Harvest Wild Rice Salad with Maple Vinaigrette

Harvest Wild Rice Salad with Maple Vinaigrette is a wild rice blend with roasted butternut squash, green onions, dried cranberries, feta, and hazelnuts with a tangy maple vinaigrette.  It’s a festive and delicious fall side dish!

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Warning!  I’m going to complain about the intense heat here in the San Francisco Bay Area once again, so skip over it if you don’t want to hear me whine.  We’re having record breaking heat for October…I mean temperatures in the 90’s?  It wasn’t even that hot in my neck of the woods very often over the summer.  And the heat is messing with my need for fall comfort foods because it’s too hot to really enjoy them!  Luckily, this Harvest Wild Rice Salad was cool enough to enjoy and it gave me a huge dose of fall.  Huge. 🙂

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I made a wild rice salad reminiscent of this one towards the end of my cooking school program.  It was late February, so I was on a winter squash kick…kind of like the one I’m on right now. 🙂  In school I served the wild rice salad stuffed in roasted dumpling squash topped with a spiced Greek yogurt dressing and pumpkin seeds.  If you followed along with my cooking school posts, you may remember the photo:

wild rice stuffed squash

My cooking school version was meant to be a vegetarian main dish, which is why it had more going on.  This version here is certainly satisfying enough to be a meal…and definitely did make a nice lunch for me the day after…but I whipped it up as a side dish with roast chicken.  And was it ever good with roast chicken!

This would be such a nice addition to your Thanksgiving table or fall entertaining.  The colors are gorgeous, and just scream fall, don’t they?  Now I love hazelnuts, but for some reason I don’t use them very often.  They added so much to this salad and made it very special indeed. 🙂

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If you follow along here, you know I put maple syrup in almost everything.  I love adding it to my vinaigrettes as a sweetener, and when it’s fall, it’s especially warranted.  The combination of maple syrup with dijon and white wine balsamic vinegar is oh so good.  It was the perfect dressing to toss this salad with.

If you don’t care for butternut squash, sweet potato or pumpkin would be fabulous here.  The options are endless, but the end result will be a fabulous fall side dish, lunch, main dish, or however you want to enjoy it.  This is your must-make-epitome-of-fall-dish.  You’re gonna love it. 🙂

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Harvest Wild Rice Salad with Maple Vinaigrette
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Harvest Wild Rice Salad with Maple Vinaigrette is a wild rice blend with roasted butternut squash, green onions, dried cranberries, feta, and hazelnuts with a tangy maple vinaigrette. It's a festive and delicious fall side dish!
Serves: 6-8 servings
Ingredients
For the wild rice:
  • 1 cup wild rice blend (I used Lundberg brand)
  • 1¾ cups water
  • ½ teaspoon salt
For the butternut squash:
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup cubed butternut squash (1" cubes)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
For the vinaigrette:
  • 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar (you may also use apple cider or white wine vinegar)
  • 1½ teaspoons dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon fresh orange juice
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Assemble the salad:
  • ⅓ cup dried cranberries
  • 1 large green onion, white and green parts, sliced thinly on the bias
  • ⅓ cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • chopped toasted hazelnuts, for garnish*
Instructions
Prepare the rice:
  1. Prepare the rice according to package instructions, adding the salt when you add the rice to the boiling water. When the rice has absorbed all the water, remove from heat, keep covered, and allow to steam for 10 minutes. Remove the lid and fluff with a fork. Set aside to cool.
Prepare the butternut squash:
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Toss the butternut squash with the olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast for 35-45 minutes, or until golden brown and tender. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
Prepare the vinaigrette:
  1. Place the vinegar, dijon, maple syrup, and orange juice in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Add the olive oil in a steady stream while whisking constantly to emulsify. Add salt and pepper to taste and set aside.
Assemble the salad:
  1. When the rice and squash have cooled, place in a large serving bowl. Add the cranberries, green onion, and feta cheese. Toss with about half of the dressing until well coated. Taste and add more dressing if necessary. Top with the chopped hazelnuts, and serve slightly warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!
Notes
Total time above includes about 10 minutes to cube your own butternut squash. You can buy pre-cubed butternut squash to save some time.

The rice will absorb the dressing as it sits, so add more to leftovers add necessary.

I used pre-toasted hazelnuts from Trader Joe's which saved a significant amount of time. You can toast your own whole hazelnuts on a rimmed baking sheet at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes, then wrap them in a kitchen towel and rub vigorously to remove some of the skins.

Recipe by Flavor the Moments.