Persian Rice-Stuffed Butternut Squash (from 200 Best Sheet Pan Meals)

Persian Rice-Stuffed Butternut Squash (Sheet Pan Meals)

When I saw the premise of this cookbook, I was immediately intrigued: cook an entire meal on one pan, with only a single cooking dish to wash up? I’m sold! Hand me the recipes and point me toward the kitchen.

All of this cookbook’s recipes are straightforward and use ingredients you likely already have in your kitchen. I’ve been cooking my way through 200 Best Sheet Pan Meals by Camilla V. Saulsbury since early this month and I’ve enjoyed the Carrot Cake Breakfast Cookies, Persian Rice-Stuffed Butternut Squash, (modified) California Fish Tacos with Cucumber and Pineapple, and Huevos Rancheros Tortilla Tarts, among others.

One of my favourite recipes so far has been the Persian Rice-Stuffed Butternut Squash. Dense, sweet, creamy butternut squash halves are stuffed with cinnamon- and cumin-spiced brown rice that is studded with toasted pistachios, scallions and dried cherries. I love the texture contrasts and I could seriously eat this every day for lunch. Doesn’t it look gorgeous?

Persian Rice-Stuffed Butternut Squash

The 200 Best Sheet Pan Meals cookbook also includes a section called “25 Extra-Simple Pantry Meals” with recipes that use everyday items from the fridge, freezer or pantry. Of course, what makes for a well-stocked pantry at my house might vary from yours, but this section offers a great starting point for some of the simplest sheet pan meals.

One of my favourite bonuses is the “Sheet Pans 101” section. I wasn’t aware of the differences between a sheet pan and say, your basic cookie sheet.

(And this matters to me because as a writer and translator, writing precisely and choosing the correct word or term is pretty much how I spend my days!).

So, a sheet pan can also be known as a half sheet, a half-sized sheet pan or a half-size baking sheet, and it’s simply an 18” x 13” pan with a 1-inch rim. Some sheet pans come with a rack like this one (and a few of the recipes in this cookbook call for these) and/or a portable lid.

This is another great example of ‘healthy fast food’: cook a fabulous carrot cake on your sheet pan, cool it and top with a lid: your cake is ready for transport to your party, potluck or picnic!

California Fish Tacos with Cucumber and Pineapple

The California Fish Tacos with Cucumber and Pineapple resulted in perfectly cooked, perfectly flaky fish – my new favourite way to cook it! (I ate this with a side of broccoli because although I normally love EVERYTHING as a taco, I didn’t have any shells on hand – hence my modified version.

I would happily make these again with shells and all the toppings!)

If you’re anything like me, on a busy weeknight or midday lunch, you’ll be glad to have some more recipes that are easy and reliable up your sleeve. I can open the book and choose a recipe at whim, knowing that I’ll have a delectable, easy and often healthy recipe on the table quickly. Many of the recipes can also be readily adapted to suit your personal preferences, pantry or food allergies.

Best of all? In my experience, the sheet pan recipes in this book take advantage of the concentrated boosts in flavour that come naturally with oven cooking or roasting. That means maximum flavour with less work for you! A few of the ingredients seem a bit too “ready made” for my purposes as I tend not to buy very many pre-cooked or pre-packaged foods, even if they’re whole foods.

However, I recognize the need for them when you have a busy family and all-around busy LIFE! If you have more time, or if you prefer to make all your food from scratch, I believe most, if not all, of the recipes can be adapted to your kitchen and preferred cooking styles. This cookbook is ultimately very flexible. Now you can make one of my favourite recipes, the Persian Rice-Stuffed Butternut Squash, because I’m sharing the recipe below.  

Persian Rice-Stuffed Butternut Squash

Dried cherries, pistachios and ready-cooked rice make an easy, flavorful stuffing. Roasted butternut squash is the perfect cooking vessel, with extra-easy cleanup!

Course Side Dish
Servings 4 servings
Author Camilla Saulsbury


  • 2 butternut squash, halved lengthwise (2)
  • 4 tbsp olive oil, divided (60 mL)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped (1)
  • 1 12 oz/375 g package frozen brown rice, thawed (1)
  • 3/4 cup roasted pistachios or almonds, coarsely chopped (175 mL)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped green onions (125 mL)
  • 1/3 cup chopped dried cherries (75 mL)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon (5 mL)
  • 3/4 tsp ground cumin (3 mL)


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).

  2. Line an 18- by 13-inch (45 by 33 cm) rimmed sheet pan with foil or parchment paper.

  3. Using a metal spoon, scrape out seeds and membranes from squash halves. Using a sharp knife, score the flesh. Place squash, cut side up, on prepared pan, spacing evenly. Brush cut sides with 2 tbsp (30 mL) oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in preheated oven for 35 minutes.
  4. Remove pan from oven and add red pepper alongside squash. Drizzle pepper with 1 tbsp (15 mL) oil. Roast for 10 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine rice, pistachios, green onions, cherries, cinnamon, cumin and the remaining oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Remove pan from oven and spoon rice mixture into squash cavities. Roast for 15 to 18 minutes or until squash is fork-tender and stuffing is warmed through.

Recipe Notes

If packaged frozen rice is not available, substitute 2 cups (500 mL) cooled cooked brown rice.

Other dried fruits, such as cranberries, raisins or chopped apricots, can be used in place of the cherries.


Recipe excerpt and first post image are courtesy of 200 Best Sheet Pan Recipes by Camilla Saulsbury © 2016 Reprinted with publisher permission. Available where books are sold.

What’s your favourite speedy cooking technique? Let me know in the comments.

Life is a plate… Eat up!


Photography credit for the second and third images in the post: © Ashleigh Grange, 2016.

Disclaimer: I believe in full, clear and honest disclosure. I received an advance review copy of 200 Best Sheet Pan Meals courtesy of the publisher. The decision to write about this product was my own and you can trust that all opinions, comments and content, unless otherwise specified, are solely my own. The sponsor did not have the opportunity to read, review or comment on this before it was published, and no further compensation has been provided or solicited. This post may contain affiliate links, and you may click here for more details about that.

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