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.

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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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! Melissa


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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