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’s not got that rich sweetness of butternut so when I tried using it 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
One thing to mention that may make the annoyance of peeling the squash a bit less, well, annoying, is that I found the easiest way was 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.
Cooking the rice
I used a wild rice medley that I found which is a mixture of wild rice (black), brown rice and red rice that both gave a bit more mix on color. It’s a bit lighter than straight wild rice, to me, but use whatever you have or prefer. I tend to cook the rice for around 5-10mins less than than the packet says. I found at this point both the rice had absorbed all the water. Plus I prefer the rice just cooked rather than splitting open too much, but again whatever your preference.
The ingredients I used in this acorn squash wild rice salad worked so well together, but I am sure you could easily play around with them. 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! Go ahead and play around, I would love to hear what you find works well.
Whether you have it warm or cold, this hearty salad is full of delicious fall flavors.
- 1 cup wild rice or wild rice/brown/medley mix
- ½ acorn squash
- ½ red onion
- 1 tsp 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 tbsp soft goats cheese or a little less (omit for vegan)
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 clove garlic crushed
- 1 tsp 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.
Note portions numbers depend if using as a side or main on it's own - here is as a main.
Try these other tasty vegetarian fall meals:
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