Dried sweet cherries and roasted butternut squash add a hint of sweetness to this savory wild rice stuffing. Vegan + Gluten-free. This post is sponsored by Northwest Cherry Growers.
I teamed up with the Northwest Cherry Growers to create this wild rice stuffing recipe so the dried sweet cherries are the true star here. Not only for their sweet taste, but for the nutritional benefits they provide as well. I’m sure you’re aware that cherries are good for you, but did you know that they’re lower on the glycemic index than almost any other fruit, as well as, a good source of potassium, fiber, antioxidants and melatonin? Studies have shown that cherries may help reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes and their anti-inflammatory properties can help control arthritis and gout.
I personally wasn’t aware that cherries were a good source of melatonin, but now I’m definitely bringing some dried sweet cherries as a travel snack for our trip to Israel. (We leave TODAY!?!) Hopefully they’ll help combat the crazy jet lag we’re likely to encounter.
In other news, I can’t believe I’m sharing a Thanksgiving recipe right now. It’s crazy town how fast time flies by. It feels like yesterday we were celebrating the 4th of July. That said, I’m officially excepting that it’s November and time to start preparing for the holidays — first up, Thanksgiving!
When it comes to Thanksgiving dinner the sides have always been my favorite part. Well… maybe dessert then the sides because Thanksgiving desserts are seriously the best.
The funny thing is that although I love Thanksgiving sides, I’ve never been fond of stuffing. Wet bread just isn’t appealing to me and don’t even get me started about stuffing that’s actually cooked inside the turkey. Why is this a thing?!? Even Alton Brown doesn’t recommend it.
What I’m getting at is that traditional bread stuffing isn’t my jam, but I can totally get down with some herby, rice stuffing. Probably because it’s similar to grain bowls and grain-based salads, two things I adore.
This particular stuffing is quite lovely because the base is a wild rice blend with five different types of rice, which offers a nutty flavor and a variety in texture. It’s also loaded with fresh herbs, roasted squash and dried cherries for a host of flavors that complement one another.
So if you’re in the middle of planning your Thanksgiving menu this year I highly recommend skipping the traditional bread stuffing and trying this wild rice stuffing instead. I think you and your family will love it!
And if you’re in need of some additional Thanksgiving ideas, be sure to check out this kale and Brussels sprout salad (I make it every year), my sweet potato casserole, this lentil loaf (perfect for a vegetarian main), these green beans with caramelized shallots and this vegan + gluten-free apple crisp. And keep your eyes peeled because I have another Thanksgiving dessert recipe coming soon as well!
Wild Rice Stuffing with Butternut Sqush and Cherries
- 4 cups butternut squash, peeled and chopped into small chunks
- 2 Tablespoons + 1 teaspoon coconut oil or ghee (divided)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 2 cups wild rice blend
- 1 32 ounce container (about 4 cups) of vegetable broth or chicken broth
- 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh sage, divided
- 2 teaspoon fresh thyme, divided
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup dried sweet cherries
- sea salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Place butternut squash chunks on a baking sheet with 1 teaspoon coconut oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and toss to combine. Roast for about 30 minutes, or until butternut squash is tender. Tossing once around the 15 minute mark.
- While squash is roasting, cook rice. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add garlic, celery, onion and garlic to the pan; toss and add 1 teaspoons sea salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Sauté for about 10 minutes. Stir in wild rice, broth, 1 Tablespoons sage, 1 teaspoon thyme and bay leaf. Bring mixture to a boil.
- Cover, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 40-45 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat. Toss and remove bay leaf, then let the rice cool for about 5 minutes. Stir in cherries, roasted squash and reserved sage and thyme. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if needed.
Learn more about the benefits of sweet cherries in the infographic below while checking out a fun cherry pie recipe:
If you make this wild rice stuffing let me know how it turns out in the comment section or share a photo on social media. Just be sure to tag me (@eatingbirdfood + #eatingbirdfood) so that I see it!