Quinoa Bowl Recipe with Squash, Spinach and Cilantro-Lime Dressing

Way back in 2011, before quinoa bowls were a thing, I created this recipe for Serious Eats and didn't know what to call it. It hardly matters what you name it, since it's packed with fall flavors and nutrition and absolute deliciousness. But hey, it's nice to know it has a place in the modern world.


This quinoa bowl recipe calls for dumpling squash, but you can use any winter squash of your choice.

Oh, let's just call it a quinoa bowl, shall we?

In these middling days of autumn, with weather neither hot nor cold, I tend to gravitate toward equally noncommittal vegetable dishes. They’ll commit to being full of the flavors and colors of the season, but beyond that, they don’t like to be pinned down.

Take the attached recipe, for instance. It’s a bright, beautiful bowl of roasted dumpling squash, baby spinach, and quinoa, tossed together with a zingy cilantro-lime dressing and a few crunchy pepitas. Is it a salad? Sure, you could call it that if you feel like it, and even serve it chilled. But if you’re in the mood for a warming main at dinner, you could just as viably ignore its salad-like tendencies and serve it hot. Maybe even with a green salad on the side, to really confuse matters.

A cozy meal that's easy to love

Luckily—like many things in the world that are worth getting to know—this meal is easier to like than it is to understand. It will leave you satisfied, even if it also leaves you guessing.

Quinoa Bowls with Winter Squash, Spinach and Cilantro-Lime Dressing

This recipe calls for dumpling squash, but any winter squash with mild, sweet flesh and edible skin would work well here, or even one with firm flesh and inedible skin, as long as you peel it first. Acorn, delicata, red kuri, and buttercup would all be great choices. Dumpling squash are on the smallish side (similar to a small acorn squash — the one I used was under two pounds), so use that as a reference. Squash sweetness varies a lot between varieties, so you might want to up the lime juice a bit if you use a really sweet variety.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Serves 4


  • 1 medium dumpling squash
  • 3 tablespoons good olive oil, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt, divided
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed in a few changes of water and drained well
  • 5 ounces baby spinach
  • Juice and zest of 1 lime
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup hulled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)


  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Cut the squash into quarters. Scoop out and discard the seeds and stringy pulp. Cut each squash quarter into 1/4-inch-thick wedges. Place squash wedges on a baking sheet and toss with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Spread the wedges in a single layer in the pan. Roast for about 30 minutes, until tender and slightly browned. Set aside to cool slightly. (Alternatively, if you have a convection oven, it's great to use here, at 400°F.)
  2. Meanwhile, place the quinoa in a 4-quart pot over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until lightly toasted, about two minutes. Add 2 cups of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Simmer, uncovered, until quinoa turns translucent and water is almost absorbed, about 10 minutes. Then stir in the baby spinach all at once, place a lid on the pot, and cook over low heat for 5 minutes more.
  3. To make the dressing, whisk together the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, the lime zest and juice, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
  4. In a large bowl, place the roasted squash, quinoa-spinach mixture, chopped cilantro, and pumpkin seeds. Drizzle with the dressing and toss gently to coat. Serve warm or at room temperature. Keeps well in the fridge for up to three days.

Nutrition Information

Amount Per Serving:

Calories:: 390 Total Fat:: 17.4g Carbohydrates:: 52.8g Fiber:: 8.3g Protein:: 11.5g