This crockpot Mexican quinoa is bursting with deliciously fresh and healthy ingredients. This dish is all cooked in the slow cooker (even the quinoa and butternut squash) and has lots of “hidden veggies.”
How do you all feel about butternut squash? Personally, its my favorite squash ever.
When I started dating my husband, just guess who said he hated butternut squash? Yeah it would be him. This news was almost a deal breaker. Luckily he flashed his cute smile and all was fine in the world for then. So we dated longer and I avoided cooking with squash. Then we got married and I further avoided cooking with squash.
And then we were married for 2 years and I went and bought all the squash in the store. The exact number was 9 butternut squashes because they were 59 cents apiece and I tend to go overboard when I find produce on sale. This purchase wasn’t because I was trying to be an awful wife (pinky swear I try to always please him for dinner!) but I had a sudden maddening determination to get him to like it. I just couldn’t go another Fall without the squash. So I searched the best recipes and ended up deciding to just coat the squash cubes in olive oil + salt + pepper + some other spices and roast them in the oven.
You may be able to guess that the story has a very happy ending. Not only did he LOVE the squash, but I’m pretty sure the husband is more obsessed with it than I am. In fact, when they go on sale now, he asks me to stock up. And nowadays, when he asks me to make butternut squash, well, he just gets even cuter to me.
So the moral of the story? It’s all how you prepare the squash. Or, you get really lucky. Or you really will hate it no matter what and just wasted your time reading a very boring story. Basically I’m not sure the moral of the story. What I am sure of – this is one of the best ways I’ve ever eaten butternut squash!
If you’ve been reading my blog for more than a day, you’ve likely come to understand my obsession with slow cooker meals, quick dinners, and little preparation time. Oh, and I like lots of flavor. This dish definitely fits the bill.
In fact, it’s really just an open the cans and drop em in the slow cooker kind of meal. The butternut squash does need to be peeled and cubed, BUT if you want an even quicker prep, a lot of stores have pre-cubed butternut squash. Sometimes, that is one of my bestest best friends. Because that’s totally normal.
Oh yes!! And if you want a jalapeno (TOTALLY OPTIONAL), that does need some fine chopping.
Then dump in the rinsed quinoa, rinsed /drained black beans, frozen or fresh corn, petite diced tomatoes (do the fire roasted, yum!), chopped butternut squash, enchilada sauce, taco seasoning mix, and water; then STIR. BAM. Done 🙂
I generally cook slow cooker quinoa dishes on high, because the quinoa always seems to cook better for me. I have not tried cooking this dish on low, so I can’t recommend a time frame. There have been commenters on other slow cooker quinoa recipes that cook it on low and have success, but I am going to still recommend cooking it on high because that’s what I’ve done and would feel TERRIBLE if I recommended something I haven’t tried and then it didn’t work for someone.
When this dish is all done (the quinoa is cooked and the squash is tender), it may be a little soup-y looking. In fact, I almost thought this recipe would end up being a soup! But if you take the lid off of it and stir it around for a bit, all the liquid does get absorbed. Pinky promise. And worst case, you do still have a little liquid? Just drain it off or serve it with a slotted spoon. ALTERNATIVELY, you can always add a little bit more chicken broth and make it into a thick soup/stew. Yum!
As far as toppings, I think mixing in a huge dollup of sour cream (I always get fat free and it tastes great) is super delicious. A freshly squeeze lime wedge and chopped cilantro are also definite adds in my book. Oh, and of course some cheddar cheese 🙂 But feel free to top this as you like – different type of cheese, sliced green onions, a chopped avocado, a diced tomato…whatever you like on Mexican dishes will likely be awesome on this! Substitutions are quite easy as well. If you aren’t convinced you’ll love the butternut squash in this dish, try sweet potatoes (I’m definitely doing that next!), you can switch out the beans, leave off the jalapeno, add bell peppers, more/different spices, you name it!
- 1 and 1/2 pounds butternut squash ~4 cups
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 1 can (15.25 ounces) black beans drained and rinsed
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa rinsed
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 can (14.5 ounces) fire-roasted petite diced tomatoes
- 1 small jalapeno optional
- 2 cans (19 ounces each) mild red enchilada sauce*
- 1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
- 1 package (1.25 ounces) taco seasoning
- Optional toppings: shredded cheddar cheese, fresh lime juice, sour cream, chopped cilantro
- Spray your slow cooker with nonstick spray. Be generous!! I use a relatively new (5 years old) 6-quart crockpot for this recipe. Older crockpots don't always cook as quickly or the same temperature throughout the whole crockpot.
- Peel and deseed the butternut squash. Cut it into cubes and place in the slow cooker.
- Add in the corn, drained and rinsed black beans, rinsed quinoa (I rinse mine in a fine mesh sieve), minced garlic, undrained fire-roasted petite diced tomatoes, diced jalapeno (if desired), the 2 cans of enchilada sauce (make sure you have the right ounce amount - these are the large cans), the vegetable or chicken broth, and the packet of taco seasoning.
- Give everything a really good stir, cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours or until the quinoa is cooked and the butternut squash is tender.
- Remove the lid and stir everything together really well. Allow the liquid to absorb while on low for another 30 minutes or until mostly absorbed.
- Season with any additional spices and/or salt and pepper if desired.
- Top bowls with optional toppings - some shredded cheese, fresh lime juice, sour cream, and cilantro is what we love!
I've had a few reader comments that this was too spicy with 2 cans of enchilada sauce. My family has never found this dish overly spicy by using a store-brand mild enchilada sauce, but if you are worried about too much spice and/or aren't using a very mild brand, you may want to try using water/broth as a substitute for the second can of enchilada sauce.
More simple quinoa crockpot recipes to try next: