Meatless Monday – Squash, Wild Rice and Kale Salad

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I love this combination of kabocha squash brushed with maple syrup and roasted to sweet tenderness, on a bed of fresh baby kale, hearty wild rice, creamy avocado, pomegranate seeds and salty crushed pistachios, all drizzled with a light orange, ginger vinaigrette.  Its a hearty main course salad when paired with crusty sourdough bread or a bowl of soup.

My friend, Kerry and her daughter, Gabby, were visiting from Maine last week. I could tell that Kerry was unimpressed by the pile of greens on the counter while i was making dinner. By the time the whole salad was assembled, she was singing a different tune…

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The colors alone tell you that this salad is a nutrional powerhouse.  Remember “Eat the Rainbow”?  The more colors you combine in your meals, the more vitamins and minerals you are likely to be getting.  I haven’t posted a food color chart in a while, so here is good one compliments of eatlocalgrown.com.  Its actually pretty interesting knowing that food is a certain color for a reason, or conversely, that the phytonutrients a plant contains determines its color.  color.jpg (720×720)I love wild rice in salads.  It has a nutty flavor and chewy texture that helps satisfy your mouth and your belly.  This salad is not heavy but it makes you feel satisfied and happy. For those that like to compare the nutrition of various ingredients, there is a healthy reason to incorporate wild rice into your diet.  According to SF Gate,  a one-cup serving of cooked, long-grain white rice contains 210 calories, 4 grams of protein and 45 grams of carbohydrate, including 1 gram of fiber. The same-sized serving of cooked wild rice provides you with 170 calories, 7 grams of protein and 35 grams of carbohydrate, including 3 grams of fiber.20180222_171101.jpgThis recipe calls for kabocha squash which is perfect for salad since its flavorful and tender and has a soft edible rind.  You can also use acorn squash which also has the pretty scallops but the rind is hard and inedible.  Its not really a problem, you can just remove the rind as you eat.  Acorn squash should probably be cut in thin quarter rounds since they are generally larger and may need to cook longer depending on thickness.

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TIPS:  I love fresh pomegranate seeds, or arils as they are technically named, but they are not available all year around.  Sometimes you can find them in the frozen section but I have started buying them when they are in season, seeding them and storing them in the freezer until I need them.  Its best to store in small, usable quantities instead of trying to chip away at a large block.   You can also freeze the small plastic containers of pomegranate seeds available in stores during the season if you haven’t opened them. They thaw perfectly!  You can always substitute another fresh fruit like blueberries or dried cranberries or raisins.

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SQUASH, WILD RICE AND KALE SALAD

  • 1 kabocha squash (or acorn squash)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup wild rice, uncooked (1/2 cup cooked)
  • large bunch baby kale or arugula
  • 1/3 cup pomegranate arils (or dried cranberries)
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1/4 cup roasted pecans (pistachios, hazelnuts or almonds)
  • Vinaigrette: 1/4 cup orange juice
    1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
    1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
    1 garlic clove, freshly grated
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon pepper
    1/3 cup olive oil

 

  • Cook the rice according to instructions in vegetable broth, if desired. For salads, al dente is preferred. Remove from heat and let cool.

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  • Cut the squash open and scoop out the seeds. Place it flat-side-down on a large cutting board and slice into 1/2 inch half rounds

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  • Arrange the Kabocha slices on an oiled baking sheet (or lined with parchment paper). Whisk together the olive oil and maple syrup and brush squash generously, sprinkle with salt and pepper

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  • Roast on 450ºF for 12-15 minutes or until soft and beginning to brown.  Turn halfway through and brush maple oil mixture on other side, salt and pepper. Remove from heat and let cool.

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  • Spread baby kale or arugula in a layer on a large platter.

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  • Dot evenly with wild rice and avocado slices

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  • Top with squash slices

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  • Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds (arils) and slightly crushed pistachios

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  • Whisk together vinaigrette and dress salad just before serving.  Serve with extra dressing on the side.

 

Squash, Wild Rice and Kale Salad

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
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  • 1 kabocha squash
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup wild rice, uncooked (1/2 cup cooked)
  • large bunch baby kale or arugula
  • 1/3 cup pomegranate arils (or dried cranberries)
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1/4 cup roasted pecans (pistachios, hazelnuts or almonds)
  • Vinaigrette: 1/4 cup orange juice
    1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
    1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
    1 garlic clove, freshly grated
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon pepper
    1/3 cup olive oil

 

  1. Cook the rice according to instructions in vegetable broth, if desired. For salads, al dente is preferred. Remove from heat and let cool.
  2. Cut the squash open and scoop out the seeds. Place it flat-side-down on a large cutting board and slice into 1/2 inch half rounds
  3. Arrange the Kabocha slices on an oiled baking sheet (or lined with parchment paper). Whisk together the olive oil and maple syrup and brush squash generously, sprinkle with salt and pepper
  4. Roast on 450ºF for 12-15 minutes or until soft and beginning to brown.  Turn halfway through and brush oil mixture on other side, salt and pepper. Remove from heat and let cool.
  5. Spread baby kale or arugula in a layer on a large platter.
  6. Dot evenly with wild rice
  7. Arrange squash and avocado slices on top
  8. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds (arils) and slightly crushed nuts
  9. Whisk together vinaigrette and dress salad just before serving.  Serve with extra dressing on the side.

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