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Black Rice Salad with Roasted Oranges, Lemons, and Butternut Squash

Black Rice Salad with Roasted Oranges, Lemons, and Butternut Squash

Renée Robinson

As Delicious as It is Beautiful.

As you’re undoubtedly aware, I have a great fondness for citrus fruits. Whether they be fresh and bright, candied, or roasted in order to deepen their flavor, I turn to them again and again. For this dish, I roasted a couple trays of sliced oranges and lemons until they’d begun to char and caramelize. 

Lemon and Orange Slices


Roasted orange and lemon slices

I’ve cooked and enjoyed black rice, but this is the first time I’ve tried Italian black rice . It’s a smaller grain than Asian black rice and isn’t quite as sticky. It’s really perfect for a salad. I cook it as I would cook pasta, in a big pot of boiling salted water. Then I drain it and spread it out on a sheet pan to cool. It’s chewy in texture, but not gummy. I prefer it over brown rice, for both texture and flavor.

Black Rice


Rice cooling in sheet pan

As much as I like butternut squash, I also find it can strike me as cloying in its sweetness if it doesn’t have something to balance out the flavors. I thought the roasted citrus would work well in that respect, but I also added dried cranberries and dried sour cherries to the salad, along with sliced scallions. 

As to the dressing, I have a lovely vinegar called Sonomic Gold Almost Vinegar, which is made with apricots. It’s mild, but fully flavored, so I added a couple tablespoons of lemon juice in order to make sure the dressing was bright enough. In order to enhance the apricot flavor, I put in a teaspoon of apricot jam and it did the trick. If you don’t have this particular vinegar a mild balsamic would work and you could add a little strawberry, plum, or raspberry jam. 

This delicious salad works really well with poultry or pork. You can make it ahead and let it sit out while you roast a chicken or a pork roast. It gets better and better as it sits and all those flavors have time to meld. The leftovers are great, too.  I just let it sit out and come to room temperature before serving again.

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Black Rice Salad with Roasted Oranges, Lemons, and Butternut Squash

Recipe by Renée Robinson



A spectacular salad made by combining Italian black rice with roasted slices of oranges, lemons, butternut squash, dried cherries, dried cranberries, and sliced scallions. A beautiful brightly flavored dressing brings it all together.

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  • 2 cups 2 Italian black rice

  • Extra virgin olive oil

  • 2 2 oranges, seeded and sliced into 1/8 inch thick slices

  • 2 2 lemons, seeded and sliced into 1/8 inch thick slices

  • 3 pounds 3 butternut squash, trimmed, sliced in half vertically, peeled, and cut into 1/2 inch thick slices

  • Morton’s kosher salt

  • Black pepper

  • 1/4 cup 1/4 dried cranberries

  • 1/4 cup 1/4 dried sour cherries

  • 1 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced

  • Italian parsley leaves

  • Dressing
  • 1/4 cup 1/4 Sonomic Gold Almost Vinegar or mild balsamic vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon 1 Dijon mustard

  • 2 tablespoons 2 lemon juice

  • 1 teaspoon 1 apricot jam or berry jam if using balsamic

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons 1 1/2 Morton’s kosher salt

  • Black pepper, several grinds

  • 1/2 cup 1/2 extra virgin olive oil


  • Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Add the rice and cook until it is tender, but still has a bite. The timing will depend on the particular rice used. Mine took about a half hour. Drain and spread on a sheet pan to cool.
  • Preheat the oven to 425° with a rack in the center. Line a half sheet pan with either parchment or non-stick foil. Place the orange slices on the pan and drizzle with only a small amount of olive oil - approximately 2 teaspoons. Rub the oil onto the slices, and flip them. Roast for 20 minutes, total, flipping them halfway through. Repeat with the lemon slices, but only roast for 15 minutes, flipping them halfway through. Set aside.
  • Place the butternut squash slices on a half sheet pan lined with either parchment of non-stick foil. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until they are fully tender. Set aside.
  • Add the cooled rice, dried cranberries, and dried cherries to a large bowl and stir in the dressing. Cut the roasted orange slices into quarters and the lemons into halves. Fold them into the rice. Spoon some of the rice onto a platter, layering the butternut squash as you go. Continue adding the squash and the rice to the platter until it’s all used. Garnish with a few parsley leaves and Enjoy!
  • Dressing
  • In a small bowl, whisk together all the ingredients for the dressing.

2 Responses

  1. That sounds just great! I have the Sonomic Gold Almost Vinegar — what a treasure. Also, I just bought some wild rice which I am new to in my kitchen, so I may make a combo of that and long-grain rice and see how that goes. I know I will love these flavors!

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