Wild Rice Pilaf with Butternut Squash and Pecans

Wild Rice Pilaf with Butternut Squash and Pecans
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About This Recipe

As a Napa Valley local, I am always inspired by the beauty and bounty of my surroundings. It was on a crisp autumn day at the St. Helena Farmers' Market that I came up with the idea for this Wild Rice Pilaf with Butternut Squash and Pecans. The colors of the season were on full display, and I couldn't resist the allure of locally-grown butternut squash and freshly harvested pecans.

This dish is the epitome of Napa Valley's farm-to-table philosophy, incorporating fresh, local ingredients for a true taste of wine country. When you're serving this delicious pilaf, consider pairing it with a roasted chicken or grilled salmon for a complete meal. For a truly authentic Napa Valley experience, a glass of Napa Valley Chardonnay or Pinot Noir will complement this dish beautifully.

If you're looking for a local dessert to serve after this meal, I recommend trying our famous Napa Valley wine poached pears. The sweet and delicate flavors of the poached pears will be the perfect ending to your wine country-inspired dinner.

For the freshest ingredients, I suggest visiting one of our many farmers' markets or local farms in the area. Rutherford's Long Meadow Ranch is a great source for high-quality produce, including butternut squash and other seasonal vegetables. The Napa Valley Olive Oil Company, with locations in St. Helena and Napa, offers a wide selection of olive oils perfect for this recipe.

As you're exploring the beautiful Napa Valley, don't forget to stop by some of our world-renowned wineries. In addition to sampling our exceptional wines, you'll learn about the rich history of the region, its unique terroir, and the passionate winemakers who call Napa Valley home.

This Wild Rice Pilaf with Butternut Squash and Pecans recipe is a true celebration of Napa Valley's culinary heritage, blending the flavors of the season with the spirit of the wine country. I hope you enjoy making it as much as I enjoyed creating it. Happy cooking, and cheers to your Napa Valley-inspired culinary adventures!

Spotlight on Wild Rice – A Nutritional Powerhouse

Wild rice, the hero ingredient in our pilaf, isn't just a delicious grain; it's a nutritional star. Native to North America, this semi-aquatic grass offers a slightly chewy texture and a nutty flavor. More than just its taste, wild rice boasts a higher protein content compared to other whole grains. Rich in antioxidants, fiber, and essential minerals, it's a heart-healthy choice that elevates any dish.

How to Perfectly Cook Wild Rice

  1. Wash it Right: Start by rinsing wild rice under cold water using a fine-mesh strainer. This step removes any debris and helps in achieving a cleaner taste.
  2. Ratio Matters: Use a 1:3 ratio - for every cup of wild rice, you'll need three cups of liquid. This ensures perfectly cooked, non-mushy grains.
  3. Simmer Slowly: Once boiled, reduce the heat and let it simmer covered. Patience is key here. Wild rice takes longer to cook than its white or brown counterparts, typically around 45-50 minutes.
  4. Check for Doneness: The grains should burst open, revealing a tender inside. Remember, wild rice remains slightly chewy even when fully cooked.
  5. Drain Excess Liquid: After cooking, if there's any leftover liquid, drain it off to ensure that the texture remains perfect.

FAQs about Wild Rice Pilaf with Butternut Squash and Pecans

  1. Can I use another type of rice for this recipe? While wild rice brings a unique texture and flavor, you can substitute it with brown rice or farro. Adjust the cooking time as per the grain's requirement.
  2. How long will the pilaf last in the fridge? You can store the pilaf in an airtight container for up to 3-4 days in the refrigerator. When reheating, add a splash of water or broth to refresh the flavors.
  3. Are there any nut-free alternatives to pecans? For those with nut allergies, consider replacing pecans with roasted pumpkin or sunflower seeds. They'll provide a similar crunch without the allergens.
  4. How can I make this dish vegan? Easily make this pilaf vegan by ensuring your vegetable broth is free from animal products.
  5. What tools do I need for this recipe? You'll need a medium saucepan for cooking the wild rice, a baking sheet for roasting the butternut squash, and a large skillet for bringing everything together.

Tips for a Flawless Wild Rice Pilaf

  1. Roasting Perfection: For an enhanced caramelized flavor, ensure your butternut squash cubes are of even size. This ensures uniform cooking and a perfect texture.
  2. Garnish Galore: While parsley adds a fresh touch, consider also garnishing with grated orange zest or a sprinkle of feta cheese for added depth.
  3. Wine Pairing: This dish pairs beautifully with Napa Valley Chardonnay. The wine's crispness complements the earthiness of the wild rice and sweetness of the butternut squash.

By following these insights, tips, and techniques, you're well on your way to mastering a dish that captures the essence of Napa Valley's culinary heritage. Enjoy your Wild Rice Pilaf with Butternut Squash and Pecans and the flavors of wine country!

Recipe Overview

Wild Rice Pilaf with Butternut Squash and Pecans
Lily Anderson
6 servings
Calories Per Serving:
Prep Time:
Cook Time:
Total Time:

Ingredients List


  • 1 cup wild rice, rinsed
  • 3 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 2 cups cubed butternut squash
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Step-by-Step Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan, bring the wild rice and vegetable broth (or water) to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 45-50 minutes or until the rice is tender and has absorbed most of the liquid.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Place the butternut squash on a baking sheet, drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 25-30 minutes, or until the squash is tender and slightly caramelized.
  3. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 3-4 minutes, until softened. Stir in the cooked wild rice, roasted butternut squash, pecans, dried cranberries, thyme, salt, and pepper. Cook for another 2-3 minutes, until heated through.
  4. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley and serve immediately.

Share Your Results

Was it everything you dreamed it could be? Let me know how it turned out for you and share a picture on social media with the hashtag #LilyCooksNapa

Hello and welcome to Napa Home Chef! We're thrilled you're joining us to explore the vibrant world of wine country cooking. Our team has crafted bold, creative recipes inspired by Napa Valley's lush landscapes, bountiful harvests, and world-renowned wines. We hope you enjoy the journey with us!

Get ready to experience the rich flavors and unique culinary delights that embody the essence of wine country living. Happy cooking!

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