honey i squashed the salad

squash usually signifies fall cooking to me. i mean, sure, there's a whole category of "summer squash" but really, zucchini is just something that tastes good on the grill (zucchini, baby, i didn't mean it, i love you). but oh, the bounty of fall, the family of "winter squash", these truly warm my heart and my belly in a time when i need it most.

kicking off the fall squash-ables is this delectable roasted pumpkin salad sent to me by my culinary confidante mary. this recipe reminds me of her cooking that i miss so much, i knew i had to make it asap. pumpkin (or squash) and shallots (or onions) are roasted until squishy and caramelized, then tossed with wild rice and a cilantro-sunflower seed dressing. pretty darn simple when all you really do is prep the veggies and then roast 'em for 45 minutes and the rice takes 45 minutes too! in the last few minutes you throw the dressing together in the food processor, mix everything up and eat! dinner in under and hour, and leg work comes in at under 15 minutes. enjoy!

Roasted Pumpkin Salad
adapted from 101 Cookbooks

3 cups butternut (or any winter) squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salt

12 small shallots, peeled
2 cups cooked wild rice*

1/3 cup pumpkin (or sunflower) seeds
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons warm water
1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 375. Toss the squash with olive oil and salt and put on a baking sheet. Do the same with the shallots and put those on a separate baking sheet. Roast for 45 minutes, giving them a good shake every 15 minutes or so to evenly roast. Everything should be nice and soft and caramelized by the time it's done.

Now get your wild rice going, because it takes about 45 minutes too! Rinse 1 1/2 cups of the wild rice. Bring the rice and 4 1/2 cups salted water to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Cook for 40 minutes or until rice is tender and splitting open, stirring occasionally. This makes a little extra, but you'll find something else to put it in!

Now that the rice is simmering and the veggies are roasting, you have about 30 minutes to do whatever. Go watch the simpsons, but make sure to give everything a stir during the commercial breaks. With about 5 minutes left on everything, get going on the dressing. With a hand blender or food processor puree the pumpkin seeds, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and honey until creamy. You'll probably want to add a few tablespoons of warm water to thin the dressing a bit. Stir in the cilantro, saving a little for garnish. Taste and adjust for salt.

In a large bowl, toss the wild rice with a large dollop of the dressing. Gently toss the squash and onions into the rice. Finish with another drizzle of dressing and any remaining chopped cilantro. Enjoy the taste of fall.

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