Sometimes in life I find myself going through these crazy phases where I simply can’t get enough of a certain type of food.
When I was 6 it was cheese-filled hot dogs. (Umm, remember those?!)
12 year old me couldn’t get enough Nature Valley Granola Bars. (Please tell me you’ve seen the HIGHlarious fake Nature Valley wrapper floating around Pinterest?)
My sophomore year of high school? All Banana cream pie, all the time. (Don’t even get me started on the BCP club my friends and I had.)
Junior year of college was riddled with bags of salt & vinegar chips (I can still feel the tongue burns…)
And I can remember the first winter after college when I made a batch of sweet & spicy chili every Sunday, then ate the leftovers for lunch all week afterwards. This went on for MONTHS. (I couldn’t make that recipe again for years after I came to my senses!)
These days? Well, I’m simply stuck on quinoa. Simply struck, is more like it!
Quinoa is as filling as it is versatile, and lately I’ve been having fun putting it in everything from salads, to mini breakfast bites, to mac & cheese – and now soup. Er, rather – stew. Chicken Stew with Butternut Squash & Quinoa, to be exact!
Chicken Stew with Butternut Squash & Quinoa is one of the most unique dishes to ever come out of my kitchen. Sweet butternut squash is paired with salty kalamata olives, shredded chicken, and fluffy quinoa, all swirled in a savory chicken broth. It is hearty, full-flavored and so satisfying.
It is a perfect cold-weather dish too, and makes plenty for leftovers. Start the stew by peeling, seeding and chopping a butternut squash.
I used a vegetable peeler to get the outer peel off, then a big, sharp knife to cut the top, straight half off the bottom half.
Chop the squash into 1/2″ pieces then place it in a microwave safe bowl with a splash of water. Put a lid on top then microwave for 5-6 minutes or until the squash is just barely tender. Remove half, set it aside, and continue microwaving the other half until it’s very soft, about 3-4 additional minutes.
Drain, then mash the squash that was microwaved the longest with a fork or potato masher.
Squash = done! Set aside for the moment.
Next, place two frozen or thawed chicken breasts in a large soup pot or Dutch oven on the stove over high heat.
Add in rich chicken broth to cover, then bring it to a boil and place a lid on top.
Let the chicken breasts poach in the broth for 10-15 minutes, or until cooked all the way through. Remove the chicken to a plate and shred when it’s cool. Pour the broth into a separate bowl and set aside.
Return the pot to the stove and add in olive oil and minced onion. Saute the onion until it’s soft, then add in fragrant garlic and earthy dried oregano, and cook for another minute.
Next add in a can of petite diced tomatoes (I’m a freak about chunks, so I zipped mine through my mini food processor first) as well as the cubed and mashed butternut squash.
Pour the reserved chicken broth back in, plus rinsed uncooked quinoa, and let the whole thing simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the quinoa is cooked and puffed.
Finally, add the shredded chicken, pitted & quartered kalamata olives,
and fresh parsley into the mix, then stir to combine.
Season with additional salt & pepper, if necessary, and off you go!
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Chicken Stew with Butternut Squash & Quinoa
Chicken Stew with Butternut Squash & Quinoa is packed with vegetables and enlightening flavors. Gluten-free, too!
- 1-1/2 lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded & chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
- 3-1/2 cups chicken broth
- 2 large chicken breasts
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 medium yellow onion, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1-1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 14oz can petite diced tomatoes
- 2/3 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
- 3/4 cup pitted & quartered kalamata olives
- 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Place the butternut squash and a splash of water in a large bowl with a lid in the microwave, and cook until barely tender, about 6-7 minutes. Remove half of the squash and set it aside. Cook the remaining squash an additional 3-4 minutes or until it is very tender. Drain, then mash this squash with the back of a fork and also set aside.
- Add the chicken broth and chicken breasts to a large soup pot on the stove, and bring to a boil. Place a lid on top, lower the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked all the way through. Remove chicken to a plate to cool, and pour chicken broth into a separate bowl.
- Return the pot to the stove over medium-low heat, and add in the olive oil. Add onion, salt, and pepper and saute until the onion is soft and brown, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and oregano. Cook, stirring constantly, for another minute.
- Add tomatoes and all the butternut squash to the pot. Stir to combine. Pour in reserved chicken broth and quinoa, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil then place a lid on top, lower the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 15 minutes or until quinoa is tender and cooked.
- Meanwhile, shred the chicken. When quinoa is cooked, stir in chicken, olives and parsley. Cook until chicken is hot, season with additional salt & pepper if necessary, then ladle into bowls.
- If making ahead of time, you'll need extra chicken broth when re-heating as the quinoa soaks up some of the broth as it cools.
This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.
Like I said – this stew is so incredibly unique. I love how the cubed butternut squash is creamy, the mashed squash is silky, and that the quinoa lends a little poppy bite to each spoonful.
Don’t even get me started on the flavor contrast between the salty olives and sweet squash. It is sooo good!