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Butternut Squash and Brown Rice Dressing Recipe

I’m really excited that Thanksgiving is just around the corner.  It’s one of my favorite holidays due to its food-centric nature.  Today I’ve got a great recipe for you for your Thanksgiving dressing repertoire – a butternut squash and brown rice dressing recipe.  It’s very healthy and totally delicious.   And you can use it as a side dish or stuff it into your Thanksgiving bird – if you’re into that sort of thing.

Butternut Squash and Brown Rice Dressing

Since this is a rice dish, and I’m from South Louisiana, I decided to make this using a jambalaya-style method.  This means it is cooked on the stove top, and the rice is basically steamed for an hour in the pot.  It’s a pretty easy dish to cook and includes some classic jambalaya ingredients.  However, this dish is vegan – nothing but flavor and plant-based products here.  But that’s not to say you can’t add in a little sausage if that’s your thing.  That would be totally tasty!

This dressing starts how all good jambalayas start – with the trinity of seasonings: onion, celery and bell pepper.  In this dish I’ve used red bell pepper instead of green.  One reason was the prettier color, but the second reason is that red bell peppers are slightly sweeter and pair better with butternut squash, in my opinion.  In South Louisiana, this “holy trinity” as it’s called is the basis for many of our dishes such as gumbo, jambalaya and étouffée.

The Trinity - onion, celery, bell pepper

The next main ingredient to showcase is our delectable butternut squash.  I’ve made just a couple of butternut squash recipes this year, but next year I really want to do many more of them.  I follow a number of blogs that posted some fantastic recipes that have provided me lots of inspiration for what can really be done with this delicious squash.

Below you see the progression of how I’ve cleaned and diced the butternut squash.  It’s a pretty easy squash to work with – it just takes a little patience and time to clean the squash.  I first split the squash in half length-wise (as you see below) then cut the squash at the point where it changes from skinny to bulbous.  Next I carefully remove the outer peeling. Taking this extra step in cutting the squash into four pieces helps to make it much easier to peel.

Sequence of Butternut Squash Processing

I also used fresh sage in this dish.  Since we’re now growing some in our garden, it was very easy to procure what I needed for this dish.  You can use dried sage if that’s all you have, but I would cut it down to about two teaspoons instead of tablespoons.  The dried herb is more concentrated in flavor so you definitely don’t need to use as much as you do of the fresh version.  Sage is very pungent, and you don’t want to risk over-flavoring the dish with it.  To me, sage needs to be well-balanced in order to not be over-bearing.

Fresh Sage Leaves

Next let’s talk a little about the rice. I’ve used brown rice in this recipe because I’m slowly moving us away from white starches. Rice is an easy one to switch over from so that’s why you’ve seen me using it more recently. The hour that the rice is on the stove is definitely enough time to get it soft and palatable. Under-cooked brown rice is very unpleasant so I’m careful to make sure it is cooked for a long enough duration.

Bowl of Brown Rice

Finally, when cooking in a jambalaya-style method, it’s very important that you follow the steps laid out below.  Once you have all of the ingredients in the pot and you put the dish to simmer with the pot closed, you do not want to keep opening and stirring the ingredients.  You actually only stir once in this recipe and that’s just to mix in the green onions.  Also, after this dish is done, it’s best to allow it to sit an additional fifteen minutes off the heat so that the rice can finish steaming and the dish can cool just a little.

Butternut Squash and Brown Rice Dressing

Now that we’ve walked through it all, on to the recipe!

Yield: 8 main; 12 side servings

Butternut Squash and Brown Rice Dressing Recipe

This rice dressing recipe features butternut squash, garlic, sage and brown rice. It's a healthy vegan dish that's also packed with flavor. Makes a great side dish or stuffing for a Thanksgiving turkey.


  • 1/4 cup light olive oil
  • 2 cups diced onion
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 6 cups diced butternut squash (about 3 pounds) - 1/2" cubes (peeled and deseeded beforehand)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh sage
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups brown rice
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onion


  1. Heat olive oil over medium high heat in a soup-style pot (you will need the lid later).
  2. Add onions, celery, red bell pepper and kosher salt. Cook five minutes until vegetables soften a bit and onions are translucent.
  3. Next add the garlic. Stir until well mixed and cook until garlic is fragrant, about one minute.
  4. Then add the butternut squash and sage. Mix well then add the water and teaspoon of kosher salt.
  5. Turn heat to high and bring the water up to a boil then add the rice.
  6. Once the mixture returns to a boil, lower the heat to medium-low and cover the pot.
  7. Cook for 20 minutes. Do not open the pot during this time.
  8. After 20 minutes, stir in the green onion. Re-cover the pot and cook for another 35 minutes.
  9. Remove from heat and allow to sit for another 15 minutes to absorb any remaining liquid.

Prep:45 min

Cook:1 hour 30 min

Total:2 hour 15 min

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