Warm up as the temperatures cool down with this hearty and healthy Warm Acorn Squash Salad with Toasted Almonds, Swiss Chard, and Maple Lemon Dressing. It’s gluten free and vegan and uses fresh seasonal produce!
I like to pose hypothetical questions. In some ways, it really digs deep into personality traits; in other ways, they reveal little quirks and habits that we may never realize.
One question which Ryan and I repeatedly return to is this: would you rather eat Paleo or vegan? Ryan selects Paleo out of those two extremes, while I oscillate: Paleo, because bacon and eggs and whole roasted chicken; vegan, because bagels and rice and hummus.
Honestly, if I had to choose between the two, I’d say a tearful farewell to my morning bowl of oatmeal and go Paleo. I need meat, not just for the taste, but because my energy and iron levels drop significantly whenever I cut out meat.
Well, as Paleo as one could go while still drinking beer. I’d make that exception since beer dates back farther than many civilizations.
However, I do appreciate a good meatless meal, as you all know from my weekly link-ups with Deb and Tina for Meatless Monday. I’m a complete omnivore when it comes to food: some meals I just want meat and vegetables, other meals I dig into grains and beans. Honestly, the ease of photographing meatless meals contributes to my penchant for sharing meatless meals. It’s inexplicable, but much like how I struggle to photograph pie, salads and rice bowls come with ease.
(I wrote the above paragraph while cooking the food, and then photographing this was frustrating and not my best work. Let’s just say these photos will probably not appear on my Foodgawker page.)
So, for today’s recipe, I present you with Acorn Squash and Wild Rice Salad with a Maple Lemon Dressing. This salad is warm, hearty, flavorful, and healthy – not to mention easy to make, since everything is cooked in the oven. It’s a satisfying meatless meal or, if you are planning ahead, a crowd-pleasing side dish for Thanksgiving.
What’s all in this Acorn Squash and Wild Rice Salad? First, as the name suggests, we have a base of a blend of wild rice and brown rice. You can purchase these blends in the bulk bins of your grocery store or make your own. Warm roasted acorn squash and swiss chard add a rich and earthy flavor, while the maple lemon dressing brightens the dish up with a sweet zing. Finally, toasted almond slivers add a crunch that rounds out the whole dish.
I have mentioned before about how I bake my rice rather than boil it. Yes, you too should bake your rice! No matter what type of rice you are preparing (wild rice, short grain, long grain, white, brown, etc), this method consistently produces fluffy rice. No undercooked bits to break your teeth on, no bowl of mush, just perfectly cooked rice. I say this as a woman who used to despise cooking rice (unless it was in risotto, be still my heart) until I learned this method. Now, rice is a weekly staple in our house. The morale of this story is (a) bake your rice and (b) I am lazy when it comes to cooking.
Warm Acorn Squash and Wild Rice Salad with Toasted Almonds, Swiss Chard, and Maple Lemon Dressing
- 1 1/4 cup water
- 3/4 cup wild rice blend
- 1 acorn squash
- 2 cups Swiss chard chopped into large pieces
- Salt to taste
- Ground black pepper to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon ground paprika
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil divided
- 1/4 cup slivered almonds
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Bring the water to the boil. Combine the boiling water and the rice in an oven-safe casserole dish, cover with foil or an oven-safe lid, and cook for 40 minutes. Remove from heat and fluff the rice.
- Increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees. Cut an acorn squash in half, remove the seeds, and cut into cubes. Toss with 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil, paprika, and salt and pepper to taste. Roast for 20-25 minutes, until tender.
- Toss the chopped Swiss chard with 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Roast for 5-8 minutes, until leaves wilt and stems are soft. Meanwhile, roast the slivered almonds for 5 minutes.
- Combine the lemon juice, olive oil, and maple syrup in a bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste and whisk vigorously.
- In a large bowl, combine the rice, acorn squash, Swiss chard, and almonds. Top with the dressing and toss. Serve while warm.
As a note: you can keep the skin on the squash, since it is edible. I do not enjoy the texture of cooked squash skin, so I peel it off after I roast the squash. You can also cut off the skin before you roast it, but be cautioned that you might nearly give your husband a panic attack as you wield a knife around the grooves of the squash while promising that you won’t end up in the hospital for stitches like you did that one time.
Questions of the Day:
Do you prefer warmer meals as the seasons change?
If you had to choose one: Paleo or vegan?