Roasted sweet pumpkin together with nutty black rice and a crunchy toasted pecan crumb. This combination makes a hearty vegan salad with a whole lot of delicious textures.
Best Vegan Salads
There are days where I crave vegetables. No idea why, because I am not a vegetarian, but there are times where I would prefer a big plate of vegetables compared to a big slab of meat.
If it is cold, a plate of roasted vegetables straight from the oven helps cure my cravings. Or in summer, a big bowl of chopped fresh crunchy vegetables with a delicious homemade dressing will also do the trick.
Clearly, many of you also have the same feelings as our best vegan salads are very popular! Whether you are looking for a delicious vegan side dish or a delicious main meal, our list of best vegan salads will help satisfy the cravings.
I know salads are not always considered hearty or filling, so I wanted to create a vegan salad that would most certainly fill you up.
I already had pumpkin in the pantry, and with a bag of fresh pecans from All Aussie Farmers, I knew this was a winning pumpkin salad recipe combo. Add in nutty black rice and the result is delicious and comforting warm vegan pumpkin salad.
What Goes Well With Pumpkin?
Pumpkin is a firm favourite in our house. We usually have it roasted with a sprinkling of paprika, salt and olive oil. The paprika adds a layer of smokiness but also brings out the sweetness of the pumpkin.
My go-to pumpkin is butternut pumpkin as it has a sweet, nutty flavour when cooked but still holds shape when roasted or fried.
Fun fact – I didn’t know a butternut is technically not a pumpkin! It is a winter squash and is related to cucumbers and melons. No wonder it is called butternut squash in other parts of the world!
Due to its natural sweetness, pumpkin goes well with many savoury ingredients like pecans, walnuts, bacon, chicken and turkey. It also carries spices like nutmeg and paprika plus creamy elements like buffalo mozzarella and cream cheese well.
Pumpkin is a very versatile ingredient that we use in our savoury meals and desserts.
>> Check out pumpkin pairings for some inspiration for your next salad.
How To Make Toasted Pecans
It was our first time experimenting with fresh pecans in shell this season. Not having a nutcracker in the house did prove some challenges at the start but we improvised with a heavy cleaver and managed to crack the pecans open. The kids had loads of fun smashing! Not to worry if you don’t have pecans in the shell for this recipe.
To open a pecan in its shell, use a nutcracker or pliers and gentle crack the shell. You don’t want to crush too hard that it smashes the pecan meat into pieces as well.
Remove the outer shell from the pecan meat. Then gently break the pecan into two halves and remove the shell material that is holding the two halves together and in the cracks.
I believe there is a tool you can use to pick the shell out without breaking the two halves, but I preferred the two halves anyway.
To make toasted pecans, you can do it two ways. First is on the stovetop like what I did. It’s a quicker method, but you can’t toast a lot in one go and also it may not toast as evenly.
The other method for toasted pecans is with the oven. Using the oven, you can toast more pecans and you don’t have to watch it if you have a timer on.
Either way, toasting pecans will bring out the nutty flavours, and it will add extra crunch to the salad.
Why I Love Vegan Pumpkin Salad with Toasted Pecans
This is a hearty pumpkin salad recipe with roasted pumpkin together with black rice and a crunchy toasted pecan crumb. I love the different textures that you get with this combination. The dried cranberries and rocket leaves add pops of freshness and tart flavours to balance the vegan pumpkin salad.
You can prepare this vegan salad in advance and transport for potluck dinners or weekday work lunches. I would also love to share this salad at festive gatherings.
Roasted pumpkin with toasted pecans, black rice and cranberries will give your traditional Christmas side dish a delicious twist.
How to Make Vegan Pumpkin Salad with Toasted Pecans
How to Roast Butternut Pumpkin
Preheat the oven to 200°C or 400°F.
Trim the top and bottom of butternut pumpkin or butternut squash, then remove the outer skin of the pumpkin and dice it into 2cm cubes.
Drizzle with olive oil, paprika and sea salt, roast in a preheated oven for 20 minutes. Check the pumpkin and flip them to the other side and roast for another 5 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove from the oven and set aside for assembly.
How to Cook Black Rice
Also known as forbidden rice, black rice is a highly nutritious grain with high levels of antioxidants, a good source of fibre and a natural detoxifier.
It is called forbidden rice because black rice was only consumed by royalty and the wealthy in ancient China. Cultivated in limited quantities, it was forbidden for common folk to consume.
Of course, this has changed now, but black rice is still only cultivated in limited quantities compared to white and brown rice. I love the nutty texture of black rice and is fantastic in salads as it does not become mushy.
Whilst the pumpkin is roasting in the oven, wash the uncooked forbidden rice thoroughly. Add ½ cup forbidden rice and 1 cup water into a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium to high heat.
Cover the saucepan and reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes.
Once it’s cooked, turn the heat off and let it sit for a further 10 minutes.
Remove the lid and transfer the cooked forbidden rice into a small mixing bowl and let it cool down.
How to Prepare the Toasted Pecan Crumb
Place ½ cup of raw pecans into a food processor and pulse several times so that it resembles a chunky crumb. If you don’t have a food processor, roughly chop into small pieces.
In a large frypan, over medium-high heat add extra virgin olive oil and swirl to coat the pan. Then add crushed pecans, breadcrumbs, maple syrup and sea salt.
Toast pecans and breadcrumbs for about 4-5 minutes until golden brown and fragrant. Keep moving the pan and stirring often to avoid them burning.
Remove from the pan and set aside for assembly.
How to Prepare Orange Dressing
This is a super light dressing that is great for other grain salads or leafy green salads. The citrus flavours help cut through any rich ingredients.
I prefer to use a mason jar to mix it all up. It is up to you, as you can mix it in a bowl as well.
Add orange juice, apple cider vinegar, olive oil and maple syrup in a mason jar. Season with salt and pepper and shake well to combine.
How To Assemble Salad
In a large mixing bowl, add roasted pumpkin, black rice and cranberries. Add salad dressing to the bowl and toss together.
Add washed rocket leaves and ¾ toasted pecan crumb to bowl and gently mix.
Transfer to a large serving plate, then scatter remaining toasted pecan crumbs on top.
You can prepare this vegan salad in advance, including dressing the salad. However, I would leave out the rocket leaves and toasted pecan crumb until you are ready to serve. You want fresh leaves with a crunchy toasted crumb when you do.
In saying that, this salad will keep for leftover lunch the next day. Easy to follow pumpkin salad recipe, this is a yummy choice.
More Vegan Salad Recipes
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Easy Salad Dressing Recipes
Salad dressings are incredibly easy to make in the comfort of your own home. This way you can control the ingredients to suit your palate and you can make the exact portion you need for that one meal. We have a huge collection of recipes and you may just like some of these:
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Vegan Pumpkin Salad with Toasted Pecan
Click on the toggle below for conversion to US Cooking Units.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C or 400°F.
- Remove the outer skin of the pumpkin and dice it into 2cm cubes. Drizzle with olive oil, paprika and sea salt, roast in a preheated oven for 20 minutes.Turn the pumpkin around and roast for another 5 minutes until golden brown.
- Wash the uncooked forbidden rice thoroughly. Add ½ cup forbidden rice and 1 cup water into a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium to high heat. Cover the saucepan and reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes.Once it’s cooked, turn the heat off and let it sit for a further 10 minutes. Transfer the cooked forbidden rice into a small mixing bowl and let it cool down.
- Place ½ cup of raw pecans into a food processor and pulse several times so that it resembles a chunky crumb. If you don’t have a food processor, roughly chop into small pieces.
- In a large fry pan, over medium-high heat add 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil and swirl to coat the pan.
- Add crushed pecans, breadcrumbs, maple syrup and sea salt and toast for about 4-5 minutes until golden brown and fragrant.
- Remove from the pan and set aside for assembly.
- Wash rocket leaves.
- Add orange juice, apple cider vinegar, olive oil and maple syrup in a mason jar.
- Season with salt and pepper and shake well to combine.
- In a large mixing bowl, add roasted pumpkin, black rice and cranberries.
- Add salad dressing to the bowl and toss together.
- Add washed rocket leaves and ¾ toasted pecan crumb to bowl and gently mix.
- Transfer to a large serving plate, then scatter remaining toasted pecan crumbs on top.
- If you don’t have pecans, you can substitute with walnuts.
- This recipe would work with roasted sweet potatoes as well.
- You can prepare this salad in advance including dressing the salad but leave out the rocket leaves and toasted pecan crumb until you are ready to serve.
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