This gingery roasted butternut squash rice with onions and peas has both savory and sweet notes. It’s a perfect side dish for the fall months, and it’s really easy to make.
I’ve always loved butternut squash. I eat it year round, but I get especially excited about it in the fall, when it starts to find its way into a lot of my meals. I add it to vegan risotto, soup, chili, pizza, and even nachos.
I love winter squash so much that it tends to outshine any other ingredient in any recipe. But there are a lot of other great components to this gingery butternut squash rice, too. There are sweet, bright green peas, which offset all of the other, earthy ingredients.
There’s onion, which adds savoriness to the rice. And there’s apple, which gets roasted along with the butternut squash. Apple + squash is one of my favorite autumn pairings, and it’s on great display in this recipe.
The rice dish has relatively simple ingredients, but each of them is purposeful.
The butternut squash adds nutrition, color, sweetness, and satisfaction to an otherwise simple rice pilaf. You can use pre-cut squash from the store, break down a squash yourself, or even use frozen squash chunks. Any of those options is fine!
Onion is here to add a savory quality to the rice. I cut my onion into 1-inch pieces, so that they’re almost the same size as the apple and squash pieces. This ensures that the ingredients roast evenly.
I love using roasted apple in savory fall dishes! It adds mellow sweetness with deep flavor.
You can use any type of apple for the recipe. I like roasting honeycrisp, gala, and Jonagolds.
Fresh, minced ginger gives the rice dish a more complex flavor profile and a zippy edge. If you don’t have fresh ginger, you can substitute a teaspoon of ground ginger with the roast vegetables.
Though peas are really a springtime vegetable, I keep a bag of frozen ones in my freezer at all times. I love peas, and in this recipe, they add freshness and color.
I use some salt for roasting the vegetables and apple for the butternut squash rice. However, tamari is the main source of salt. I like that it adds saltiness as well as umami, and because it’s liquid, it’s easy to stir into the prepared rice.
If you don’t have tamari, you can use Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or nama shoyu instead.
Very few of my recipes are complete without some acid, and the butternut squash rice is no exception. I know that two types of vinegar (plain rice vinegar and apple cider) seems fussy, but really, they add different flavor here! I like to use them both. If you don’t have one of them in your pantry, it’s OK to omit.
A while back, I stumbled on this method of cooking short grain brown rice (boiling it, like pasta!) and I haven’t looked back. That’s how I call for the rice to be prepared in this recipe.
If you have another rice cooking method that you love, you can use it for your rice cookery instead. And while we’re on the topic, you can substitute long-grain white or brown rice for the short grain brown rice if you wish to.
The butternut squash rice leftovers will keep for up to five days in an airtight container in the fridge. They also freeze really well! You can freeze the leftovers for up to six weeks and enjoy them for future meals.
To make meal prep for the recipe a little easier, you can roast the vegetables or cook the rice ahead of time. Doing either step in advance will make assembly of the rice a bit easier.
On it’s own, the rice is a great side dish. With a salad, it’s a nice, light meal.
To make it a power plate, you can add a protein source to the rice! Try some lemon pepper tempeh cubes, balsamic mustard baked tempeh, tempeh croutons, balsamic tofu, chickpeas, white beans, or lentils.
If the butternut rice inspires you to make a few more butternut-themed autumn recipes, here are a few of my favorites:
You really can’t go wrong with this dish. It’s warming, cozy, and delicious. The ginger is subtle, but it brightens everything in the recipe. And while the rice takes a little while to cook, it’s mostly inactive work (roasting and boiling).
Hope you’ll add this to your fall recipe wish list!