I think it’s finally safe to say that fall is in the air around here! Red and orange leaves are scattered on the ground, yellow and fuchsia mums decorate nearly every porch on the block, and I’ve traded in my sandals and tank tops for slip on Chucks and a denim jacket. Coincidentally the 80s called and want their fashion trends back. Weird!
Trips to the grocery store are almost too adorable to bear right now too. Sugar pumpkins, mini squash, and lumpy gourds greet us at almost every turn of the cart, begging me to take them home. Alas, I have no design sense and they’d just sit in an awkward pile on my table.
One fall favorite I DO know what to do with though, is the abundance of squash sitting next to the wee pumpkins. Come to Mama, Wild Rice Harvest Bowls with Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette!
Guys, I’m over the moon for this beautiful, delicious dish and am so excited to share it with you today, especially, because you can make it over the weekend then pack the leftovers for easy, healthy lunches all next week – this dish holds up beautifully in the fridge!
Let’s get specific: hearty wild rice is tossed with my favorite fall food pairings – cinnamon and spice roasted butternut squash and brussels sprouts, chopped apples and cheddar, chewy dried cranberries and almonds – then drizzled with homemade sweet and tangy Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette. The results are outstanding. If you like wild rice salads than you’ll love this fall version that’s full of craveable flavors and textures. I can’t get over how healthy it is and how perfect the leftovers are to take for quick and easy lunches to eat straight from the fridge. I did keep these bowls meatless since I don’t always require meat at midday myself (who am I kidding, Applegate salami is bae,) but feel free to add chopped seared chicken or even pork for more staying power.
Now go forth and make Wild Rice Harvest Bowls with Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette – one of the best ways (besides Ginger & Apple & Bourbons ?) to celebrate this fabulous and delicious season!
Start by cooking 1 cup wild/brown rice blend in 1-3/4 cup chicken broth according to package directions. I love this Lundberg Wild Blend Rice – it’s what I use for my Crock Pot Chicken and Wild Rice Soup, too! Spread the rice out onto a plate to cool slightly or make a day ahead of time and refrigerate.
While the rice is cooking, prep 1 small(ish) butternut squash. As we talked about in our “How to Eat Healthy on a Budget” post, eating seasonally is great for the pocketbook. Organic squash is selling for $.99 at the regular grocery store right now because it’s in-season and abundantly available, aka time to stock up.
Slice the top and bottom off the butternut squash then slice in half and use a vegetable peeler to peel the skin from the long neck. I prefer to use a sharp knife to peel the bulb end as it’s easier to follow the curve then trying to hack away at it with a peeler.
Slice the squash into planks, then each plank into strips, and finally each strip into 1″ cubes. By the way, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it’s so funny how different individual squash can be! The one I sliced into to photograph for this recipe was bright yellow (Lincoln asked if it was cheese!) and not extremely sweet, while the one I used for this Roasted Balsamic Butternut Squash was sweet as candy and pumpkin-orange. The consistency issue is slightly annoying, but also kind of…fun/funny? I need a nap.
Anywho, measure out 3 cups of 1″ cubes then add to a silpat or nonstick sprayed foil-lined baking sheet and toss with 1-1/2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 1/8 teaspoon each garlic powder, chili powder, and cinnamon, plus lots of salt and pepper. None of these seasonings are overwhelming, by the way, they just add a little somethin’ somthin’, and I loved the little hints of cinnamon I occasionally got when eating these Wild Rice Bowls.
Roast the butternut squash for 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees, stirring halfway through. After stirring, put the squash back into the oven along with a sheet pan of 9oz shredded brussels sprouts tossed with 1-1/2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. The brussels sprouts will get nice and crispy in 8-10 minutes, which means they should be done at the same time the squash is – weewho!
Let both the squash and brussels sprouts cool slightly – you can also roast both a day ahead of time.
By the way, I am totally digging these pre-shredded brussels sprouts for this dish. I find them to be too thick for salads with raw brussels sprouts, but they’re the perfect thickness for roasted dishes and save SO much prep time.
Once the rice, squash and brussels sprouts have slightly cooled, add them to an enormous (don’t say I didn’t warn ya’!) bowl with 1 large or 2 small chopped apples, 3oz cubed white cheddar cheese, 1/3 cup dried cranberries, and 1/3 cup sliced almonds. By the way I think pepitas would be fantastic in place of the almonds, they’re just really hard to find gluten-free.
Last step is to drizzle on a homemade Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette (which is as good as it sounds!) and toss to coat. That’s just 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil shaken with 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 2 Tablespoons fig jam (I like Dalmatia – usually found in the speciality meats/cheeses section of the grocery store,) 1 minced garlic clove, salt, and pepper.
Eat right away or portion into containers to eat for delicious lunches all week long. Enjoy, enjoy!
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Wild Rice Harvest Bowls with Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette
Wild Rice Harvest Bowls with Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette are full of healthy, fall-inspired ingredients. Make a big batch then enjoy for lunch all week long!
- 1 cup wild-brown rice blend (I recommend Lundberg)
- 1-3/4 cup gluten-free chicken broth
- 3 cups 1” butternut squash cubes (about 1 small squash)
- 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1/8 teaspoon each garlic powder, chili powder, cinnamon
- salt and pepper
- 9oz thinly shredded brussels sprouts
- 1 large or 2 small apples, chopped
- 3oz white cheddar cheese, cut into cubes
- 1/3 cup sliced almonds or pepitas
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries
- For the Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette:
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 clove garlic, microplaned or minced
- 2 Tablespoons fig jam
- salt and pepper
- Add rice and chicken broth to a small saucepan then bring to a boil, place a lid on top, then turn heat down to a simmer and cook for 40-50 minutes or until rice is al dente (verify liquid amount and cooking method with rice package directions.) Set aside to cool slightly - can be done a day ahead of time.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a half sheet pan with a silpat or foil then spray with nonstick spray if using foil. Add butternut squash cubes, 1-1/2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, garlic powder, chili powder, cinnamon, salt, and pepper then toss with your fingers to evenly coat. Roast for 15-20 minutes, or until squash is tender, stirring halfway through. Set aside to cool slightly - can be done a day ahead of time.
- Meanwhile, line another half sheet pan with a silpat or foil then spray with nonstick spray if using foil. Add shredded brussels sprouts, remaining 1-1/2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper then toss with your fingers to evenly coat. Add to oven after stirring the squash then roast together for 8-10 minutes or until brussels sprouts are tender and golden brown.
- For the Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette: Combine ingredients in a bowl or jar with a tight fitting lid then whisk or shake to combine (might need to microwave for 15-20 seconds to help melt the fig jam.) Taste then add more salt, pepper, and/or fig jam if desired.
- In a large bowl combine cooked rice, butternut squash, brussels sprouts, apples, cheese, almonds, and dried cranberries. Drizzle Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette on top then toss to coat and serve. Leftovers are good for 3-4 days.
This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.