This acorn squash wild rice salad is packed with roasted vegetables, wild rice and coated in a tangy citrus dressing. It's a tasty but light combination of fall and late summer flavors, perfect for any meal.
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Acorn squash is one of the squash family I have used much less and would rarely have chosen to buy in the past. While the flesh is a pretty color, I could rarely get past the fact it was a pain in the neck to peel.
Plus, it doesn't have that rich sweetness like butternut which is easier to like. So when I tried using acorn squash in a similar way, I was pretty disappointed.
But I think that's the key: it's not butternut so don't expect to like-for-like substitute it.
Use it in recipes in it's own right, and that has brought about much more successful results (like these acorn squash gnocchi and apple and acorn squash soup). This acorn squash wild rice salad was definitely one of them.
Having looked around at recipes, I came across a couple that were either acorn squash stuffed with or served with wild rice. It sounded a tasty combination, and this acorn squash wild rice salad recipe is what I came up with to be a little easier to eat.
I could imagine food flying everywhere if I gave my toddler a stuffed half squash. Big slices would not be much better.
It turned out to be a nice mix of flavors, comforting but not too heavy thanks to both the rice and the citrus dressing. It is both nice warm as you make it as well as making a great lunch cold if you have any leftovers or want to make it ahead. All of the ingredients are robust enough and don't deteriorate with being refrigerated a day or two.
Tips for cutting acorn squash
I'll be honest, acorn squash can be a pain to cut. It's pretty hard and can be slippy. I am sure you may have your own method, but I find the easiest way is to cut down the indented "folds" (not sure that's the best description but hopefully the photo above helps), then peel each segment.
This saves you having bits of skin you can't get to and the width of the segment is not bad to then chop into chunks which is the next step anyway.
Choosing and cooking the rice
I have made this is a couple different ways. Some times I have made it with a wild rice medley which is a mixture of wild rice (black), brown rice and red rice. The blend gave a bit more mix in color and texture.
Another time I simply mixed wild and brown rice. Both I think are a little softer to eat than plain wild rice, which I think is better here. But use whatever you have or prefer.
I tend to cook the rice for around 5-10mins less than than the packet says to keep the nuttiness. Plus I prefer the rice just cooked rather than splitting open too much, but again whatever your preference.
See how it all comes together in the short video!
This is a dish that you can easily play around with what goes in there. For one, you can easily make this vegan by missing out or replacing the goat's cheese. For the rest, I think having things that will cook in the oven is probably the key to save having too many dishes going on, but that may just be me!
This acorn squash wild rice salad is full of comforting flavors and textures, without being too heavy either. It's healthy, easy and perfect warm for dinner or leftovers cold for lunch. What could be better?!
Looking for more fall vegetarian salads? Try these!
- Fall farro salad with squash, radicchio and lemon tahini dressing
- Vegan lentil salad with roasted Brussels sprouts and grapes
- Beet apple salad with maple vinaigrette
- Plus get lots more inspiration in the fall recipes archives as well as in my acorn squash recipes collection.
Acorn squash wild rice salad
- 1 cup wild rice or wild rice/brown/medley mix
- ½ acorn squash
- ½ red onion
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- salt, pepper, olive oil
- ½ cup red pepper approx. ½, or yellow/orange
- 1 cup summer squash 1 small, ½ large, or zucchini
- 2 tablespoon soft goats cheese or a little less (omit for vegan)
For the dressing
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 clove garlic crushed
- 1 teaspoon honey
- salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 425F/220C.
- Cook rice per instructions – for what I used, boil with 1 ¾ cups water for 45 min but check in last 10-15 mins as may not need all of that time.
- Put squash, onion and thyme in an oven dish, season, drizzle over some olive oil and roast for round 30-40 mins.
- After 15 minutes, stir and add pepper and zucchini.
- Make up the dressing by whisking all of the dressing ingredients together.
- Stir again before taking out, mix with rice, add dressing and serve with crumbled cheese over the top.
- Works well as a main alone or as a side to eg grilled meat or sausages. Also good cold for lunch.
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This post has been updated, primarily with new photos.