Nutty rice pairs up with pumpkin, pomegranate + feta in this harvest wild rice salad. A homemade dressing makes this the perfect Thanksgiving side dish!
I love serving a hearty salad with out holiday meals, because it’s such a refreshing dish next to all the more heavy holiday dinner sides.
This is perfect for all fall celebrations, with wild rice, roasted butternut squash and lots more goodies. And it looks so pretty on a beautifully decorated Thanksgiving table!
- You can use pumpkin or acorn squash in place of the butternut if that’s all you have.
- The dressing ingredients are quite flexible – use apple cider vinegar in place of the white wine vinegar, apple cider in place of the orange juice or maple syrup in place of the honey.
- For the mustard I recommend using a Dijon mustard, but any you have will work. Sometimes I switch things up and use a whole grain mustard, which is very delicious, too!
- You can skip the arugula if it’s not your thing, or replace it with baby kale or baby spinach.
- Likewise, use a different cheese if Feta isn’t your thing – diced cheddar or Colby Jack would be delicious here, too.
- The time your squash needs to roast will depend on the exact size you dice it, but it’s usually done in around 15 minutes. Important here: Don’t over-roast it, or it will turn into mush in your salad. Letting the squash cool before using it helps it stay firmer in the salad, too.
- Always taste-test your dressing before using it, so you can adjust if it needs more sweetness or acid etc.
- In case your dressing doesn’t turn out smooth and the ingredients stay separated, try adding a little more honey or mustard. They act as emulsifiers and help create a smooth salad dressing!
- do not overcook the rice – that’s especially important for a salad, it’s not attractive and it gets smushed pretty easily otherwise
- to cool the rice quickly, you can drain it in a fine-mesh sieve and then rinse under cold water until it has cooled; this will also help keep the rice form overcooking in residual heat
- If you’re using freshly… Plucked? Emptied? De-seeded? pomegranate, make sure to rinse the arils (seeds) under cold water, then drain them well. Otherwise your entire salad will be pink.
- To make this salad appealing and to keep it from getting messy, be very careful when tossing it! And only toss it right before serving, or your arugula will wilt.
Make ahead instructions
Roast the squash the day before and store it in an airtight container in the fridge once it has cooled.
Make the dressing in a small lidded jar and keep that in the fridge as well for up to two days.
And while you’re at it, get the pomegranate seeds ready and into the fridge for up to a day ahead as well.
Then the day of, all you have to do is cook the rice (I don’t like to keep cooked rice because it easily spoils), chop some arugula and assemble your salad.
Scale the recipe
This is a recipe that works just as well for a large group as it does for a tiny celebration.
You can easily halve the recipe to serve only a few people. Or double, triple, quadruple… To serve a crowd.
Just what your Thanksgiving needs!
More Thanksgiving sides
Ok, I have never shared a turkey recipe here, so you’re going to have to find that elsewhere 😅 But here are some of my favorite Thanksgiving dishes from the blog 🍁
- Sweet Potato Casserole
- Cranberry Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash
- Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
- Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes
- Cranberry Pecan Roasted Brussels Sprouts
- Maple Walnut Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes
- Maple Pecan Roasted Sweet Potato Slices
- Honey Butter Cornbread
- Pumpkin Cornbread
- Crockpot Glazed Carrots
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Harvest Wild Rice Salad
For the Roasted Butternut Squash:
- 1 pound butternut squash peeled, deseeded and cubed
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- black pepper to taste
For the Dressing:
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar OR apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 1 teaspoon mustard
- salt and black pepper to taste
For the Salad:
- 1 cup wild rice mix
- 3 cups chopped arugula
- 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
- 5 ounces crumbled feta cheese
- Roast butternut squash: Preheat the oven to 430°F. Toss the cubed butternut squash in a large metal roasting pan with the oil, salt and black pepper. Roast for 15-20 minutes or until soft and starting to brown.
- Make the dressing: To make the dressing, whisk or shake all ingredients together. Store in the fridge, covered, until ready to use (or for up to two days).
- Cook the wild rice: Cook the wild rice mix according to package directions. Allow to cool before adding the remaining ingredients. To speed up cooling, rinse the cooked rice under cold water in a fine mesh sieve.
- Assemble the salad: Once the rice has cooled down, toss it with the arugula, pomegranate seeds, feta crumbles, roasted squash and the dressing. Serve immediately (if you need to assemble ahead of time, do so without the arugula and add that right before serving).
More recipe information
Recipe first shared on Food Fanatic as Harvest Wild Rice Salad.