If you could put fall in a bowl, I can assure you it would look a little something like today’s Wild Rice & Delicate Squash with Brown Butter Vinaigrette.
With nutty, toothsome grains of wild rice, sweet dried cranberries, perfectly roasted delicata squash and the most addictive brown butter vinaigrette, this easy fall side has quickly become one of my new favorite go-to pairings for my favorite fall entrees like this chicken or this salmon.
And honestly, even if you top it with just a simple piece of seared salmon or chicken sans the fancy preparation above, it’s easily filling enough to suffice for lunch or dinner.
Wild rice isn’t something I often cook with, simply because in its original state it takes about an hour to cook, and as a habitual procrastinator I don’t usually plan ahead in time to make that work. This time however, I managed to read the label in plenty of time to make accommodations for the lengthy cooking process, and trust me, the end result is worth it.
Wild rice has this irresistibly crunchy texture and nutty taste that I can’t get enough of, and when it’s paired with another nutty ingredient – brown butter – the flavor is heightened even more.
To make the cooking process as efficient as possible, I started by immediately getting the rice on the stove, and then prepped and cooked the rest of the ingredients, starting with the delicate squash.
Delicata squash is one of those amazing fall produce items you find everywhere this time of year. It tastes similar to a butternut squash, but as the name is implies, is a little bit more delicate in flavor. I also love that that the gorgeous green-speckled ivory skin is so thin, you can cut right through it and roast it as is.
All I did here, was cut it into about 1/4-inch pieces, tossed the slices with some olive oil, seasoned everything with some salt, pepper, and just a touch of cinnamon, then threw them on a baking sheet and into a 375 degree oven to roast for 25-30 minutes.
In the last few minutes of cooking, a handful of pine nuts are toasted (be careful, they have a tendency to burn!), and set aside until the rice is done cooking.
Once all of the ingredients are ready to go, they’re simple tossed together, seasoned with a bit more salt and pepper are ready for your fall table.
- 3/4 cup wild rice, rinsed well
- 2 1/4 cup water
- 1 tsp salt, divided
- 1 delicata squash, halved down the middle and cut into 1/4 inch slices
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 tsp dijon mustard
- 1 tsp honey
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Add water, rice and 1/4 teaspoon salt to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, cover with a lid. Simmer until rice is cooked, 45 minutes to one hour.
- Toss squash with 1/4 teaspoon salt, olive oil and cinnamon. Spread on a large baking sheet. Roast for 25-30 minutes until golden brown and soft, flipping over halfway through.
- While rice and squash finish cooking, add the pine nuts to a small skillet. Toast over a medium flame until they start to turn a light golden brown, immediately remove, as they burn easily. Set aside. Add butter to the same skillet. Heat over a medium-high flame. Once butter begins to brown on the edges, swirl the pan until it turns a deep gold brown and smells nutty, it should take about 2-3 minutes. Take off the heat and cool slightly.
- Whisk vinegar, mustard and honey with the butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Once the rice and squash are cooked, toss the rice with the vinaigrette. Add the cooked squash, toasted pine nuts, cranberries and remaining salt. Toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.