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Roasted Winter Squash & Beet Brown Rice Salad with Cara Cara Vinaigrette


This is a meal salad. The three of us devoured it all. I love hot rice or baked potatoes, for that matter, in salads. I’m not sure what the draw is, but there’s some magic happening when the hot rice, cool salad, and vinaigrette come together. For an extra layer of goodness, I roasted some sweet dumpling squash and beets. The Cara Cara oranges and pomegranate seeds add to the beauty of this dish and also a nice fruity sweetness.

I loved how this combo of ingredients turned out but as with most of my savory dishes you can really swap out the fruits and veggies for what you have on hand. Navel oranges or blood oranges for Cara Cara, sweet potato, and carrots for the squash and beets, any type of salad greens you want, and any other add-ins you want.

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Roasted Winter Squash and Beets

  • 1 sweet dumpling squash (or acorn, carnival, or delicata)
  • 2 medium sized beets
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon dried or a few sprigs fresh herbs (I used Fare Isle Nantucket Herbs Blend)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Brown Rice

  • 1 cup brown jasmine rice, rinsed and drained
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped carrot
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1/3 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 herbs (I used Fare Isle Nantucket Herbs Blend)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Cold water-enough to cover the rice about 1/4″

Salad Fixings

  • 1/2 of a large head of lettuce or 1 whole head if small in size (I used red leaf here)
  • 1 Cup of English cucumber slices (I quarter the cucumber lengthwise and then chop into 1/4” slices)
  • 1 Cup chopped tomato (or halved cherry tomatoes)
  • 2 Cara Cara oranges (any sweet citrus will work)
  • 1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds (toasted or raw)
  • 3 scallions chopped

Cara Cara Vinaigrette


Prepare Roasted Winter Squash and Beets:

  1. Preheat oven to 425˚F.
  2. Slice squash into 1/2″ thick circle and remove seeds. Peel and slice beets into about 1/2″ 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.
  3. Bake for about 30-40 minutes until squash and beets are tender. Remove from oven and set aside until assembly.

Prepare Brown Rice: 

  1. While squash and beets are roasting, heat a 2-3 quart saucepan on the stove top on medium-high heat.
  2. 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 it a bit and then bring it to a boil, cover and simmer on low heat for about 35 minutes, until rice is tender.

Prepare Salad Fixings: 

  1. Wash and dry lettuce and rip into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Supreme the oranges into segments and reserve the juice (for the vinaigrette). Keep each element separate until assembly.

Prepare Cara Cara Vinaigrette:

  1. Add all the ingredients to a pint-sized mason jar and secure the top with a lid.
  2. Wrap in a kitchen towel (just to be safe) and shake vigorously until emulsified.

Assemble Salad:

  1. 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.
  2. Sprinkle the scallions and sunflower seeds all over the top. Pour the dressing evenly over the entire salad.
  3. Serve immediately. Best eaten right away. Once dressed, greens do not keep very well. Enjoy!!
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