Wild Rice Salad
I’m still sort of in denial about summer being almost over. I’m finally able to do some fun outside stuff since my knee is much improved, but the leaves are turning and all the signs are pointing toward FALL.
This is a seasonal cusp of a recipe with some fall ingredients (squash) and some last-grasp-at-summer ingredients (corn).
I just smashed them all together and mixed them with some nutty wild rice and was really happy with the results. As with most of my grain salads, this works great as a side dish or cold for lunch!
Wild Rice and Acorn Squash Salad
Yield: Serves 6-8.
2 cups uncooked wild rice
1 acorn squash, peeled and cubed (reserve and roast seeds)
2 leeks, diced
3-4 ears sweet corn, chopped off cob
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
A few dashes of hot sauce
Salt and pepper
A good veggie peeler
1) Cook wild rice according to package instructions. It will most likely take 45 minutes to cook.
2) Slice acorn squash in half and remove seeds. Reserve seeds for roasting. Peel squash and cube into 1 inch cubes.
3) Toss squash cubes with olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Lay out on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Also lay out squash seeds and sprinkle with kosher salt.
4) Roast squash and seeds for 25-30 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit, stirring occasionally, until squash is soft and slightly charred and seeds are roasted.
5) Chop leeks in half longwise and rinse with cold water to remove dirt between layers. Then slice thin. Also slice corn off the cob.
6) Add butter to a large skillet with high walls and melt over medium heat. Once hot, add leeks and a pinch of salt. Cook until leeks start to soften, about five minutes.
7) Add corn and continue to cook for another few minutes.
8) Stir in cooked rice, squash, and season with salt and pepper and a dash of hot sauce (optional). Finish with fresh chopped parsley.
Serve salad warm or chilled.
I don’t cook with wild rice that much, but I wanted to make sure I had a grain that could hold up to the squash in this recipe.
You might be able to find this stuff wholesale if you have a good supermarket. I had to buy mine in little, tiny 1-cup boxes.
It’s one of the more expensive grains in the store, but it’s still relatively cheap and this recipe makes a boat load of food.
Your specific rice grain might vary so just cook it according to the packaging or instructions that come with yours.
Because it’s so sturdy, it’ll probably take 45 minutes to cook.
The resulting grain is really nutty and hearty and wonderful in a fall salad like this.
My ideal way to make large squashes like acorn or butternut squash is just to halve them and then roast them as-is.
This recipe works a lot better though if you cube the squash before roasting it so the squash doesn’t just turn to mush and the cubes can caramelize a bit.
This means you have to peel a squash. If you’ve never done this before, it isn’t exactly easy. You need a good peeler or a paring knife. For my money, I love the really sharp Titan peelers. Yes… they are frequently featured on infomercials, but I think they rock.
Work slowly and be careful so you don’t cut yourself.
Once your squash is peeled, clean out the seeds and then dice up the flesh into large 1-inch cubes.
Toss the cubes with some olive oil, salt and pepper and lay them out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
I also recommend saving the seeds and roasting them as well with some salt sprinkled on top. They give some great texture to the dish.
Roast this stuff at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for about 25 minutes.
Give the squash and the seeds a good stir every few minutes. If the seeds start to brown badly, pull them off so they don’t burn. They might not need the full 25 minutes.
The nice part about roasting the squash like this is that it caramelizes beautifully and stays a bit on the firm side.
Leeks and Corn
Once your rice and squash are cooking, the rest of the salad is pretty easy to toss together.
For the leeks, slice them longwise down the center and then wash them well under cold water. Leeks are notorious for accumulating dirt under all those layers.
Once they are washed, I recommend quartering the leeks and then dicing them up!
To get the leeks cooking, add a good knob of butter to large skillet with high sides over medium heat. Once it is melted add in the leeks and cook them with a pinch of salt until they start to soften. Then stir in the corn and continue to cook until it is soft, just a few more minutes.
Then just stir in your cooked rice, the squash, and maybe a few extra dabs of butter.
Season the whole situation with some salt and pepper, fresh parsley, and maybe a dash or two of hot sauce if that’s your thing.
As you are serving this salad, I recommend sprinkling on some of the roasted squash seeds.
As a full disclaimer, Betsy didn’t like the squash seeds, but I’m sort of over-riding her here because, hey, it’s my blog. I loved them and thought they gave the salad some great texture and crunch.
Roasted seeds or not, this is a really hearty and filling salad that’s perfect for dinner or lunch.
I guess I’m okay with it being fall now…