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Butternut Squash Pilaf
6min read

Butternut Squash Pilaf

by Iona Berry

6min read

Most of us grew up with meat as the hero of our meals and with vegetables taking up the mere corners of our plates. It can be hard to know where to start if you're trying to flip the script and cook plant based meals that don’t feel like just eating a plate full of sides. Building an exciting, yet satisfying meal around vegetables - whether that’s a bunch of carrots or a humble head of cauliflower - can sometimes feel like a little daunting and underwhelming task. 

Our new series, Veg and Two Veg is here to tackle just that and to explore all of the ways in which every day vegetables can be the star of the table without sacrificing flavour or heartiness. Whether you’re cooking for one or cooking for a bunch, these recipes will fill your table with vibrant, deeply flavoured and satisfying dishes that you’ll be making on repeat.

This full flavoured butternut squash is packed full of aromatic spices and plenty of fresh herbs that are a great contrast to the sweet roasted butternut squash. This dish makes a great addition to a middle eastern feast and is also great eaten hot or cold which is perfect if your guests turn up late for dinner. 

There are a few ways to ensure that your rice will be fluffy and delicious in this pilaf. First I think it’s really important to toast the rice in the oil and spices before adding any liquids, this ensures the rice keeps its structure and also adds to a nutty flavour. I also think it’s important to leave it to stand for 10 minutes before removing the lid, this makes sure the rice is fully cooked but ensures it won’t go soggy from overcooking. Don’t be tempted to boil the rice away and stir with a spoon as you will not get the rice that you want. 

Prep Time

10 mins

Cook Time

30 mins




Butternut Squash
1 small butternut squash (400g), chopped into cubes 
2 tbsp (15ml) olive oil 
½ tsp salt
1 tsp ground coriander 
1 tbsp (15ml) apple cider vinegar 

2 tbsp olive oil 
1 tsp ground cumin 
1 tsp coriander seeds 
1 tsp paprika 
1/4 tsp ground turmeric 
1 cup (210g) basmati rice 
1 ¼ cup water 
400g cooked tinned brown lentils 
1 tsp salt 
1 lemon, zested and juiced

Fresh mint, roughly chopped
Fresh parsley, roughly chopped
Crispy onions
Handful of chopped pistachios (or any nut of your choice)



Preheat the oven to 200˚C fan/220˚C conventional. 


In a bowl, whisk together the oil, apple cider vinegar, ground coriander and salt. Toss the cubes of the butternut squash in the marinade and then spread evenly over a baking tray. Roast for 25-30 minutes or until the butternut squash has some colour around the edges and is tender. 


Whilst the squash is roasting, prepare the pilaf. Heat the olive oil in a medium sized saucepan. Add the ground cumin, coriander seeds, ground turmeric, paprika and toast for 2-3 minutes.


Add the rice and salt and toast it for 2-3 minutes. Add the lemon zest and juice, along with the water and bring it to the boil. When it comes to a boil put a lid on and cook it for 10-12 minutes. Leave it to stand for 10 minutes before fluffing the rice with a fork. Remove cinnamon stick (if using) and adjust seasoning to your taste. 


Tip out the rice into a large serving bowl, top with the butternut squash and then top generously with the fresh herbs, crispy onions and chopped nuts. 


By Iona Berry
Iona Berry

Iona is our Development Chef, aka our go-to girl for developing, testing and tasting delicious dishes for you to all enjoy at home. When she’s not in the kitchen, you’ll find her either running or cycling, or trying out food markets and new restaurants around London. Continuous market research it would seem.

Read more from Iona

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