
  6. Stir in the sweet potato and squash; bring to a boil.
  7. Cook, uncovered, for 7 minutes.
  8. Stir in the butter beans and quinoa, and return to a boil.
  9. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.
  10. Stir in the cranberries; simmer, covered, for an additional 5 minutes.


  • For a vegan version, ensure the margarine is plant-based or use olive oil.
  • Add chopped nuts like pecans or walnuts for extra crunch and nutrition.
  • Incorporate other seasonal vegetables such as parsnips or Brussels sprouts for variety.

Cooking Tips & Tricks

To ensure your Autumn Quinoa turns out perfectly, consider the following tips:

- Rinse quinoa thoroughly to remove its natural coating, saponin, which can give it a bitter taste.

- Use fresh orange juice if possible, as it will add a brighter flavor to the dish.

- Cut the sweet potato and butternut squash into uniform pieces to ensure even cooking.

- To add a crunchy texture, consider toasting the quinoa in the saucepan for a few minutes before adding the liquids.

Serving Suggestions

Serve Autumn Quinoa as a main dish with a side of green salad dressed with a vinaigrette or as a side dish to complement grilled chicken or fish. It's also delicious on its own, garnished with a sprinkle of chopped parsley or cilantro for added freshness.

Cooking Techniques

The key techniques in this recipe include sautéing to develop flavors, boiling and simmering for cooking the quinoa and vegetables thoroughly, and the proper rinsing of quinoa to remove bitterness.

Ingredient Substitutions

Replace margarine with olive oil or coconut oil for a different flavor profile.

- Maple syrup can be used instead of honey for a vegan option.

- If orange juice is not available, apple cider is a great alternative that complements the autumn theme.

Make Ahead Tips

This dish can be prepared in advance and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. The flavors often meld and improve with time, making it a great option for meal prep.

Presentation Ideas

Serve the Autumn Quinoa in a hollowed-out pumpkin or squash for a festive presentation. Garnish with fresh herbs and a sprinkle of pomegranate seeds for a pop of color.

Pairing Recommendations

Pair this dish with a light, crisp white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc or a dry Riesling to complement the sweet and savory flavors of the quinoa.

Storage and Reheating Instructions

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop, adding a little water or orange juice to prevent drying out.

Nutrition Information

Calories per serving

Each serving of Autumn Quinoa contains approximately 250 calories, making it a nutritious and satisfying option for those monitoring their calorie intake.


This dish is a good source of complex carbohydrates, primarily from quinoa, sweet potatoes, and butternut squash. A serving provides approximately 45 grams of carbohydrates, offering sustained energy without the blood sugar spikes associated with simple sugars.


The fats in this recipe come mainly from the margarine used for cooking. Each serving contains about 5 grams of fat, with a mix of saturated and unsaturated fats. For a healthier option, you can substitute margarine with olive oil, which provides heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.


Quinoa is a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids. Combined with butter beans, this dish is a good vegetarian source of protein, offering about 8 grams per serving. This makes it an excellent choice for those looking to increase their protein intake without consuming meat.

Vitamins and minerals

Autumn Quinoa is rich in vitamins and minerals, thanks to the variety of vegetables and quinoa. It's an excellent source of Vitamin A from sweet potatoes and butternut squash, Vitamin C from orange juice, and various B vitamins from quinoa. Additionally, it provides essential minerals like magnesium, potassium, and iron.


This recipe is naturally gluten-free and dairy-free. However, it contains margarine, which may have traces of soy, a common allergen. Always check the labels if you're using store-bought ingredients to ensure they meet your dietary needs.


Autumn Quinoa is a balanced, nutritious dish that provides a good mix of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, along with a variety of vitamins and minerals. It's a hearty, healthy option suitable for a range of dietary preferences.


Autumn Quinoa is a versatile, nutritious dish that celebrates the flavors of the season. With its combination of sweet, savory, and spicy elements, it's a delightful addition to any meal. Whether you're looking for a hearty main or a festive side, this recipe is sure to impress with its depth of flavor and nutritional benefits.

How did I get this recipe?

I remember the sense of anticipation I felt when I first discovered this recipe for Autumn Quinoa. It was a crisp fall day, with the leaves turning brilliant shades of red and orange, and a slight chill in the air that hinted at the approach of winter. I had been invited to a potluck dinner with some friends, and I wanted to bring something special to share.

I had always loved cooking, and had spent years collecting recipes from various places and people. Some were handed down from my own mother and grandmothers, while others I had found in cookbooks or stumbled upon in magazines. But this recipe for Autumn Quinoa was something new and exciting, a blend of flavors and textures that I had never encountered before.

I had come across the recipe in a magazine while waiting at the dentist's office, and had torn it out to save for later. The combination of hearty quinoa, sweet roasted vegetables, and a tangy balsamic dressing sounded like the perfect dish to celebrate the season. I couldn't wait to try it out and see how it turned out.

I gathered the ingredients I needed – quinoa, butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, dried cranberries, and a few other odds and ends – and set to work in my kitchen. As I chopped and roasted and stirred, the aroma of the vegetables mingling with the warm spices filled the air, making my mouth water in anticipation.

When the dish was finally finished and I took my first bite, I knew I had found something truly special. The nutty quinoa provided a hearty base for the sweet and savory vegetables, while the dried cranberries added a burst of tartness that balanced out the flavors perfectly. The balsamic dressing tied everything together with its tangy sweetness, creating a dish that was both comforting and satisfying.

I brought the Autumn Quinoa to the potluck that evening, and it was a hit with everyone who tried it. My friends raved about the unique combination of flavors and asked me for the recipe so they could make it themselves. I was thrilled to share my newfound discovery with them, knowing that it would bring joy and warmth to their own kitchens.

Since that day, the recipe for Autumn Quinoa has become a staple in my cooking repertoire. I have made it countless times for family gatherings, dinner parties, and quiet nights at home. Each time, I am reminded of that first moment of discovery, when I stumbled upon something new and delicious that would become a beloved favorite.

I have made a few tweaks to the original recipe over the years, adding in different vegetables or experimenting with new seasonings. But the core of the dish remains the same – a celebration of the flavors of autumn, captured in a simple and satisfying bowl of quinoa.

As I sit here now, reflecting on the journey that brought me to this recipe, I am filled with gratitude for the joy that cooking has brought into my life. The kitchen has always been a place of comfort and creativity for me, a place where I can express myself and share my love with others. And the recipe for Autumn Quinoa is a perfect example of that – a delicious reminder of the beauty and abundance that can be found in a simple bowl of food.

So as the leaves begin to turn once again and the air grows colder, I know that I will be reaching for the ingredients to make Autumn Quinoa once more. It is a dish that never fails to warm the soul and nourish the body, a true taste of the season that I am grateful to have discovered. And I look forward to sharing it with many more friends and loved ones in the years to come, spreading the joy and comfort that good food can bring.


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