Winter Grain Salad

Winter grain salad

Grain salad is a perennial favorite of mine (see further proof here & here). Tweeked for winters’ offerings, this grain salad features nutty wild rice harvested in Canada, locally grown spinach, and my own butternut squash.

When blended together, rustic grains and veggies make a nutrient packed satisfying dish that is hearty, not heavy.  I love to chow on this after a run or a day in the snow. I eat a small bowls of salad cold from the fridge. Tall Dark and Handsome likes a big bowl of warm grain topped with a Fern Ridge Farm pork chop.

bulgur wheat wild rice brown rice

This salad is a dish in which the elements are cooked separately and then blended together.  It can be served warm with wilted greens or cold with fresh spinach. The pecans can be substituted for your favorite nut, or omitted all together. I happen to have an unavoidable weakness for a few Florida foods, one of these are pecans, which I always have in my pantry.

I use a handful pickled garlic (that I pickled myself) because I think pickle brine adds a little something extra to so many foods. In fact whenever making a salad using a relish or pickles (tuna salad, guacamole, deviled eggs, etc) I add a bit of the brine. The seeds included in this grain salad are for health and crunch. While all the options listed provide fiber and omega-3’s, the hemp seeds also contain all essential amino acids.

The proportions below make a salad large enough to serve 4 entrees or one pot luck sized portion.

Winter Grain Salad
winter grain salad

  • 1 med butternut squash, peeled and diced into ¼-1/2” cubes
  • 2T pure maple (or molasses)
  • 1c cooked brown rice
  • 1c cooked bulgur wheat
  • 2c cooked wild rice
  • 4c shredded spinach (or blanched kale)
  • 1 bunch green onion, chopped
  • 1/4c pickled garlic, chopped + 1 T pickle juice
  • 1c pecans
  • 2T hemp seeds(hearts), ground flax, or chia seeds
  • 3T dried cranberries

Dressing (fig & balsamic reduction):

  • 1c balsamic vinegar
  • 3T fig, minced  (this is optional, you could use fig, quince, pear, or date)

In a small pan combine the fig and balsamic. Bring to a boil and reduce by half. Drain and reserve fruit pulp for the salad and vinegar for dressing.


Cook the grains, and reserve. If you are new to wild rice, it is a chewy grain. It’s best to cook wild rice like pasta with plenty of water (or broth) and a bit of salt.   Cook 45-60 min to desired tenderness

Heat the oven to 350. Line a pan with foil.  Place chopped squash on the foil and drizzle with maple syrup. Season with salt and pepper.  Roast the squash for 45 min until golden and tender.   Reserve. While the oven is hot, toast the nuts for 3-5 minutes.

winter grain saladIn a large bowl combine all of the chopped ingredients (squash, onion, garlic +brine, spinach), cooked grains, seeds (pecans, hemp,chia, flax), and fruits (cranberries and fig).

Drizzle the dressing over all of it and toss together to blend. Serve as a main dish or a side.