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Quinoa and Butternut Squash Paella Recipe

This vegan paella recipe, a great addition to your lineup of fall dinners, is full of plant-based nutrition.

From "Vegan-Ease: An Easy Guide to Enjoying a Plant-Based Diet"
July/August 2016

  • Quinoa and Butternut Squash Paella
    Quinoa and veggies replace traditional rice and seafood in this vegan paella dish.
    Photo by David Kaplan
  • Quinoa and Butternut Squash Paella

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

Traditional paella is rice-based, but here the nutrition is kicked up a notch with protein-packed quinoa. The result is a filling and flavorful paella-style dish that makes for a satisfying meal.


• 1 can or jar (28 ounces) whole or crushed tomatoes, with liquid (choose a brand that minimizes BPA in can linings, such as Eden Foods)
• 1-1/2 cups diced onions
• 4 cups chopped butternut squash (1-inch cubes)
• 1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
• 1-1/2 cups lightly packed, thinly sliced curly kale
• 1-3/4 cups uncooked quinoa, thoroughly rinsed and drained
• 2-1/2 cups vegetable broth, plus more as needed
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 teaspoons honey or brown sugar (optional)
• 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
• 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
• 1/2 teaspoon smoked or sweet paprika
• 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
• 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
• 1 large red pepper, sliced into strips
• 2 to 3 scallions, chopped, for garnish
• Lemon wedges, for garnish (optional)


1. Pour tomatoes and their juice in a medium-sized bowl and lightly mash, using a potato masher or large fork.

2. Put onion and tomatoes in a 12-inch paella pan or large, deep skillet. Cover and bring to simmer over medium heat. Decrease heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 5 minutes.

3. Stir in butternut squash, cover and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Stir in chickpeas, kale and quinoa. Cover and cook for 2 minutes.

5. Put 2-1/2 cups broth, garlic, honey, lemon juice, turmeric, paprika, salt and cayenne pepper in a medium-sized bowl and stir to incorporate. Pour broth mixture into skillet and gently stir to combine. Cover and cook for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. If the pan seems dry, add a few tablespoons of extra vegetable broth at a time, as needed, to keep paella moist. Stir paella one more time and then arrange red pepper slices over the top in a pretty pattern. Do not stir.

6. Decrease heat to low, cover and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and allow paella to stand for 10 to 15 minutes. Sprinkle scallions over the top and serve family style with optional lemon wedges. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Find more vegan recipes in 4 Plant-Based Meals for Vegan Eating.

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