Quinoa Stuffing With Butternut Squash and Pecans

I am ridiculously excited for Thanksgiving! I can’t wait for the winding drive back to the country, the welcoming slobber from my dog, and my mom’s Thanksgiving stuffing cooking in the kitchen. Her stuffing is hands down my favorite part of every holiday meal. It’s always brimming with fragrant whiffs of sage and thyme that have me going back for one too many samples while she’s tweaking it on the stove. “Grace, keep your fork out of the pan!” It’s a yearly tradition…

In anticipation of her stuffing, I tested out this recipe I found via the NY Times to bring to one of the pre-Thanksgiving potlucks I was attending. I thought about calling my mom for her recipe, but then I decided I’d wait for her to feed me her signature dish. Just like Saturday morning omelets, it’s always better when Mom makes it.

I love the NY Times vegan collection they always publish leading up to the holidays. This particular recipe got bookmarked because I thought the healthy version of stuffing would bring a lot to a table full of heavy traditional dishes. Plus, ever since I started cooking quinoa, I haven’t gone back. I love the nutty grain, almost as much as I love toasted pecans.

I found the original version to be slightly bland, so I upped the traditional stuffing seasonings, adding an extra dose of sage and thyme. It’s a light and savory dish that would lend itself well to any Thanksgiving feast. It has all the flavor of stuffing, without that heavy bread feeling you get after finishing a pile of the standard version. I’ll definitely be making this again after the holidays finish up.

Quinoa Stuffing With Butternut Squash and Pecans

Yield: Serves 12-14


  • -1 3/4 cup black/red quinoa
  • -4 cups water or vegetable stock
  • -Salt to taste
  • -2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • -1 1/2 cups acorn or butternut squash, cut in small dice
  • -1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • -1 cup diced celery
  • -2 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • -2 garlic cloves, minced
  • -1/2 cup lightly toasted pecans, coarsely chopped
  • -1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • -1 1/2 Tbsp. dried sage
  • -Freshly ground pepper to taste


  1. Bring quinoa, water and salt, to taste, to a boil. Cover, and reduce heat to simmer. Cook 25-30 minutes, or until quinoa is tender and grains show a coiled thread.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet and sauté the squash, stirring often, until it is tender and lightly browned, 15-20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and transfer to a bowl. Turn heat down to medium and add remaining oil, garlic and the onion. Cook until the onion begins to soften, about 3 minutes, and add a generous pinch of salt, the celery, sage and thyme. Cook, stirring often, for 3-6 minutes, until the onion is completely tender and the celery is just tender. Transfer to the bowl with the squash.
  3. Add the quinoa and the remaining ingredients and stir together. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to an oiled or buttered baking dish and cover with foil.
  4. Warm for 20 to 30 minutes in a 325-degree oven before serving.

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  • Reply
    A Tablespoon of Liz
    November 21, 2011 at 10:33 am

    I had no idea the NYtimes published any vegan stuff like that, that’s awesome! And this stuffing look so good, I love quinoa!

  • Reply
    Hannah (BitterSweet)
    November 21, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    I’m not a big fan of bread-based stuffings, so this sounds idea to me! Love the combination of sweet and savory flavors, it’s so perfectly seasonal.

  • Reply
    Nicole, RD
    November 21, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    I am officially very, very glad that I picked up some beautiful red quinoa this weekend. I can’t wait to make this!

  • Reply
    The Candid RD
    November 21, 2011 at 8:51 pm

    Stuffing is one of my favorite parts of the Thanksgiving meal (if not my favorite). I do like traditional stuffing though, I’ll admit it. Last year my aunt make polenta stuffing and it just….wasn’t the same! But I think this one sounds good for an “Everyday side”, or maybe even a Christmas stuffing (since it’s red and all). Can you believe I have still never tried red quinoa?!?!

  • Reply
    November 21, 2011 at 10:57 pm

    So many good things packed into one dish! This is definitely going on my list of things to make!

  • Reply
    Lee Paul
    November 22, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    hey Grace…it’s aunt Lee. Gonna make this for thanksgiving eve at my house. Sounds yummy!

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