If you’re looking for your next favorite winter grain salad, look no further! This dish is a perfect lunchtime meal because it’s filling, full of flavor, and super nourishing without leaving you weighed down and wishing for a mid-afternoon nap. It’s even a great way to use up leftover wild rice (or any grain) and something different for your winter squash. And don’t forget about the fresh herbs – they bring out a brightness that balances out the entire dish. Plus – as with most grain salad recipes – you’ll have leftovers for days!

Recipe adapted from NY Times Cooking.

Yield: 6 servings


  • 1 C wild rice
  • 3 ½ C water or stock (chicken or vegetable)
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 lbs. kabocha or butternut squash, peeled and cut in small dice (about 3 cups peeled and diced, weighing 1½ to 1¾ pounds)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice (more to taste)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced or puréed
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 3 Tbsp. substitute extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ C chopped fresh herbs, like parsley, chives, tarragon
  • ½ C diced celery
  • 1 5-6 oz. bag baby arugula or spinach


  1. Rinse the wild rice. Bring the water or stock to a boil in a medium saucepan, add salt to taste and the rice. Bring back to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer 45 minutes, until the rice is tender and has begun to splay. Drain through a strainer, return to the pot, and cover the pot with a clean dishtowel. Return the lid to the pot and let sit for 10 minutes
  2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. Place the squash in a bowl or directly on the baking sheet and toss with salt to taste, the balsamic vinegar and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Spread on the baking sheet in an even layer and make sure to tip all of the liquid remaining in the bowl over the squash. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes so that the squash browns evenly. The squash should be tender all the way through. Remove from the heat
  3. In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the lemon juice, garlic, salt to taste and mustard. Whisk in the remaining olive oil and the walnut oil
  4. Combine the wild rice, squash, herbs and celery in a large bowl. Toss with the dressing. Add salt and pepper to taste. Line a platter, individual plates or a wide salad bowl with the baby spinach or arugula. Top with the salad and serve


Advance preparation:

This salad holds well for a couple of days in the refrigerator, without the arugula or spinach.

By: Erin Pellegrin, RD