Roasted Pumpkin Salad Recipe

A roasted pumpkin salad made with wild rice, tiny, caramelized red onions drizzled with a simple, honey-kissed, creamy sunflower seed dressing. A colorful harvest salad perfect for Fall festivities.

Roasted Pumpkin Salad

A few of you were curious about what I made with the lovely sunset-shaded pumpkin I found nestled at the bottom of my last produce pick-up. After enjoying it on my desk for a few days, I lined my countertop with a deconstructed paper bag (to contain the mess), and gave my knife a good workout. Flash-forward to a refrigerator full of pumpkin wedges, cubes, and slices - needless to say, pumpkin has been on the menu ever since. This particular pumpkin salad came together by combining a simple, honey-kissed, creamy sunflower seed cilantro dressing with a platter of roasted pumpkin, wild rice and tiny, caramelized red onions. You might use any leftovers in omelettes, tossed with salad greens, or as a component in an impromptu stir-fry later on in the week.

Pumpkin Salad Recipe

I should mention that the texture and flavor of pumpkins and winter squash can vary dramatically. That's not all, the flesh of some pumpkins are much more moist than others, and all of this can have an impact on your roasting time. Nothing to worry about, just something to keep an eye on. Broadly speaking, I approach each squash I bring home individually, and simply roast it until it's done.

The pumpkin I used for this recipe had flesh you could cut like butter. It was easy to work with on the prep side of things, but after 45 minutes in a hot oven I had to handle it carefully to make sure it didn't go to mush on me. I might choose a more structured squash the next time around - for example, butternut or acorn squash would be great, and both are relatively easy to come by.

Pumpkin Salad Recipe

Also, for those of you looking for shortcuts, I've noticed that many stores are now carrying pre-cooked whole-grain rices (brown, wild rice, and more) in both the freezer section and on the shelves as well - Whole Foods Markets and Trader Joes.

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Roasted Pumpkin Salad Recipe

I know many people have an aversion to cilantro - feel free to leave it out. This will change the personality and flavor profile of the dressing, but it will still taste delicious.

3 cups of pumpkin (or other winter squash), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
extra-virgin olive oi
fine grain sea salt

12 tiny red onions or shallots, peeled (OR 3 medium red onions peeled and quartered)
2 cups cooked wild rice*

1/3 cup 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 pumpkin in a generous splash of olive oil along with a couple pinches of salt, and turn out onto a baking sheet. At the same time, toss the onions with a bit of olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and turn out onto a separate baking sheet. Roast both for about 45 minutes, or until squash is brown and caramelized. The same goes for the onions, they should be deeply colored, caramelized, and soft throughout by the time they are done roasting. You'll need to flip both the squash and onion pieces once or twice along the way - so it's not just one side that is browning.

In the meantime, make the dressing. With a hand blender or food processor puree the sunflower seeds, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and honey until creamy. You may need to add a few tablespoons of warm water to thin the dressing a bit. Stir in the cilantro, saving just a bit to garnish the final plate later. Taste and adjust seasonings (or flavors) to your liking - I usually need to add a touch more salt with this dressing.

In a large bowl, toss the wild rice with a large dollop of the dressing. Add the onions, gently toss just once or twice. Turn the rice and onions out onto a platter and top with the roasted squash (I'll very gently toss with my hands here to disperse the pumpkin a bit). Finish with another drizzle of dressing and any remaining chopped cilantro.

Serves 4.

* To cook wild rice: Rinse 1 1/2 cups wild rice. In a medium sauce pan 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. You'll have enough for this recipe and some leftover.

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Whenever I can, I make recipes in a skillet. Saves time and energy, and is also good for camping. For “Roasted Pumpkin Salad” I cut butternut squash into half-inch cubes, then sauteed them in a frying pan with sunflower oil. When a bit caramelized, I added a bit of water, steamed them until they began to soften, then took off the cover and fried them back to their caramelized glory. (This is a great way to cook green beans, by the way.) I also caramelized half-inch sized chopped red onions with oil in a fry pan. When done, added the onions to brown rice and sticks of linguini that I had pressure cooked together. Added some of the dressing. Plated the onion and rice mix, then placed the cubes of squash on top. Poured more dressing over what amounted to a warm salad, then sprinkled chopped cilantro on top. Each forkful contained all the flavors. Next time will also sprinkle more sunflower seeds (pan roasted) on top, and may include half raw and half toasted seeds in the dressing. This recipe will be repeated many times, and also passed on. Thank you for your creative and healthy dishes!


I just tried this dish last night and it is absolutely delicious! The dressing really makes it, and that Minnesota wild rice always makes me feel so healthy and fulfilled. Heidi, thanks for another great recipe.


Biz – your story made me laugh! My boyfriend went through the same experience with mustard. His mother “sheltered” him from it and now it’s one of his favorite condiments!


I made this with Carnival squash instead of pumpkin and quinoa in place of the rice (had only sushi rice on hand). It was WONDERFUL. I don’t like pumpkin but I love delicata, kabocha and carnival squashes.
To peel, I usually cut the squash in half and microwave about 1-2 minutes before chopping and peeling. (This is probably because I use such dense squash.)
The cilantro kind of sat in the background. I had an idea to use Thai basil instead of cilantro, so I’m going to try that next. I’ve usually found Thai basil and lemon juice to be a decent almost-replacement for my cilantro-challenged friends. It’s definitely not the same flavor, it definitely changes the dressing, but it’s not bad.


Looks delicious! I love pumpkin recipes. It’s the first time I’ve writen a comment, but I’ve tried several recipes from your blog and they’re all incredible. Thank you!!


Heidi, what ARE good substitutes for Cilantro? I like cilantro myself, when the mood strikes. My family is another matter. And sometimes, I just don’t think a straight substitute of parsley really cuts it. Any suggestions anyone else too please!?
Thanks! 🙂

Trish in MO

This was the perfect excuse to use a gorgeous buttercup squash that I had on hand. I had no cilantro, but I added a generous amount of curry powder and coriander into the dressing–delicious!


YUM! I think this looks amazing, and looks like it lends itself to endless interpretation with whatever’s in the garden. I can’t wait to make this!


Wow, this looks great! I’m definitely thinking about adding it to my Thanksgiving menu!
I wonder how mushrooms might taste if they were added to this, like maybe some chopped up and cooked portabellas? I don’t know, it’s just a suggestion and I might try it. 🙂


I just made this and am eating it as I type this message. I used quinoa instead of rice, brown rice syrup and maple syrup instead of the honey, and butternut squash. It is so yummy….I am off for seconds….


This looks very yummy. I think I’m going to make a vegan-ized version with maple syrup instead of honey. I think that would fare well with the winter squash. Gonna try it!


This looks wonderful, and so homey for this chilly weather that is starting to turn my leaves outside! Will definitely head to the market for a pumpkin, or maybe even try a mix of different squash. I can even see adding in a few roasted pumpkin seeds, or extra non-pureed sunflower seeds to top the salad and add some crunch. I think this would be beautiful on the Thanksgiving table.

Chef Darren

This looks really good and i’m due to get a pumpkin.

Comedy Blog

DROOL. I’ve been on a major pumpkin kick too. This looks fabulous! I love roasted (or grilled) onions – so sweet and tasty. Will have to make this soon. I really wish it felt like Fall here (Miami).


What did you do with the pumpkin seeds? My favorite part of carving a pumpkin (or any winter squash for that matter) is separating out the bulk of the pulp but not washing the seeds, then tossing with olive oil, salt and maybe chili powder, paprika or whatever and roasting in the oven. Good for snacking on through the week. Buttery, and addictive, kind of like a popcorn flavor. Smaller squash seeds even get tossed on top whatever squash salad I am making for an interesting texture component.


Wow, I never would have thought to have roasted pumpkin…in a salad. I adore pumpkin, and will have to try this, even if I can’t talk my family into it!

Trish in MO

Yay! A unique way to use Pumpkin. This looks delicious. I’m definitely using the cilantro, too.

Ellie from Kitchen Caravan

its perfect pumpkin in red curry


This looks mouthwatering. I would never have thought to dress it with the cilantro dressing, but now that the idea is in my head it seems fantastic. What a fall bounty!

Erin @ The Skinny Gourmet

Regarding cilantro aversions: they are genetic, especially if the person tastes a soapy bitter flavor. It is one of those bizarre things, there is actually a test for this genetic trait where you lick pieces of paper treated with who-knows-what (not cilantro) and if they taste like aspirin you have it, and if they don’t, you don’t. (The test generally indicates a response to bitter flavors, not just cilantro. Somehow this gene mixes cilantro into the bitter flavor profile.) Fun facts from someone who works in grocery….


Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU HEIDI for posting this amazing looking gluten-free recipe a mere 24 hours before my gluten-free dad comes to visit me. 🙂
This actually reminds me of what I turned your butternut squash and farro recipe into last fall. I think Dad will be getting a delightful cross between the two recipes for dinner this weekend.
Oh and thanks for the gluten-free recipes during October…Celiac Awareness month.

All for Veggies

What a perfect fall salad! Someone from my Gourmet Group made a roasted pumpkin salad last fall with pepitas in it. Will have to give this one a go!


Another delicious way to use pumpkin is in red curry. Mash up some to add to the curry paste and coconut cream just after the oil starts to separate, then throw in the chunks, plus some lightly fried tofu. It makes a lovely, buttery curry that is soo simple to make if you can find good pre-made curry paste. Lucky for me, I live in Thailand so I can skip the mess of scooping and seeding and buy freshly-cooked pumpkin at any supermarket. What a wonderful country!


I just can say:Ummmmm. Pumpkin, fall …. everything connects. NIce recipe.


I just ordered one of those cute LeCreuset pumpkin shaped dutch ovens. This would be a great first recipe to break it in!


this is my first time commenting, but i’ve been lurking for a while:) heidi, i love your recipes!! i made this as part of tonight’s dinner and used butternut squash instead; my husband and i LOVED it. so delicious! i had the same thought as others…this will be a wonderful to share with family at thanksgiving!


Heidi, it looks wonderful. It’s spring here now in NZ but I shall put this one away for next autumn. Thank-you


Looks delicious, but you’re quite right – I don’t like cilantro, but I’ll figure out something else. Always inspirering to come and visit your site.


What do I do after sitting in the cilantro? Ha ha, typos are fun.


fabulous autumnal offering, heidi–thank you!
but i must say that the pharmaceutical banner advertising on your site is a big disappointment. sorry, but it doesn’t seem to sync with your wonderful values.


this looks so delicious! pumpkin is such a wonderful ingredient and i love the roasted shallots and wild rice. i will be making this one very soon – thanks for all the wonderful recipes, just discovered your blog and it’s fabulous.


This looks amazing – and I love your creamy dressing that’s dairy free. Right now our farmer’s market is just bursting with winter squash, so this is going on next week’s menu without question.

Haley W.

Thank you for the wonderful inspiration, I have some butternut squash in the garden waiting to be harvested and I thought I would make this for a baby shower that is coming up this Saturday.


If you’ve still got some pumpkin left, try making a vegetarian version of our pumpkin mee.


While I like most of what you make Heidi, I just can’t do it. I have an onion phobia, as does my husband.
I sheltered my daughter from onions her whole life, until she went to a sleep over as a teenager and they had veggie pizza with onions on it. Not to be rude she took a piece and ate it.
It changed her life forever! She came home and said “you’ve been sheltering me my whole life from delicious onions?!”
She soon found out that it was her Dad and I against the world, and that most people DO like onions.
So now when we go grocery shopping, she always places onions in the basket!


so……… delicious


this looks amazing, thanks heidi! please keep the pumpkin and winter squash recipes coming–they are so abundant, delicious, nutritious…and not to mention affordable.


Could your purple onions be any prettier? This salad looks amazing!

Ali and Evan

I’d love to try this with kabocha. You’ve really opened up my “salad” horizons with your many creative combinations both on here and in your cookbooks. I love that you break the rules of what a “salad” is considered to be by most and make it into something totally cravable and nourishing. Thank you.


PS: I used Butternut Squash…YUM!


JUST MADE IT AND ATE IT! Hooooooly Mooooooly! That is perfection….just….perfection. I am in love with this salad. Can i marry it?


Heidi, you are AMAZING. My boyfriend is literally going to go crazy when he sees this dish. He loves pumpkin and fall is his favorite season! Thank you! Thank you!


Hi Heidi – this salad looks AMAZING!! This would be a great side dish for Thanksgiving. I’m loving all the great flavors of fall!

Jen (Running with Food)

I love butternut, acorn, and pumpkin squashes at this time of year–I’m even going to try to store some in the basement and see how long they last me.
I like the idea of sunflower seeds *in* the dressing–never seen that. It lends protein to a veg-centric meal, always important for vegetarians.
And yes, cutting up the pumpkin–definitely a lot of work. I reduce the work by roasting in halves first or peeling first and then roasting (my peeler hardly breaks a sweat doing this). Cutting into chunks while raw is useful for many dishes, but messy and frankly, the roasted sans cutting first is just as good! However.
To Fit Bottomed Girls: using non-canned is completely worth the effort and very different, in my opinion.

Erin @ Sprouted

How could anyone dislike cilantro? I’ve never understood this, but I guess to each his own. That being said, this recipe looks fantastic (as all of your recipes do), and I can’t wait to try this dressing…. it sounds delicious and super simple to make.

Kimberly @ Poor Girl Eats Well

Oh my goodness- that does look delicious!!
Perfect fall/autumn fare. The dressing particularly looks inventive and delicious. Yum!


I’m ashamed to say this, but I’ve had a bone to pick with pumpkin ever since last year I decided to roast and puree pumpkin for use in various delicious baked good and recipes to come…..I didn’t know that I had to drain it. I know, I know. NOW. Fast forward to two failed pumpkin breads, a horribly soggy pumpkin cheesecake and possibly the worse pumpkin pie ever. It’s safe to say that I learned that lesson well.
I don’t know why I blame the pumpkin for this. It certainly isn’t the PUMPKIN’S fault, but I do….I have pride….wounded, unjustifiable pride….

Choosy Beggar Tina

thank you for your recepies always full of vegetables and natural products..i read you from Italy and i love your way of cookig!!!


What can you use instead of sunflower seeds since that is not available in India?

Tulika Pabrai

Looks delicious. Morning Glory Farm here in town has the tiny red onions and the pumpkins, so I will make this sometime this week. Our family loved your crunchy broccoli salad which I made this past weekend w/tahini in place of the almond butter. Thanks for all the healthy and tasty additions to our eating!!


You never fail to bring me a cilantro recipe when I’ve got a bunch of it about to hit the disposal and an evening free to do some cooking. Winter squash! I can’t wait for nightfall.


This looks lovely! I’m thinking I might use butternut instead of pumpkin and add it to my growing list of side dishes at Thanksgiving!
Also- I’ve seen peeled and cubed squash at Trader Joe’s. Would save some serious knife time for those (like me) who aren’t very good at it but still want to create dishes like this one.


Another option, instead of all of that very hard work with knife on raw pumpkin, is to cut it in half from top to bottom, scoop out the seeds, and put the halves, cut side down, onto a cookie sheet or baking pan. Put in a 400 degree oven and add half an inch of water in the pan, roast ’til tender. Then you can cool the pumpkin before cutting into bite-sized pieces. The texture will be different, but the flavor is much richer when it’s cooked in the skin, imho.


I´ve got some very generous neighbours with some very large pumpkins – as I´ve nearly gone through every recipe in my own 101 cookbooks, I´m really pleased to see this one!
Tomorrow is Blog Action Day 2008: Poverty
Kiva are hoping many will take this worldwide blog event as a little reminder. I plan to give my first microloan via the 101 cookbooks lending team as one of my actions of the day!


This looks delicious! I have to admit to not being a big fan of cilantro (it tastes like soap to me) but I’m really looking forward to making this minus the cilantro, and maybe including some chopped up cucumber in the dressing, I’ve got one of those sitting in the kitchen looking lonely…. thanks so much, Heidi! and as always, love the photos 🙂

Kellie Hill

I am finding myself in a squashy mood as well. This looks wonderful.


PERFECT use of that pumpkin, Heidi!!


I am definitely going to make this.


Would you consider trying this with pumpkinseed oil in the dressing instead of olive oil? I’m betting it would add something special…


I’m definitely up for the cilantro, especially with winter squash. Plus, it’s SO healthy. The thing I absolutely love about your recipes is that you can tweak them so easily. Mix and match ingredients!


Ooh. A party of flavors. I think I”ll check on the little volunteer pumpkin near my compost pile. Thanks for the recipe and ideas.


Not sure if I have the knife skills or patience to use real, noncanned pumpkin, but this sounds delicious enough to try!

Fit Bottomed Girls

And I have leftover wild rice in my freezer right now. The dressing looks perfect.


Ay ay ay that looks like the perfect pumkin recipe. Thank you for sharing it with us, Heidi!!


Oh my…and i’m off to the farmer’s market!

Michelle @ What Does Your Body Good?

I’m so glad to see more and more pumpkin recipes these days. It makes so much more sense to eat something so nutritious and versatile rather than letting it rot on your stoop.

Aaron Kagan

This looks fantastic! I’m always in the market for new recipes for pumpkin (especially at this time of the year) so thank you. will have to give it a try this week.

Tabitha (From Single to Married)

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