Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole with Butternut Squash and Cranberries

One of my favorite vegetables is Butternut Squash! I think it just add this richness and warmth to any recipe! Mr. W doesn’t fall head over heels for it like I do but is a good sport in always trying out new recipes that I find. He gave this one a thumbs up! Imagine eating thanksgiving without all the fuss! That is what this recipe brings you.

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Now some people get scared because Butternut Squash can be quite intimidating but it’s really not. You can cook it in the instant pot or oven for soups but I cooked it on the stove for this recipe. When finding a good Butternut Squash you want to find one with a thick neck. That will give you the most meat whereas the bottom round part is full of seeds.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup uncooked wild rice blend (3 cups cooked)
  • Olive oil
  • 1.5 lbs chicken cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 butternut squash, about 1 1/2 pounds, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 5 cups cubes)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 TBS chopped fresh thyme (OR 1 tsp ground thyme) plus additional for garnish
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Cook the rice according to package directions. Drain off any excess cooking liquid and set aside. (If using instant pot, add 1 cup wild rice to 1 cup water. Add 1 tsp salt and 1 TBS olive oil. Cook on manual high pressure for 15 minutes. Allow to naturally release (~10 minutes). Fluff and hold until ready)
  2. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat a 9×13-inch baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
  3. In a large, deep skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. You may add seasoning salt and garlic for flavor. Add the diced chicken and sauté until the chicken is cooked through. Remove and set aside.
  4. With a paper towel, carefully wipe the skillet clean. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium. Add the diced squash, onions, salt, and pepper. Sauté until the onion begins to soften, about 2 minutes. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the squash is tender but still retains some chew, about 6-8 minutes. Stir in the thyme, cranberries, reserved chicken, rice, and 1/2 cup Parmesan.
  5. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, then remove from the oven and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. Bake 5 additional minutes, until the cheese melts. Sprinkle with additional chopped fresh thyme and serve warm.
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