Harvest Wild Rice Salad

When I think of Thanksgiving dishes, I think of foods like this harvest wild rice salad. I’m not sure why, because it’s nothing I grew up with. In fact, everything I grew up with was mashed and orange/brown at Thanksgiving: mashed potatoes, mashed butternut squash, mashed turnip, stuffing (which is like mashed bread if you think about it), etc.

To tell you the truth, I don’t really like mashed things. Even mashed potatoes have never been my favorite. I much prefer the dynamic texture and flavor of roasted potatoes and squash. Besides, what’s more appealing, beautifully charred butternut squash with sprigs of rosemary, or orange mash?

I love this harvest wild rice salad because not only does it include roasted squash, it has many different colors and seasonal foods. They all naturally go together. It’s like Fall in every bite.

close up of harvest wild rice salad with a wooden serving spoon

Butternut squash is in season from August to December (in New England).

Kale is June through November.

Pomegranate is end of September through November. Speaking of pomegranate, I never used to use it much because this fruit was too time consuming to process..or so I thought. Once I discovered this method (essentially whacking it with a spoon over a bowl of water), I realized that it’s so easy!

Orange is November through May.

Pecans are harvested from October to December.

Each of these ingredients is also loaded with antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, & minerals, making it not only delicious, but healthy and nourishing for our bodies as well! All those vibrant colors will bring in antioxidants, which is something we truly need for overall health and disease prevention. Getting enough antioxidants is even related to supporting fertility.

I’ve been making this harvest wild rice salad, or some variation of it, for years now. This year, I made it for a “Friendsgiving”, and Hayden requested it for Thanksgiving Day!

Harvest Wild Rice Salad

A colorful side dish with seasonal fruits and vegetables.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword autumn, butternut squash, fall, harvest, kale, salad, wild rice
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings 8 people (or 6 hungry people))


Salad Ingredients

  • 2 cups wild rice blend I used Lundberg brand
  • 1/2 large butternut squash or 1 whole small/medium sized squash
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp olive oil divided
  • 1 bunch kale de-stemmed and chopped small
  • 1 pomegranate

Dressing Ingredients

  • 2 oranges juiced
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt or more to taste
  • 1/2 tsp pepper or more to taste
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ginger or more to taste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil


  • 1/2 cup pecans roasted, chopped


  • Preheat oven to 425°F
  • Rinse rice in a strainer and add to a medium sized pot along with 3.5 cups of water, bring to a boil
  • Once boiling, reduce heat to simmer and cook rice for about 45 minutes
  • While the rice is cooking, prepare the butternut squash
  • Peel the squash, cut in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds
  • Chop the squash into 1/2" bite-sized pieces
  • Arrange squash on a baking tray, toss with 1 tbsp olive oil and salt, roast in preheated oven for about 30 minutes
  • While squash and rice are cooking, saute the kale in 1 tsp olive oil until wilted and bright green
  • Prepare the pomegranate seeds using this method – its so easy, I promise!
  • Make the dressing by adding all ingredients except oil to a small bowl
  • Whisk dressing ingredients to combine, then while whisking pour in olive oil
  • Once rice and squash are done, add all salad ingredients except pomegranates, to a large bowl and stir to combine.
  • Add dressing to salad and stir to combine
  • Fold in pomegranate seeds and pecans, saving a few to sprinkle on top if desired

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