This vegan fall harvest salad is loaded with sweet roasted delicata squash and beets, pomegranate arils, and Cara Cara oranges and dressed with a sweet and tangy orange maple vinaigrette. It's the perfect hearty salad to add to your fall and holiday menus!
This is a salad you can serve as a meal. The warm brown rice, roasted delicata squash and beets are filling and hearty. Fresh lettuce, veggies, Cara Cara oranges and pomegranate add lots of flavor and brightness. The orange maple vinaigrette is sweet and tangy and brings this delicious salad together. I like to add sunflower seeds for texture and crunch.
Ingredients and Substitutions
I loved how this specific combination of ingredients came together but as with most of my savory recipes, you can swap out the fruits and veggies for what you have on hand.
Brown Jasmine Rice - This fragrant whole grain brown rice creates a wholesome foundation for the salad. Substitutions: any whole grain such as farro, barley, or quinoa.
Delicata Squash and Beets - These fall vegetables bring sweet earthy flavors to the salad when simply roasted with salt, pepper and herbs. Substitutions: other winter squash and root vegetables such as acorn squash, carnival squash or sweet dumpling squash, and carrots or sweet potatoes.
Cara Cara Oranges and Pomegranate - these sweet, tangy winter fruits add a burst of brightness to contrast the savory fall flavors of this salad. Substitutions: any other sweet citrus such as navel oranges, grapefruit, mandarines, or swap pomegranates with other sweet and tangy fruits like star fruit, grapes, or cape gooseberries.
Lettuce, Cucumber and Tomatoes - crisp, juicy fresh veggies add lightness and crunch to the salad. Substitutions: feel free to use any hearty lettuce or greens such as red leaf lettuce, romaine lettuce or kale, and any other fresh raw salad vegetables like red onion, sweet peppers, radishes.
Sunflower Seeds - raw or toasted sunflower seeds add another crunchy texture and bite to this harvest salad. Substitutions: try other crunchy seeds or nuts such as pumpkin seeds, walnuts or pecans.
How to Make Roasted Delicata Squash Salad
1. Prepare Roasted Winter Squash and Beets:
Clean and slice the beets and delicata squash then coat them with olive oil and seasonings. Roast them on a sheet pan at 425˚F until they are tender for about 30-40 minutes.
2. Prepare Brown Rice:
While squash and beets are roasting, cook the brown rice with aromatics including finely chopped onion, carrots and celery plus minced garlic and fresh or dried thyme.
3. Prepare Salad Fixings:
Wash and dry lettuce in a kitchen towel or salad spinner then rip it into bite-sized pieces with your hands.
Supreme the oranges into segments and reserve the juice for the vinaigrette.
Slice the cucumbers, chop the tomatoes and scallion and prepare the pomegranate and sunflower seeds. Keep each element separate until assembly.
4. Prepare Cara Cara Orange Vinaigrette
Add all of the vinaigrette ingredients to a pint jar and seal with an airtight lid.
Wrap the jar in a kitchen towel (just to be safe) and shake it vigorously until the salad dressing is emulsified.
5. Assemble the Salad
Layer the hot brown rice onto a large shallow serving dish (a pasta serving bowl would work well here) first as the base of the salad. Then layer the lettuce, cucumber and tomato. Next layer the squash and beets, followed by the oranges and pomegranate seeds.
Sprinkle the scallions and sunflower seeds all over the top. Pour the dressing evenly over the entire salad and serve immediately.
How to Supreme an Orange
First, cut off both ends of the orange then stand the orange up. Using a sharp paring knife or utility knife cut away the peel from top to bottom in strips working your way around the whole orange.
Hold the now completely peeled orange in your less dominant hand and cut out each segment of the fruit, leaving the segment membranes behind. Do this over a bowl to collect the orange juice and when you've removed all the segments squeeze out the juice from what is left behind.
Yes, the brown rice, roasted winter squash and beetroot can be made up to 3 days ahead of time and refrigerated until you are ready to assemble the salad.
Yes, you can omit the onion, carrots, celery and garlic and just cook plain brown rice to make it faster and easier.
Yes, the undressed salad will pack and carry well. Keep the dressing separate in the mason jar and dress the salad right before it will be served.
More Fall Salad Recipes:
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Vegan Roasted Delicata Squash Salad with Orange Maple Vinaigrette
Roasted Delicata Squash and Beets
- 1 delicata squash
- 2 medium-sized beets
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon dried or a few sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ⅓ cup finely chopped carrot
- ⅓ cup finely chopped celery
- ⅓ cup finely chopped onion
- 1 clove of garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon of dried or a few sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1 cup brown jasmine rice rinsed and drained
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- water - enough to cover the rice by about ¼"
- ½ of a large head of lettuce or 1 whole head if small in size
- 2 Cara Cara oranges any sweet citrus will work
- 1 cup of sliced English cucumber
- 1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes or halved cherry tomatoes
- ⅓ cup pomegranate arils
- ¼ cup sunflower seeds toasted or raw
- 3 scallions chopped
Cara Cara Orange Vinaigrette
- 4 tablespoons ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons of the reserved Cara Cara juice
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 ½ tablespoon maple syrup or honey
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon of fire cider optional
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
Prepare Roasted Winter Squash and Beets:
- Preheat oven to 425˚F.
- Slice squash into ½" thick circle and remove seeds. Peel and slice beets into about ½" thick slices. Toss squash and beets with oil, herbs and seasonings in a bowl. Dump onto a sheet pan and spread out into one layer.
- Bake for about 30-40 minutes until squash and beets are tender. Remove from oven and set aside until assembly.
Prepare Brown Rice:
- While squash and beets are roasting, heat a 2-3 quart saucepan on the stove top on medium-high heat.
- Toss veggies and herbs with olive oil then add to hot pan (this eliminates spattering oil). Sauté veggies for 3-5 minutes until just starting to brown, then add rice to the pan stirring constantly and allow the rice to toast a bit, a minute or so. Add salt and pepper and water to the pan.
- Stir the rice and then bring it to a boil over high heat, cover the pot and simmer over low heat for about 35 minutes, until rice is tender and all of the water is absorbed.
Prepare Salad Fixings:
- Wash and dry lettuce and rip into bite-sized pieces.
- Supreme the oranges into segments and reserve the juice (for the vinaigrette).
- Slice the cucumbers, chop the tomatoes and scallion and prepare the pomegranate and sunflower seeds. Keep each element separate until assembly.
Prepare Cara Cara Vinaigrette:
- Add all the ingredients to a pint-sized mason jar and secure the top with a lid.
- Wrap in a kitchen towel (just to be safe) and shake vigorously until emulsified.
- In a large shallow serving dish (a pasta serving bowl would work well here) spread the hot rice into a flat layer. Then layer the lettuce, cucumber and tomato. Next layer the squash and beets, followed by the oranges and pomegranate seeds.
- Sprinkle the scallions and sunflower seeds all over the top. Pour the dressing evenly over the entire salad.
- Serve immediately.