Healthy Butternut Squash Casserole With Sweet Potatoes and Rice (Vegan)
A healthy savory butternut squash casserole recipe sweetened with dried fruits and sweet potatoes, complemented by earthiness of brown / wild rice and finished with sweet balsamic notes. Enjoy this butternut squash casserole as a side dish or as main dish - either way - perfect for a holiday table.
Preheat oven to 400 F. Prepare a parchment paper lined baking sheet, the larger the better.
In a small bowl combine the oil, maple syrup, vinegar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
In a large bowl, combine cubed butternut squash (peeled and seeded), cubed sweet potatoes (peeled), and add half of the seasoned liquid mixture you made earlier, toss to mix.
Place the cubed veggies in a single layer on the baking sheet (use 2 baking sheets if necessary) to get an even roast on all sides. Bake for 30-35 minutes, turning once half-way through baking, until softened and with a golden brown crust.
Meanwhile cook the rice. Place the rinsed wild rice in a pot with boiling water ( if your rice is pre-soaked, use a 2 to 1 water-to-rice ratio, or 3 to 1 ratio if it's not).
To the rice then add the other half of oil and maple mixture, stir, cover the pot with the lid, and reduce the heat to its very lowest setting to help the rice cook evenly (for about 20 minutes). Remove from heat, add the cranberries and the raisins. Cover again and let it sit covered, so the steam will plump the rice and fruits. When ready, taste and see if it needs more salt.
The roasted butternut squash, sweet potatoes and rice will likely be ready at the same time. To arrange the meal and serve, take a taller baking dish (I used a glass dish) and place a layer of veggies, then a layer of rice and repeat until you fill up the dish.
If your ingredients are slightly underdone, cover the baking dish that you just assembled and place in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes. Serve warm, or let it cool and serve later.
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Tips For Making This Vegan Butternut Squash Casserole
To save time you can find at the grocery store - butternut squashes that have been peeled and chopped already.
When baking the butternut squash and sweet potato cubes take into account their size: if they're about 1 inch in size, you need to bake them 25 minutes at 400 F. Larger cubes, about 35 minutes. Bake until they're tender and lightly caramelized.
Cook the rice while the vegetables are roasting in the oven so you get them ready at the same time.
The brown rice cooks in shorter time than wild rice and may become too soft or mushy if you cook them together. Is best to start cooking the wild rice 5-7 minutes before adding the brown rice to the pot. To cut the cooking time in half, try to soak the rice a few hours before cooking (or overnight), especially the wild rice.
If your rice is pre-soaked the liquid to rice ratio should be 2:1; if it's dry then - 3:1. The rice is fully cooked when the grains are tender but still chewy and beginning to split. If there is any liquid left, drain it.
Ad-ins: this butternut squash and sweet potato casserole would be even more hearty if you add some nuts, seeds, herbs or even some protein like beans or meat (if you're not vegan). I even contemplated on adding some apple chunks, they would caramelize beautifully as well.
If you want to remove some of the oil and sugar that the dried fruits have been soaked in, then place them in water for an hour or so, and rinse several times. This will also help them be plump and juicy when added to the dish.