Spring is a tough time of year to dress for; I see people still wearing their winter parkas, while others are tottling around in t-shirts, baring their tender winter skin to the sun. Similarly, it is hard to decide on what to eat: I’ve had my fill of slow-cooked stews and soups, but nibbling down some raw carrots doesn’t seem like quite enough either.
Instead, I settle on cooked salads: they are nourishing and satisfying, but not so heavy that I need to sleep for three hours in the afternoon. This particular rendition used a butternut squash that had been saved from last summer’s harvest, which I felt was a fitting way to say farewell to the winter and make room for the upcoming season’s abundance.
Butternut squash and wild rice salad
1 butternut squash
1 cup dry wild rice, soaked overnight in cold water
1 small yellow onion
1 large handful button mushrooms
1.5 cups frozen green peas
1 large handful of fresh parsley
a few leaves of fresh mint
Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Place cut-side-down in a roasting pan that is at least 2 cm deep and pour in enough water to come up about 1 cm. Roast in a preheated 375 F oven for about 20 minutes, or until a knife easily slides into the flesh. Let cool before handling. When you are able to touch the squash without squealing, cut off the skin and dice the flesh into small cubes.
Meanwhile, bring the wild rice to a boil in 3 cups of water. Cover and turn the heat down so it simmers for 40 minutes or until tender.
When the rice is almost done, prepare the other vegetables: dice the onion and fry in a tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat in a frying pan or skillet. Let it grow translucent and gain some colour. While waiting for that to happen, roughly slice the mushrooms. When the onions are soft and touched with brown edges, throw in the mushrooms and continue to cook until tender and caramelized. Stir in the green peas until just heated through. Remove from heat.
In a large bowl, add everything together: the diced squash, the cooked wild rice, and the veggies. Roughly chop the parsley and mint and add those as well. Squeeze over the juice of the lemon and add a few glugs of olive oil. Toss and taste, adding enough salt to your liking. I like eating this at room temperature, but eating it warm is pretty good too. If I had some feta cheese I might also crumble that over….hm, perhaps next time.