Heartwarming Butternut Squash and Quinoa Stew

I remember being so tired that evening, having started the day at 4:30am, leaving our house at 5:45am for the long commute to the hospital.  I worked an 8 hour shift that day, missed lunch because of understaffing, and after punching out, headed to the highway for a much longer commute to a new friend’s house to discuss a women’s group we were starting up soon; we wanted to talk further about logistics.

I remember as I sat in the car, how my feet throbbed from standing most of the shift.  I remember being hungry, and I remember wanting to cancel on my friend because I was so tired.  It was January in Seattle and the air was cold and misty, dark and unfamiliar, and I longed for comfort, a warm bath and pajamas.

But I didn’t want to cancel our meeting.  I wanted to keep my commitment.

Donna, my friend, met me at her door, gave me a hug and invited me into her kitchen.  Her house was warm and carried a scent of sautéed onions, garlic and a hint of oregano.  We talked about our days and then she offered me her Butternut Squash Quinoa Stew.  I fought back tears when accepting this bowl of stew, warm and full of sustenance that I desired, because I felt as though I was being invited to rest and care for myself. I sat grateful, spooning the stew into my mouth, as a mother to her child, and I experienced comfort, offered to me by my friend.

I was not tired, nor was I cold, but instead, I was grateful for a new friendship and some heartwarming stew.

Here’s the recipe:

Butternut Squash and Quinoa Stew
Revised from the kitchen of Cookin Canuck.


1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped into ½ inch pieces
3 ½ cups chicken broth
1 T. olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
½ tsp kosher salt
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ tsp dried oregano
1 can (14 oz) petite diced tomatoes (we use Rotelle for a little heat) without draining
2/3 cup uncooked quinoa
¾ cup pitted and quartered kalamata olives
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

optional:  cooked chicken breast, torn to bite-sized pieces


Microwave the butternut squash for 3 minutes (the whole thing) which makes cutting it into ½ inch pieces somewhat easier.

Microwave the butternut squash pieces until barely tender and remove half of the squash pieces and set aside.

Steam the remaining squash until very tender and then mash this squash with the back of a fork.  Set aside.

Saute onions in olive oil, stirring occasionally, until onion is starting to turn brown, 8-10 minutes, in a large saucepan.

Add minced garlic and oregano.  Cook, stirring, for 1 additional minute.

To the saucepan, add tomatoes, butternut squash pieces, mashed butternut squash.  Stir to combine.

Stir in chicken broth and quinoa.  Bring to a simmer, cover and cook until the quinoa turns translucent, about 15-20 minutes.

Stir the olives and pepper (and chicken if adding) into the stew and simmer, uncovered, to heat, about 5 minutes.


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Maureen Gebben is enjoying life in the Pacific Northwest after moving there a year ago with her husband, who is presently enrolled in The Seattle School. Mother of 2 fabulous children, she has been married for 29 years. She dreams of gardening on her farm with afternoons spent fly fishing in the property’s stream. Maureen loves hiking, a well-hit back hand, and laughter.