This concept started out as a Thanksgiving stuffing recipe. It took a few twists and turns through the development process.
Here’s what we ended up with:
- Wild rice, tossed in a gingery dressing, plus some kale for extra green stuff and health bonus points
- Roasted butternut squash
- Red pomegranate, green onion, and crumbled goat cheese, which yield a festive color combination
- Pepitas (green pumpkin seeds), toasted with a little cinnamon for warming spice
I’m not sure what to call this situation. Can we call it a stuffing? Or is it a dressing? As a vegetarian, the distinctions are lost on me. Maybe it’s just a salad?
Here’s what I know for certain. This dish is a…
- Christmas-worthy, wildly colored main dish for vegetarians
- Healthy holiday side dish for all
- Special diet-friendly option, since it’s gluten free, nut free and easily dairy free/vegan
Before You Get Started
This dish is not quick or particularly easy. It requires a good amount of prep work and cook time. The components will take up space in the oven and on the stove. The holidays are a busy time, and I have some time-saving tips for you below.
This dish is, however, a gorgeous option that tastes wonderful. It will convince your friends that meatless mains can indeed be filling and delicious.
If you’ll be a guest at a holiday feast, this would be a beautiful option to bring with you in fully assembled form.
You can make this recipe a day in advance. Carefully cover it before refrigerating, and let it warm to room temperature before serving.
How to Save Time
If you’re looking for shortcuts, here are some options:
- Buy pre-cut butternut squash
- Buy pomegranate arils that have already been removed from the fruit, or substitute dried cranberries
- Skip the kale—it’s not integral to the recipe, but I think it’s nice
- Cook the wild rice in an Instant Pot to save 10-20 minutes cooking time
You might also be surprised to see that I didn’t peel the butternut squash. That’s right—you don’t have to! Once cooked, the skin becomes almost as tender as the flesh. I don’t think anyone will notice it.
Please let me know how this recipe turns out for you in the comments! I hope you love this one.
Looking for more holiday-worthy recipes? This roundup features main dishes and side dishes that would be worthy of any fall/winter feast. This roundup features wholesome sweets, snacks and appetizers.
Roasted Butternut Squash, Pomegranate and Wild Rice “Stuffing”
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 50 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
- Yield: 6 to 12 servings 1x
- Category: Main dish or side
- Method: Various
- Cuisine: American
This vibrant vegetarian stuffing recipe features roasted butternut squash, kale, pomegranate and wild rice. It’s a beautiful dish for your holiday table! This recipe yields 6 to 12 servings (a lot!). You can cut this recipe in half, if desired.
Wild Rice* and Toppings
- 2 cups wild rice, rinsed
- 4 ounces kale, ribs removed and chopped small (preferably the Tuscan variety, about ½ bunch or 2 cups)
- ¾ cup chopped green onion (from 1 large or 2 medium bunches), divided
- 4 ounces goat cheese (about ⅔ cup crumbled)
- Arils from 1 medium pomegranate, or ½ cup chopped dried cranberries
- ½ cup raw pepitas (green pumpkin seeds)
- 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Roasted Butternut Squash
- 1 small-to-medium (2 to 2 ½ pounds) butternut squash, cut into ¾-inch cubes
- 1 ½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper for easy clean-up, if desired.
- Cook the wild rice: Bring a large pot of water to boil (or see Instant Pot option provided in notes). Add the rinsed rice and continue cooking, reducing heat as necessary to maintain a lively simmer, for 40 minutes to 55 minutes. It’s done when the rice is pleasantly tender but still offers a light resistance to the bite. Remove from heat, drain the rice and return the rice to the pot.
- Meanwhile, roast the butternut: Place the cubed butternut squash on your rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle it with the olive oil and sprinkle with the salt. Toss until the cubes are lightly and evenly coated in oil. Arrange them in a single layer and roast for 35 to 50 minutes, tossing after 20 minutes, until they are starting to turn golden on the edges and tender when pierced through with a fork.
- While the wild rice and butternut cook, prepare all of the remaining components. Chop the kale and green onion, remove the arils from the pomegranate, and whisk together all of the dressing ingredients in a small bowl.
- To toast the pepitas, combine the pepitas, 1 teaspoon olive oil, ¼ teaspoon each salt and cinnamon in a small skillet. Stir to combine, and cook over medium heat until the pepitas are starting to turn golden on the edges and making little popping noises, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and set aside.
- When the wild rice is finished cooking and still warm, stir in the kale, half of the green onions, and all of the ginger dressing. Spread the mixture over a large serving platter (or use a large serving bowl, if need be).
- Arrange the butternut squash over the wild rice mixture. Crumble the goat cheese on top with a fork. Top with the pomegranate arils, toasted pepitas, and the remaining green onions. Serve.
- This salad is good warm or at room temperature. It will keep well in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Gently reheat leftover servings in the microwave, if desired.
*Wild rice note: You’ll see a wild rice blend in my photos, but after further testing I recommend using regular wild rice instead. If you would like to go ahead and use wild rice blend anyway, cook it according to the package directions.
Make it quick: Instead of preparing the butternut squash and pomegranate yourself, buy pre-cut options instead. Use two 12-ounce bags of pre-sliced butternut and 1 cup pomegranate arils. Or, use dried cranberries instead of pomegranate. You can cook the wild rice more quickly if you have an Instant Pot (see below).
Instant Pot option: Add the wild rice and 2 ½ cups water to the Instant Pot. Secure the lid and move the steam release valve to Sealing. Select the Manual/Pressure Cook option and cook on high pressure for 22 minutes. When the cooking cycle is complete, let the pressure naturally release for 10 minutes, then move the steam release valve to Venting to release any remaining pressure. When the floating valve drops, remove the lid and give the rice a stir. Remove the pot from the heat, and stir in the ginger dressing, kale, and half of the green onion while the rice is still warm.
Change it up: Substitute sweet potato for the butternut, or 1 to 2 cloves garlic for the ginger. Any whole grain will work in place of the wild rice—farro would be good, or maybe quinoa. If you don’t like goat cheese, try feta. Don’t love kale? Omit it altogether or substitute a few handfuls of arugula instead. Love kale? I think you could use the full bunch, no problem. Instead of pepitas, you could use pistachios or pecans (toasted then chopped).
Make it dairy free/vegan: Simply omit the goat cheese (or serve it on the side if accommodating guests with different dietary restrictions/preferences). You might like to serve individual servings with a dollop of vegan sour cream to make up for goat cheese’s creamy, tangy qualities.
As a FYI, Stuffing is what is made intending to be cooked (stuffed) inside of a’ and dressing is what’s cooked in a baking dish or on the stove and served alongside something to “dress it up”.
Thanks for sharing, Raven! :)
Dammit, I thought I had all my Christmas menu planning done (five salads isn’t too much, right?:)) but this looks so delicious I must add it! Although it would be great in winter too, I think it will go beautifully with other cold dishes for our New Zealand summer Christmas. I plan to use my go-to grain freekeh.
Sounds like the perfect amount, Sasha! Thanks for your comment.
hi there can i use something other than ginger in the dressing? i really dont like ginger.
Hey, yes, just substitute a clove of garlic or two—or you can skip them both.
I made this for Boxing Day and it was most delicious and looked gorgeous. I added some cubed organic beetroot which I roasted along side the pumpkin, and a few roast whole garlic cloves. I have never used pomegranate in a salad before, but that’s history now because I fell in love first mouthful. The dressing was sensational I followed it exactly and blitzed it in the vitamix. Thank you for the inspiration I truely appreciate it. This dish simply is zinging!!
I will definitely make this. As far as dressing vs stuffing is concerned, if you stuff it in the bird it’s stuffing. If you bake it in a dish it’s dressing.
Thanks for sharing, Hansi!
I had most ingredients on hand so I made this tonight. Brown rice mix from trader Joe’s instead of wild rice and spinach instead of kale. Everyone loved it, thanks for another great recipe!
You’re welcome! I’m glad you had most of the ingredients on hand, Janel.
Making this for Xmas dinner…looks wonderful. Tip on the ginger…
My mom always freezes her ginger (and turmeric)… makes it super easy to grate and the peel naturally stays on the wrong side of the grater…
Thank you for sharing, June!
Question, I want to double the recipe but your squash doesn’t increase when doubled. Should I? I plan to serve this as a side dish to leg or lamb (no judgement please). Should I do the ginger dressing or sub garlic?
Yes, please do! I’m not sure what is happening there. But if doubling, double everything. As for serving with a meat dish, I’m not the expert there :)
Another winner Kate! Everyone loved this as a side on Christmas Eve. Since there were 18 of us, I doubled the recipe and prepared the ingredients separately the night before. So glad you mentioned that this takes time. It was easy to prepare. I intentionally undercooked the squash so that it didn’t turn to mush when I reheated in the oven at 300 after coming to room temp while the rest of my dinner cooked. I then layered the rice, squash, pepitos, Pom seeds and goat cheese on a white platter. I waited until then to add the dressing. Not sure I’d do it that way again but I’m not sure when the best time is to dress when cooking ahead of time. Thoughts? We’ve been eating the leftovers cold and they are delicious. Next time I think I’ll use feta since it holds up better. I love wild rice and this is a wonderful beautiful treat of a dish!
I made this tonight for my family!! Definitely a keeper!! Yum!
Hooray! That’s great to hear, Kari. Thanks for trying it and leaving a review.
Just made this for dinner! I substituted cranberries for the arils and sweet potato for the butternut squash because that’s what I had on hand. It was absolutely delicious – a meal in itself. This makes a large amount which is great for leftovers. I don’t have to cook tomorrow!
I’m glad you loved it with sweet potato and cranberries! I appreciate your review, Linda.
Just made this for dinner and intentionally made lots of extra for leftovers. It was a big hit even with those who normally don’t like butternut squash or ginger! Will happily be eating this for lunch tomorrow again.
We’ll be driving all day Christmas Eve, so today is my only chance to make my Christmas dinner contribution. Would it be bad to make this dish two days in advance? Will the rice get crunchy?
I would wait to assemble the parts once you arrive to your location and they have been gently reheated. I hope this helps!
A feast for the eyes, taste buds and body – this is the best thing I have eaten in months! Thanks for sharing your culinary treasures.
I’m happy you loved it, Ann!
Hi Kate! I’ve been following your blog for ages and everything I make is a big hit! This was no exception. I used sweet potatoes instead of butternut squash, and (fresh) burst cranberries instead of pomegranate seeds. Turned out amazing!!! Thank you so much!
I love to hear that, Bianca! Thanks so much for sharing.
Please add my 5star rating to previous comment
Thank you, Linda!
Delicious and looks very festive!
I couldn’t find wild rice and made it with black rice, which gave a perfect chew. Substituted pecans for pepitas, arugula for kale, used both butternut squash+sweet potato and added a clove of garlic and additional 1/2 tbsp maple syrup. It was very well received at Christmas dinner and everyone asked for the recipe. Thank you Kate!
Thank you for sharing, Venna! I’m happy you loved it and were able to make it work.
I made this for Christmas dinner and used black rice, since I had that on hand. It was excellent! I also had Trader Joe’s goat cheese with dried cranberries which was terrific in the salad. Thanks for the inspiration!
This one is a bit labor intensive, but can be easier and is yummy. I pulled the pomegranate arils on Christmas Eve and washed and chopped the kale. I also toasted the pumpkin seeds, cut the onions and grated the ginger all the night before. I purchased precut squash. So on Christmas morning I cooked the rice and roasted the squash, then pulled it all together. Everyone commented on how pretty it was. I really enjoyed it and have been eating it for the last few days. It makes a ton of food! I really like it, and would make it again. It does take a commitment.
My husband and I made this as a side dish for Christmas and it was very well-received! We will definitely make it again.
YES Kate, this looks delicious!! Without meaning to offend (I promise), I’ve felt like you’ve been phoning it in a bit over the past year or so – nearly all super simple recipes, turning parts of dishes into their own posts, reposting old recipes etc. – but I really can’t wait to make this one. Thank you for this beautiful recipe and I hope to see lots more like this in 2020!
This was delicious! I’m not a fan of goat cheese so I used feta cheese instead and it was so good! Definitely going to make this again :)
This dish is everything you want it to be! It is a feast for the eyes and your taste buds. I made it for Christmas dinner and received so many compliments and requests for the recipe. It is indeed a bit labor intensive, but can be easily managed by preparing parts ahead of time (pomegranates, pepitas, kale). I was unable to find precut squash, but would highly recommend using that too if you’re looking for shortcuts. It’s a wonderful recipe, Kate. Thank you!
Hooray! Thank you for sharing, Julia.
Wow! I used a mix of wild and brown rice, and used dried ground ginger in the dressing, since I lost my fresh ginger root between the grocery store and home. It came out amazing. This will be a frequently made dish in our home from now on.
Have family in for the holidays, our daughter is vegan. We made this to the recipe (without the goat cheese), it is so outstanding and beautiful plated. The ginger dressing just makes this dish!! We served it with breaded tofu fingers, it was a great paring and totally delicious. Thank you for sharing this recipe.
Happy New Year!
Tricia and Family
This is a beaut recipe, made it yesterday and the family loved it. What was intended to last two days – didn’t.
Need I say more/
I made this exactly as described and it was amazing! Pre-cut butternut squash and packaged pomegranate arils from Trader Joe’s were huge timesavers, as well as using my Instant Pot. I didn’t even use this as a side dish but ate it as an entree for a few days. :) I loved the subtle ginger and cinnamon flavors, and it was very hearty and satisfying. Thanks for this one!
One of my favorites ever! Absolutely delicious.
Great to hear, Michelle!
This is a gorgeous looking and tasting dish. I served it as a side, with chopped parsley instead of kale, on Christmas Eve, sent leftovers home with a friend who raved about it and ate it for breakfast next day. I’ve already made it again because my husband asked for it. He loves it as dinner all by itself. A true winner. Well done!
Thank you, Sheila!
This is delicious and easily customizable. I am not a fabulous cook and usually don’t subscribe to food blogs but I find myself returning to yours. I guess my comment is your doing something right lady!
I’m glad you loved this one and keep coming back to the blog, Christa! I appreciate your comment and review.
Just bought everything to make this. I did not buy kale. I’ve tried it many times just can’t do it.
I’m gonna throw in some green beans
I love your recipes! Thank you
I hope you enjoy this one, Karen!
This sounds so good! Do you think I could sub powdered stevia for the maple syrup or is there another substitution you can recommend?
Thanks Cheyenne! I’ve not worked with stevia, but I think it would work. Or, try reducing the vinegar and skipping the sweetener altogether.
I was looking for a colorful and, of course, yummy side dish and your “stuffing” was a big hit! It does require a little more effort, but the flavor and “table appeal” was so worth it. Another favorite thanks to you!
I subbed wild rice for black rice (as it’s what I had on hand), and I need to say that this recipe is just perfect. So delicious, flavourful, and wholesome. Just perfect! Thank you so much!
I don’t normally leave comments on recipes tried, but in this case, I have to give credit where credit is due. This recipe is AMAZING. I made this for a birthday dinner and everyone went back for seconds. Thank you! Also your hummus recipe is fantastic, since I’m here commenting haha.
Amazing!! So incredibly flavorful. A must re-do.
Wonderful! Thank you for your review.
Just came back from the UP with bags of wild rice. I used feta, didn’t have pepitas, so I put the cinnamon on the squash (which worked perfectly – yum), left out the kale (saving that for the goats). Every flavor remains distinct and plays off each other so well: cinnamon, feta, pomegranate, ginger. I made it for my gf and she was head over heels. A fantastic recipe. (period) She guessed cookieandkate before I told her where I found the recipe. thx
I made this for Christmas and it looked beautiful and tasted great. I just realized that in the rush I forgot the goat cheese so I’ll add it now- I’m having the leftovers warmed up and they’re yum, almost like a special fried rice. Just one comment, I cooked the rice in the pressure cooker but it was a little gluggy when it was done, is it supposed to be? Next time I might use 2 C water instead of 2-1/2. Thank you for a great recipe. Happy New Year!
Hi! I’m sorry your rice wasn’t perfect. It should be fluffy.
Another fantastic meal! We had it as an entree. It did take a little time to prepare, but it was so worth it. The dressing was outstanding, and I will probably use it on salads, etc.
I absolutely loved this dish! It tasted delicious and looked beautiful too. I’m not a fan of goat cheese so I substituted feta. It is well worth making and not as difficult as I was anticipating. I will be making this again. Thank you for this wonderful recipe.
Thank you for sharing, Laura! I appreciate your review.
Always a family fave, going back some time now. Your followers here in Manhattan wish you the best of luck with your delivery—and for a perfect little girl! Hope the dogs can handle it!
I’m happy to hear this is a favorite for your family! Thank you for your review.
Always a family fave, going back some time now. Your followers here in Manhattan wish you the best of luck with your delivery—and for a perfect little girl! Hope the dogs can handle it!
Thank you, Elizabeth!
I love all your recipes, but THIS is my fave! And it’s what I’ll make for my friend with leukemia when our night comes to bring his family food because it’s FULL of great nutrients.
You’re site is my go to for easy-to-make, healthy yummy family meals. Thanks for all you do!!!
I hope your friend enjoys it, Dave! Thank you for your review.
I make this every Thanksgiving! Perfect entree for the vegetarians, a great side for the rest of us, and I love the color it adds to the table!
I’m glad it’s a regular Thanksgiving recipe, Christina! I appreciate your review.
This is an award-winning recipe!! Made it for Thanksgiving and was very impressed with it. I made no adjustments to the original recipe and feel confident to bring this dish to any gathering or serve it myself! Many thanks to you for such a delicious recipe! I am a big fan and love your cookbook too!!
You’re welcome, Ava! I appreciate your review.
Brenda D Stewart
this recipe was a hit with myself and my friends. I could eat it every day. I served it with baked chicken ( I know, your recipes are vegetarian) and just mixed the left over chicken and “stuffing” together for lunch the next 2 days. Just an incredible and original tasting blend of flavors. And nutritious too!
Is this recipe in your cook book?
This was totally delicious and surprisingly easy to make! Thanks for the recipe! I ended up using feta instead of goat cheese (that’s all I had left) and it tasted wonderful.
This was delicious! I made for a holiday party and everybody loved it. The ginger made it amazing. I cooked the kale first since I don’t like the taste of it raw.
That’s great, Mara! Thank you for sharing.
Excellent recipe!! Thank you! I appreciate your work and website!
Thank you, Laura! I appreciate your support.
This makes an absolutely visually stunning presentation! Made this as a salad for a holiday family gathering, and it was simply beautiful on the platter. Used lots of spinach insetad of kale (probably doubled the amount) and reduced the amount of green onion for those with digestive issues. I had intended to use toasted pecans instead of pepitas, but ran out of time, so just omitted them. I peeled the squash before roasting. The only thing I actually measured were the ingredients for the dressing. I made everything a day ahead and simply layered it on the day, serving at room temperature. It was actually pretty easy. The extra day gives the flavors in the rice dressing time to permeate, and leftovers the following week were just as flavorful and fresh. Everyone loved it! Will definitely be making this again for potlucks, especially when I have vegetarian and gluten-sensitive guests attending!
One of our new favorites, it’s delicious as is!
Thank you for sharing, Jessica!
This is delightful, although I’d say it’s too complex and time consuming to make as a simple side! I think a big batch of this would be perfect to take when traveling to visit out of town family – it’s a festive and healthy one-pot meal.
Your recipes sound exciting. Can’t wait to make one!
Oh my God Kate. This was absolutely delicious! I used cranberries because I couldn’t find Arils. Every bite was a perfect harmony of crunch and savory, sweet and tangy. The blend of all the ingredients together tasted incredibly flavorful, wow! Thank you for yet another perfectly delicious recipe.
I’m glad you loved it, Patty!
This salad is one of my favorites for winter time. I made it for thanksgiving last year and everybody loved it. I will make it tomorrow too. So delicious, thank you for the recipe!
You’re welcome, Eylem! I’m glad it will be a regular.
This recipe was delicious! We used Feta cheese and brown rice. We made it for Thanksgiving and it was a hit! I can’t wait to make it for Christmas dinner!
Our vegetarian cousins brought this dish to Thanksgiving. It was so beautiful and delicious. I can’t wait to make it for Christmas.
I hope it’s a hit, Shauna! I appreciate your comment.
I have made this recipe so many times- both for Christmas and for other “company” dinners and I’ll be making it again today. It’s beautiful to look at and is always a hit. I have added various toppings at one point or another: tossed lentils or boiled tempeh with the wild rice before dressing, roasted chickpeas with the squash for the last few minutes, toasted pecans instead of pumpkin seeds, subbed arugula for my daughter who hates kale, LOL. I have cooked vegetarian for 40 years and you consistently have great recipes. Thank you!
Can we make this with farro instead of wild rice? If so is it 1:1 replacement?
You can try it!