Photo: Erin Kunkel
I’ve heard that when we’re taking good care of ourselves, our bodies crave what they need. Well mine must need whatever is in this salad, because I find myself dreaming about it weekly! I’m also in a phase where I like to combine sweeter, richer foods like sweet potatoes and squash with a tart punch of citrus to balance things. This salad hits all of the right notes, and because it’s served at room temperature, you can make it the morning of and enjoy it all day long!
Wild Rice Salad with Butternut Squash, Cherries, and Mint
- 1 ½ cups wild rice
- Kosher salt
- 2 ½ lb butternut squash peeled, seeded, and cut in 1⁄2-in dice
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
- Freshly ground pepper
- ½ cup dried tart cherries
- ½ cup shelled pistachios toasted and chopped
- ½ cup chopped fresh mint
- 3 green onions, white and light green parts only thinly sliced
- ¼ to ½ cup Lime Vinaigrette (Recipe Follows)
- ¼ cup minced red onion
- 1 tsp grated lime zest plus 1⁄4 cup fresh lime juice
- 1 tbsp honey
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- ⅓ cup canola oil
- To cook the wild rice, place in a 4 qt [3.8 L] saucepan. Add 3 cups [720 ml] of water and a generous pinch of salt. Bring to a simmer, stir, and cover. Reduce the heat to low, and cook until the rice is still a little chewy but not hard, about 40 minutes. If there is any liquid left in the pan, strain the rice. Place it on a sheet pan to cool to room temperature.
- While the rice is cooking, preheat the oven to 425°F [220°C]. Combine the squash, oil, and thyme on a baking sheet, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Spread in a single layer. (If necessary, use a second baking sheet.) Roast until the squash is golden and beginning to crisp, about 40 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.
- In a large bowl, combine the rice, squash, cherries, pistachios, mint, and green onions. Drizzle with 1/4 cup [60 ml] of the vinaigrette and toss to combine. Season with salt, pepper, and additional vinaigrette as needed. Serve.
- In a small bowl, combine the onion, lime zest, and honey. Slowly whisk in the lime juice to dissolve the honey. Season with salt and pepper. Let sit for 10 minutes, so the lime juice softens the red onion a little. Slowly whisk in the oil. Taste and add more salt and pepper as desired. Serve immediately, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.