Kabocha Squash Forbidden Rice Salad with Lemon-Pomegranate Dressing

In ancient China, forbidden rice, with its superior nutritional value and obvious beauty, was reserved for aristocracy and forbidden to anyone else. Fast-forward to today when, thankfully, we can all enjoy the antioxidant-packed grain without penalty. Look for it in Asian, international and well-stocked mainstream markets. And while you’re there, grab some pomegranate molasses, which adds depth to this dish.

Kabocha Squash Forbidden Rice Salad with Lemon-Pomegranate Dressing

Serves | 4 |

Lemon-Pomegranate Dressing

  • ¼ cup pomegranate molasses
  • juice of 2 medium lemons, strained
  • 3 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ tsp kosher salt

Kabocha Squash Forbidden Rice Salad

  • 1 medium kabocha squash, insides removed and cut into ⅜-inch slices
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3 cups cooked forbidden rice
  • ½ cup fresh parsley, chopped, plus more for garnish
  • ⅓ cup fresh mint, chopped, plus more for garnish
  • lemon-pomegranate dressing, divided (recipe follows)
  • 2 to 3 oz baby arugula
  • 1 small red onion, cut into paper-thin slices and soaked in ice water
  • ½ cup pumpkin seeds, roasted

Preparation – Lemon-Pomegranate Dressing | In a small bowl, whisk together pomegranate molasses, lemon juice and rice vinegar; stream in olive oil as you continue whisking and whisk until blended. Add salt; whisk to incorporate. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Preparation – Kabocha Squash Forbidden Rice Salad | Preheat oven to 400˚F. Toss kabocha in olive oil; generously season with salt and pepper. On a lipped baking sheet, lay out kabocha in a single layer. Roast, 30 to 35 minutes, flipping halfway through.

Meanwhile, add rice, parsley and mint to a large bowl; add half of the dressing and toss to combine. Fold in arugula and mix until everything is combined; season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide onto plates and then layer 4 to 5 slices roasted kabocha and red onion on top of each portion. Divide pumpkin seeds on top and garnish with more fresh herbs. Check seasoning and adjust if necessary. Drizzle more dressing over salads, if desired, and serve warm or at room temperature.

Shannon Weber is the creator, author and photographer behind the award-winning blogaperiodictableblog.com, and her work has appeared on websites such as Bon Appétit, Serious Eats and America’s Test Kitchen.

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