Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole with Butternut Squash and Cranberries

Eli Ben-Yehuda

Written by Eli Ben-Yehuda

On January 12, 2020

Chicken and wild rice casserole might sound boring, but this casserole is anything but. Fruit, veggies, protein, and grains come together in a convenient one-stop-shop dish for your busiest nights.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup uncooked wild rice blend (3 cups cooked)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 small butternut squash, about 1 1/2 pounds, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 5 cups cubes)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, plus additional for garnish
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries (I prefer the ones with reduced sugar)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided (about 2 ounces)
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Instructions:

1. Cook the rice according to package directions. Drain off any excess cooking liquid and set aside.

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. Add the diced chicken and sauté until the chicken is cooked through and no longer pink on the inside, about 6 minutes. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.

4. With a paper towel, carefully wipe the skillet clean. Heat the remaining 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 1/4 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 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Bake 5 additional minutes, until the cheese melts. Sprinkle with additional chopped fresh thyme and serve warm.

6. To freeze: Bake the casserole completely, then let cool to room temperature. Cover it tightly, then freeze for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then reheat, covered, in a 350-degree oven until warmed through.

7. You could also try freezing this chicken and wild rice casserole unbaked. Again, let thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then bake as directed.

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