A Big Mess of Slow Cooker Quinoa Deliciousness
January is prime slow cooker season, as far as I’m concerned. The days are still pretty dark and pretty cold (okay, it was 70 and sunny here in Austin today, but that’s still kinda “cold” for us in Texas). When I get home it’s nice to have something hot and tasty waiting for me. (Besides my fiance. Haha. I’m fully of the jokes today.)
A lot of the popular slow cooker recipes out there are kinda unhealthy, but I’m still recovering from the massive infusion of sugar, butter, and booze I put my body through last month during the holidays, so I like to keep my January dinners fairly light. Luckily there are plenty of meals that are easy to throw in the crock pot, absolutely satisfying, AND good for you.
This red quinoa stew is one of those recipes. It’s so filling and flavorful that it seems like it should be worse for you, but it’s a paragon of good nutrition. Plenty of protein, fiber, and vegetables. This recipe makes 4-6 servings, so if you’re not feeding a big family you should have some nice leftovers for lunch the next day. The slow cooker truly is the gift that keeps on giving.
Red Quinoa Butternut Squash Stew
2 chicken breasts
3 cups peeled & diced butternut squash
2/3 cup quinoa
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes
1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted
3 cups kale, roughly chopped
1 can (14oz) diced tomatoes
1/2 cup canned black beans
3 cups chicken broth
3 cloves garlic, diced
1/2 tablespoon red pepper flakes
fresh ground black pepper & sea salt to taste
1/2 avocado, sliced (for topping!)
Ah, the beauty of the slow cooker. Just take everything in this list, besides the avocado, and throw it in there. As with any crockpot recipe, put the raw meat on the bottom, top it with the vegetables, beans, and grains, and make sure there’s enough moisture from the chicken and tomatoes to cover everything. If you need a little extra glug of broth, feel free to go for it.
Set the slow cooker on low and let it cook for 6-8 hours. The quinoa will absorb all the delicious flavors and fluff up, the chicken will naturally start to shred apart, and the butternut squash will cook and break down a bit, adding a thickness and creaminess to the dish. When you’re ready to serve, just give it a good stir to make sure everything is combined and the chicken has shredded down enough. Then do a quick taste test – you might want a bit more salt, black pepper, or red pepper flakes. (Feel free to add some of your favorite hot sauce if you’d like, too.)
Serve in a big bowl with plenty of avocado slices and a pinch of finishing salt if you have it on hand. YUM.