I have a mild obsession with delicata squash. I’ve never been a huge fan of the squashes but a couple years ago I found a recipe that really piqued my interest so I gave it a try. And, um, turns out delicata squash is delicious? Like, really really good all roasted up and slightly crispy. The problem is, delicata squash is surprisingly hard to find in the Salt Lake area. I’ll see it pop up here and there in a grocery store or at the farmers market but it’s never around for long. Which means when I saw a big, beautiful display of them at Trader Joe’s, I immediately bought five.
I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do with my windfall of squash but I figured some sort of grain salad was in order because grain salads are kind of my go-to in colder months. They’re one of my favorite meal prep lunches because they hold up well throughout the week. For this grain salad, I roasted up some delicata squash with a red onion, cooked some gorgeous black rice with swiss chard, and garnished the whole thing with pomegranate arils and a mix of herbs and seeds.
Like most winter squash varieties, delicata squash is chock full of beautiful nutrients. It’s quite high in vitamins A and C, as well as packing decent amounts of the B vitamins.
We all know that dark, leafy greens are a nutrient powerhouse and swiss chard is one of my favorites. Swiss chard has a crazy amount of both vitamins A and K and good amounts of vitamin C, magnesium, manganese, iron, and potassium.
Black rice isn’t just gorgeous (although it definitely is that). It’s full of anthocyanins, which are the flavonoid antioxidant that give it its gorgeous black/purple color. It also has higher amounts of fiber and protein than other rice varieties.
Pepitas are a great source of magnesium and hemp seeds help to bump up the protein in this vegetarian salad.
With roasted veggies, rice, greens, pomegranate arils, and plenty of herbs and seeds, this black rice and delicata squash grain salad is pretty substantial. It’s a hearty vegetarian dish all on its own but you could easily add some roasted chicken or salmon to it, too.
BLACK RICE AND DELICATA SQUASH GRAIN SALAD
- 3/4 cup black rice
- 1-2 tsp butter, ghee, or oil
- 1 1/3 cups water
- 1 bunch swiss chard
- 2 delicata squash medium
- 1 red onion small
- 1-2 tbs avocado oil
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4-1/2 cup pomegranate arils
- 1 handful parsley
- 1/8 cup hemp seeds
- 1/4 cup pepitas
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Juice from 1 lemon
- 1-2 tbs white wine vinegar
- 1 tsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 5-6 basil leaves
- 1/8 tsp garlic powder
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 425° F.
- Slice off ends from delicata squash, halve, and scoop seeds out. Slice into ½-inch half moons. Dice red onion. Toss squash and red onion with garlic powder, salt, pepper, and a tablespoon or two of avocado oil. Spread veggies on a parchment-lined baking dish and roast for 35-45 minutes, tossing halfway through.
- Rinse rice and drain thoroughly. Add a teaspoon or two of butter, ghee, or oil to a pot with a lid and heat over medium heat. Toast rice in ghee for a few minutes then add water and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and allow to simmer for about 35 minutes, until rice is cooked and water is absorbed.
- Remove ribs from swiss chard, rinse leaves, and roughly chop. Once rice is done cooking, remove from heat and add swiss chard to pot. Cover and let sit for 5-10 minutes to wilt the chard. Add salt and pepper, to taste, and stir to combine. Set aside, covered, until ready to serve.
- In a small jar or bowl, combine ingredients for dressing and shake or whisk to combine.
- To serve, you can either toss all the salad components together or plate them separately. Add dressing to taste. (I used all of it.)