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Holiday gatherings can be tough for me, in terms of food. Since I don’t eat meat, can’t eat dairy, and am currently avoiding gluten, this year was bound to be even harder than usual! I wanted to bring something that would be healthy and hearty so that I wouldn’t be hungry and tempted to eat something that would make me sick later (the cheese! the stuffed artichokes! the creamy mashed potatoes!)

At the same time, I wanted something that felt festive and wouldn’t leave me craving those typical Thanksgiving flavors. So, I decided to use seasonal ingredients with beautiful Fall hues to make this grain salad that can be eaten hot or cold (since cooking space is at a premium on holidays).

squash quinoa cranberries hazelnuts chickpeas

I used red quinoa as the base. I don’t think it tastes any different from the regular quinoa, but the color sure is pretty! I set that to boil while I prepared the rest.

Squash season is in full effect, and there is plenty of beautiful squash to be had, and cheaply. I don’t know about you, but I like to keep my fingers, so when I’m buying butternut squash, I usually buy the pre-peeled and pre-cut ones. My store had a local pre-cut squash on sale, so I snagged that.

I diced the squash into 1/2-inch cubes (not totally off the hook from chopping!), sprinkled it with chili powder, cinnamon, ginger, and salt and pepper, and roasted it.

roasted squash

Toasted hazelnuts have been in my dreams lately, so those were going in for sure. An easy tip for chopping nuts: Put them in a plastic bag and smash them with the back of a knife. It keeps those little suckers from rolling and flying everywhere. And it feels pretty badass.

chopping nuts

Although quinoa is a high-protein grain, I felt this needed more of a protein boost, and I had chickpeas in my pantry, so those went in, too.

Dried cranberries and parsley topped it off, with a simple dressing of olive oil and apple cider vinegar.

squash quinoa cranberries hazelnuts parsley

I added all of the ingredients to a large bowl and combined them. We loved this dish and were eating the leftovers all week. Sure beats leftover dried-out stuffing! If you try it, let me know what you think!

quinoa pilaf

Spiced Squash Quinoa

Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Servings: 12
Calories: 224kcal


  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 3 cups butternut squash
  • 1.5 cups chickpeas, drained
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup hazelnuts
  • 1 cup parsley
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • salt & pepper, to taste


  • In a medium saucepan, bring 1 cup of quinoa to a boil in 2 cups water. Cover and reduce to simmer until cooked, about 20 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  • Dice the squash into 1/2-inch cubes. Place the squash on a baking sheet sprayed with olive oil spray, then sprinkle with chili powder, cinnamon, and ginger. Bake for 20 minutes.
  • Chop the hazelnuts.
  • In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine the cooked quinoa, roasted squash, parsley, hazelnuts, chickpeas, cranberries, and dressing. Toss to combine.


Calories: 224kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 8mg | Potassium: 358mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 4172IU | Vitamin C: 15mg | Calcium: 52mg | Iron: 2mg

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