Quinoa Pilaf With Butternut Squash {Naturally Gluten Free}

By: Flora

Last Updated: March 19, 2024

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5 from 1 vote
I have been on a quest to find tasty ways to add quinoa to my diet because it is such a healthy food. I found this recipe in Canadian Gardening Magazine and it is one of the best quinoa recipes I have tried yet!
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If you’re looking for a healthy side dish that’s naturally gluten-free, this quinoa pilaf is hard to beat. Nuts add crunch while dried cranberries and butternut squash add tons of flavor.

Quinoa pilaf

I have been on a quest to find tasty ways to add quinoa to my diet because it is such a healthy food.

Not only is it packed with vitamins and minerals, it is a complete protein, and gluten free.

Although it looks like a grain, it is not a grass. It is a member of the beet and kale families.

One would never know it based on the bland taste of plain boiled quinoa.

Fortunately, it blends well with other flavors to make a nutritious, delicious side dish that’s a great alternative to rice or potatoes for holiday meals.

Quinoa Pilaf

I found this recipe in Canadian Gardening Magazine and it is one of the best quinoa recipes I have tried yet!


Quinoa Pilaf ingredients

Here is your shopping list for this Quinoa Pilaf recipe:

  • Quinoa – obviously!
  • Fresh fruits & vegetables – 1 butternut squash, 1 lemon
  • Oil – 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • Dried spices – salt, pepper
  • Dairy – 1 Tablespoon butter – Unsalted works best. If you use the salted variety, you can reduce the amount of salt you add to the recipe.
  • Dried fruit, nuts and seeds – ¼ cup dried cranberries, ½ cup pecans, ¼ cup pumpkin seeds, ¼ cup pistachios – For less work, buy shelled pistachios.
  • Fresh spices – 1 Tablespoon parsley. You can substitute 1 teaspoon of dried parsley if you don’t have any fresh parsley available.

How To Make Quinoa Pilaf

quinoa and pumpkin seeds in half a butternut squash

Prep work

Pre-heat the oven to 350℉.

Peel the squash, remove the seeds and cut it into 1 inch cubes.

Zest and juice half of a lemon.

Chop the pecans.

Shell the pistachios (if you didn’t buy them without the shell on).

If you like extra crunch, roast the pumpkin seeds on a cookie sheet in the oven for 5 minutes.

Chop the parsley.

Cook The Squash

The first step to making this quinoa pilaf recipe is to cook the squash.

Before you start, line a cookie sheet with a piece of parchment paper. This helps to prevent the squash from burning.

Butternut Squash on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper

Spread the cubed squash out on the cookie sheet and toss with oil, salt and pepper.

Then bake at 350℉ for 20 to 25 minutes or until soft.

Cook The Quinoa

cooked quinoa in a bowl

Put 2 cups of water in a pot and bring to a boil.

Add the quinoa to the pot, then cover and reduce the heat to low.

Cook for about 12 minutes. Inserting the handle of a wooden spoon between the lid and the rim of the pot will prevent it from boiling over.

Remove from the heat and let sit for 5 minutes.

Then fluff the quinoa with a fork.

Make The Pilaf

Quinoa pilaf with butternut squash in a bowl
Quinoa Pilaf

Put the cooked quinoa in a large serving bowl with the cooked squash, lemon zest, lemon juice, 1 Tablespoon butter, ¼ cup dried cranberries, chopped pecans, ¼ cup pumpkin seeds, ¼ cup shelled pistachios and the chopped parsley.

Toss until mixed.

Serve warm.

Quinoa Pilaf

Quinoa Pilaf

5 from 1 vote
Servings: 6 servings
Prep 15 minutes
Cook 20 minutes
Total 35 minutes


  • 1 butternut squash
  • 2 teaspoon olive oil
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • Zest and juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • ½ cup pecans chopped
  • ¼ cup pistachios shelled
  • ¼ cup pumpkin seeds roasted
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh parsley chopped


Cook The Squash

  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • Peel the butternut squash and cut into ¾” cubes.
  • Spread out on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  • Toss the squash cubes with the olive oil and the salt and pepper.
  • Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, until tender and golden, stirring once in a while.

Cook the Quinoa

  • Meanwhile, boil the water in the medium sauce pan.
  • Add the quinoa.
  • Cover and reduce the heat to simmer for 12 min. 
  • Remove the cooked quinoa from the heat and let sit for 5 min. Then fluff with a fork.

Make The Pilaf

  • Put the quinoa into the bowl and toss with the butter, lemon zest, lemon juice and the squash.
  • Stir in the cranberries, pumpkin seeds, pecans, pistachios, and parsley.
  • Serve warm and be prepared for compliments!


To prevent the quinoa from boiling over the sides of the pot, insert the handle of a wooden spoon between the rim of the pot and the lid.
Reduce the amount of salt added, if you are using salted butter instead of unsalted.
Nutrition Facts
Quinoa Pilaf
Serving Size
1 g
Amount per Serving
% Daily Value*
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Nutrition values are estimates only, using online calculators. Please verify using your own data.

courseSide Dish
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This post was originally published on February 11, 2016 but was updated with new content on March 19, 2024.

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