Butternut Squash and Cranberry Pilaf

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It never rains in California…” HAH!!! I’ve got news for them… it does rain in California.. even in October!!

Now, this might not be a big deal for you if you don’t live in California but for those of us who do.. well it is (and yes, it’s the small things that make us happy!)

For me, rain means “fall” and “fall foods”… so I am totally exploiting this weather  – I don’t care that it was over 80 this past weekend – I am digging right in.. it may not be cool enough for sweaters but I am going to take what I can get!!

So, to start the ball rolling I decided to kick it off with a very fall inspired pilaf. Roasted butternut squash, dried cranberries, pecans… even the colors are fall inspired!!

Now, since I believe in full disclosure, I am going to tell you that this pilaf is a little bit of work… but the payoffs are worth it!! It not only tastes delicious but it’s very versatile. Serve it as a side with some roasted chicken, pork or beef (or a large salad if you don’t eat meat). Put the extras (if you are smart enough to make extra and I’m telling you now, DO IT!) in the refrigerator for a great rice salad for lunch the next day. So, the bit of time you invest making this will pay off during the week… leaving you more time to enjoy the fall colors or snuggle up in a sweater with a good book (hey, a girl can dream, can’t she??)!

Butternut Squash and Cranberry Pilaf
I used a wild rice mix from Trader Joe's but any one would work (except pre seasoned ones!). You will have more dressing than you need. Since the rice absorbs the dressing, you may want to add more the next day if having the pilaf as a salad.
Serves: 4 generous servings
  • 1 cup wild rice mix
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1½ cups butternut squash, cut into ½ inch cubes
  • 1 large onion, cut into ½ inch dice
  • 1 cup dried cranberries or dried cherries
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 3 Tbsp. canola oil
  • ¼ cup minced italian parsley
  • 1 cup citrus dressing
  1. Pre heat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a sheet pan with cooking spray. Add the butternut squash and toss with 1 Tbsp. canola oil Season with salt and pepper. Roast squash for 20 - 25 minutes or until softened and slightly caramelized. Remove from oven.
  2. While squash is roasting, combine the stock and rice in a large saucepan. Cover and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and simmer for 20 - 30 minutes until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender.
  3. While rice is cooking, heat a large saute pan over medium high heat. Add the 2 Tbsp. of canola oil. Add the chopped onions and saute for about 6 minutes until translucent. Reduce heat and continue to cook onions until slightly caramelized. Remove onions from the pan and set aside.
  4. Add pecans to saute pan and cook over medium heat, until toasted - watch closely so they don't burn!. Add the cooked rice, butternut squash, onions and dried cranberries. Drizzle with ¼ cup of the citrus dressing. Stir. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more dressing if needed. Garnish with minced parsley if desired. Serve!


  1. says

    This looks like the perfect dish for today… and you say it’s a lot of work – but it’s not – a roasted squash and some wild rice and a sauté pan! Bon appetite!

    • says

      Thanks Lucy!! You are right – it really isn’t but it does look that way.. totally pays off though if you get a couple of meals out of it!!

  2. says

    wow – it really is fall; cranberries and butternut squash. It doesn’t get more “harvesty” than that. I love the idea of incorporating it into your rice – something I need to keep in the back of my food brain! Looks delish – Nancy. And how ironic – it rained today!

    • says

      I know!! I love adding veggies/fruit to grain dishes – another great way to incorporate more fruits and veggies into the diet – love how they lighten the grains!!!

  3. says

    SO about this rain today. It’s sent both my husband and I in a tail spin. We both want to sit on the couch drinking hot chocolate eating junk food watching movies. This rice pilaf would be a much better choice, that’s for dang sure! It looks fab!

  4. says

    Oh, how colorful! And you have some of my favorite flavors in this pilaf. I do something similar to this for Thanksgiving stuffing so I’m sure I’d be a fan of your recipe as well.

  5. says

    It doesn’t feel at all like fall here, but we do have butternut squash at the farmers’ market. I love this mix of flavors and textures. This is a beautiful dish for fall!

    • says

      Thanks Lisa! I know – checked weather for Dallas next week (get to see my baby boy – WOO HOO!!) forecast is for a toasty 87 degrees…

  6. says

    Not only do I love to Pilaf, but you have helped me solve a mystery. Someone left a Napkin at my house at some food event we had here. It looks like it was yours as it is a perfect match in the picture! GREG

  7. says

    What a colorful and flavorful dish, Nancy. I’m always willing to spend a little extra time on a dish if it means that it’s going to taste great. If it stretches across a couple of meals, that’s even better. By the way, I think your photos are more and more beautiful every time I visit.

  8. says

    Sounds like a great combination of flavors. I’ve started cooking with butternut squash a lot more recently and am always looking for different recipe to incorporate it into. Have never made wild rice though — am curious to see how it tastes!

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