Black Rice Butternut Squash Salad with Cashews and Chipotle Dressing

Mextrade - London a la Mexicana

When we think about Mexican ingredients we tend to think of them as exclusive to Mexican food. The truth is, Mexican ingredients can be so versatile and can be mixed with different cuisines with unique and delicious results. Case in point, our Chipotles in Adobo. Every time we get people to try them they are such a success. Their flavour is so amazing and the possibilities are endless. We know you know that you can use Chipotles in salsas, as a base for BBQ sauce and marinades but what about part of an out of this world dressing for a beautiful salad?

This dish is one of those stunning ones that lives up to its looks. Even when it is called a salad, it’s so rich, so wholesome that it is more like a meal in a bowl. Whatever you want to call it, it will leave you happy, satisfied and craving for more.

This dish could seem overwhelming and a little complicated but the key is to prepare ahead. If you are ever in need of a delicious showstopper dish for a party, reunion or Christmas dinner, look no further than this. We recommend to have all the parts ready by making them a day before and mix everything together the next day.  The inspiration for this recipe comes from our love of World Food which to be honest, is our favourite kind of food.  The result is delicious!

Black Rice-Butternut Squash Salad with Cashews and Chipotle Dressing

Yield: 5 to 7 Portions


  • 350 gr black rice
  • 400 gr butternut squash peeled and cut in 1/2 inch layers
  • 1 to 2 oranges depending on size
  • 1 medium onion cut in slices
  • 3 spring onions
  • 85 gr roasted & salted cashew nuts
  • pomegranate seeds, I use about half big pomegranate
  • coriander, I use half a bunch because I love it but feel free to use less or more
  • 6 tbs rice vinegar
  • 6 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 of a small shallot
  • 1/2 tbs Chipotles en Adobo La Costeña (You can use the adobo sauce or the chipotles depending on how hot you want your dressing)
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 3 tbs orange marmalade (generous tbs)
  • 1 tbs water
  • salt & pepper

Firstly cook the black rice by adding about twice the amount of water. Constantly check the rice while cooking. Sometimes it will need more water, sometimes less. You can add water (hot water) or drain the rice as needed. You will know the rice is ready when it is chewy with a nice bite to it. Once the rice is cooked, transfer it to a large tray to dry and let it cool.

Grill the butternut squash and onions with a light coat of olive oil. Use high heat and turn them only once. You want those nice grill lines on the butternut squash. Pinch them with a fork to check they are cooked through. They need to have a bite to them, not too soft or they will fall apart. Move them to a plate with kitchen paper towels to drain any excess oil. Leave to cool.

Segment the oranges. Make sure they are small bite sizes. You want them to be seen but not as big as the butternut which is the star of the show. Don’t fuss a lot with the segments, just make sure to remove the seeds and any big white parts. Set aside.

Chop spring onion and roughly chop the cashew nuts.

To make the dressing use a hand blender and mix everything in a tall container. First blend the rice vinegar, shallot, chipotle, honey, orange marmalade, water, about a teaspoon of salt and a little bit of pepper. Once these are blended slowly add the olive oil with the blender running. Make sure you add it slowly so the dressing infuses nicely. Add salt to taste. We have made this dressing so many times and it is very difficult to get it right the first time. Sometimes it needs more salt, sometimes vinegar, sometimes honey and sometimes orange marmalade. It depends a lot on how flavourful the individual ingredients are, especially the honey and orange marmalade, as these can be very strong. The quantities here are a base, but feel free to adjust accordingly and do it by adding small amounts. Remember you can always add, but you can’t take away.

The final part is the easiest. Mix all the things! By this point the rice, onions and butternut squash must be cooled down. That’s why I like to make all the prep a day ahead. Firstly mix the rice with the dressing, but not the whole amount. Make sure you keep about a third of the dressing on the side to adjust to your liking. Then add the onions, butternut squash (that should have already cut in large bite sizes), the spring onion, 2/3 of the orange segments, 2/3 of the cashew nuts, 2/3 coriander and 2/3 pomegranate seeds. Mix it well and taste it. Always taste as you go. At this point you should know if it needs more dressing and salt. Transfer to a pretty bowl or serving dish. At the end sprinkle with the remaining pomegranate seeds, orange segments, cashew nuts and coriander. Now marvel at the beauty 🙂

Black Rice-Butternut Squash Salad with Cashews and Chipotle Dressing

Black Rice-Butternut Squash Salad with Cashews and Chipotle Dressing

This salad keeps so well for up to 3 days, but I honestly doubt it will last that long 😉 I hope you like it!

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