Vegan Fesenjan: Butternut Squash, Walnut and Pomegranate Stew


Growing up I decided that a lot of Persian food consisted of various mushy brown piles with unknown ingredients. A prime example is Fesenjan, a popular Persian dish that has wonderful, complex flavors and is crazy easy to make. Mushy brown pile = toasty walnuts pulsed in a food processor and sauteed onions coated in turmeric and cinnamon. Unknown ingredients = sweet and tart pomegranate molasses and what is typically slow cooked duck or chicken.


In my case I decided to sub in butternut squash for poultry and the result was amazing. I can’t emphasize enough how perfect this squash stew was. It’s naturally vegan and could be made gluten-free depending on the carb you serve it on. Easy, healthy, flavorful comfort food- and it makes great leftovers? This Vegan Fesenjan is definitely a new staple in my kitchen.


You’ll need:

  • 2 cups walnut halves, toasted and cooled
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • Olive oil
  • 0.5 teaspoon turmeric
  • 0.5 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Salt/pep
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed, and chopped
  • 2-3 cups vegetable stock
  • 0.25 cup pomegranate molasses
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2 cups farro (or quinoa or rice)
  • Handful of pomegranate seeds
  • Handful chopped fresh parsley


To Make:

  1. Pulse toasted walnuts in a food processor until they have the consistency of oats.
  2. Cook the farro according to package instructions.
  3. Heat a large skillet (I used a cast iron) with a few tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook for 8-10 minutes. Add the turmeric, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Stir and cook another minute.
  4. Add the squash and stir to coat. Add two cups of the vegetable stock and bring to boil.
  5. Reduce heat and stir in pomegranate molasses, honey and ground walnuts. Simmer, partly covered (I used a baking sheet as a lid), for 30 minutes until squash is cooked and desired thickness is reached. Add more stock if needed. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with pomegranate seeds and parsley and serve with farro.


Inspired by my Dad and TheMacadames


6 thoughts on “Vegan Fesenjan: Butternut Squash, Walnut and Pomegranate Stew

  1. A thousand times yes to this! Making it next week 😁 Only thing I am not familiar with is pomegranate molasses? Can I substitute it?

    • Thank you! Honestly pomegranate molasses is one of those tough things to substitute but you could try heating some pomegranate juice to reduce It and using that instead. Let me know how it turns out!

  2. Pingback: Easy Homemade Naan Bread | Roxana's Kitchen

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