Fall is about leaves changing and weather cooling. As fall comes around, you want to bring in all there is to love about the autumn season, including your food. Whether you are serving up a salad course before dinner or looking for a recipe for a potluck dinner, an autumn-inspired salad can be a nice touch.
Spring and summer means fresh crisp salads. Just because fall is here doesn’t mean you have to settle for limp lettuce, tired tomatoes or crunchless cucumbers. Make your salads with fall vegetables and fruits to reflect the bounty of autumn. Or look to your pantry for canned and dried staples that you can add to salads along with herbs, vinegars and oils.
Pumpkin, carrots, squash, beets, and Brussels sprouts are just a few vegetables that appear on the produce stands in autumn. With the exception of carrots, most have to be cooked. Roast the vegetables to bring out their sweetness. ( For how to oven roast vegetables, see post: https://jovinacooksitalian.com/2012/05/07/vegetables-on-the-side-no-butter-please/). Dress with an apple cider vinegar dressing and serve at room temperature. Sliced raw carrots, cooked beets and blanched parsnips make a colorful autumn vegetable salad. Blanch cauliflower in boiling water for a few minutes, then plunge into ice water. Break off florettes and toss with walnut oil, chopped walnuts and white wine vinegar.
Fall fruits are ideal for savory salads. Waldorf is a prime example, a combination of apples, raisins, celery and walnuts in a mayonnaise dressing. Consider a fruit slaw of bright red crisp apples, complemented by a citrus juice dressing with added cayenne pepper for a touch of spice instead of mayonnaise. Pears are mellow and at their peak in the fall. Combine sliced pears with bleu cheese, sliced almonds and baby spinach leaves. Try a red grapefruit, avocado, jicama and butter lettuce salad. The avocado melts into the grapefruit juice, so no dressing is required.
Pears are a traditional fruit of the autumn season. Since pears are plentiful during the fall, you can purchase them at reasonable cost. Create a sautéed pear salad with warm nuts and a cider-vinegar dressing. Use fresh pears paired with celery, white cheddar and a warm dressing for a crunchy pear salad. Pair green lettuce with warmed walnuts, fresh pears and a maple vinaigrette dressing for a more traditional salad.
Just like pears, apples are in abundance around the fall season. You can use apples fresh, sautéed or baked for autumn salads. A salad does not have to contain lettuce to be considered a “salad.” Pair sautéed apples with toasted pecans and apple cider vinaigrette for a warm, tangy and sweet salad. Pair cheddar and fresh apples together with walnuts for a crisp and refreshing salad. Another idea is to try fresh spinach, pomegranates, diced fresh apples and walnuts together with a pomegranate vinaigrette. See dressing recipe below:
Pomegranate Vinaigrette Recipe
- 1 cup pomegranate juice*
- 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon good-quality aged Balsamic Vinegar
- 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
* Be sure you’re buying 100% pomegranate juice, as some juices advertised as pomegranate juice are a blend of apple or grape juices with a small percentage of the more expensive pomegranate juice. POM is an excellent brand, but there are also other brands that are pure pomegranate juice.
In a small stainless steel or non-reactive saucepan over high heat, boil the pomegranate juice until reduced to 1/3 cup, approximately 9 or 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
While still warm, stir in the sugar, salt, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil; set aside to cool.
Yields 1 cup vinaigrette.
Nuts and Beans
With autumn comes the use of spiced nuts and legumes. Common nuts and legumes in the fall season are pecans, walnuts, pine nuts and lentils. Create a warm lentil salad with fresh spinach, pecans and sharp cheddar cheese. Use toasted nuts to top off a salad for a crunch. Toasted walnuts and pecans are suitable in both savory and sweet salads, and they work best when paired with fresh fruit or a fruity vinaigrette.
Dressings and Vinaigrettes
A salad is not a salad without a dressing or vinaigrette (an emulsion of oil and vinegar with herbs and spices). Fall vinaigrettes and dressings should be warm and rich in flavor. Use maple syrup to create a maple-balsamic dressing that has a bite of mustard and a sweet accent. When in a hurry, create a quick vinaigrette using apple cider vinegar, mustard powder, extra-virgin olive oil and salt. Adjust portions according to taste and tartness.
Cider Vinaigrette Recipe
Yield: 3/4 cup
- 1 cup apple cider
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons grainy mustard
- 1/3 cup olive oil
Boil cider in a small heavy saucepan until reduced to about 1/3 cup, 12 to 15 minutes.
Whisk together reduced cider, shallots, vinegar, and mustard with 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Add oil in a slow stream, whisking until combined.
Broccoli Salad With Gouda
- 3 cups small broccoli florets
- 1/4 cup chopped red onions
- 1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds ( or pine nuts)
- 6 -8 ounces Gouda cheese, cut into 3/4-inch cubes ( smoked or regular)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- salt, to taste
Cook broccoli in boiling salted water for 1 minute. Drain well.
Combine the broccoli with onion, tomatoes, nuts and cheese.
In a small bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, sugar, pepper and salt; pour over salad mixture and toss to coat.
Parmesan Celery Salad
- 8 large celery stalks and celery leaves
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for topping
- 1 1/2 cups cooked cannellini or garbanzo beans, heated
- 3 tablespoons golden raisins
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
- sea salt or celery salt
- reserved celery leaves
Slice the celery stalks quite thinly – 1/8-inch.
In a small bowl, make a paste with the olive oil, lemon juice, and Parmesan. Set aside.
In a large bowl toss the heated beans with the olive-Parmesan mixture. When well combined, add the celery, raisins, and most of the almonds. Toss once more. Taste and add a bit of salt if needed. Serve in a bowl or platter topped with celery leaves and remaining almonds.
Apple Turkey Salad
- 6 ounces cooked turkey breast, cubed
- 1/4 cup chopped apples
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced celery
- 1 shallot, thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup Fruit and Nut dressing, recipe below ( or your favorite)
- sliced or chopped nuts of choice
In a medium bowl, gently stir together, turkey, apple, celery and shallot.
Pour dressing over chicken mixture.
Toss gently to coat.
Serve on lettuce leaves, sprinkle nuts of your choice over.
Dressing for Salads with Fruit and Nuts
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar or champagne vinegar
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice or any citrus juice
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 3 tablespoons walnut oil
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Whisk together the vinegars, lemon juice, mustard, brown sugar, salt, and pepper. Whisk in the oils. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Tomato Chickpea Salad
- 1 (19 ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed ( garbanzos)
- 1 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 4 tomatoes, cut into large dice
- 1 cup chopped cucumbers
- 6 green onions, sliced
- 1 cup cubed swiss cheese ( or feta, mozzarella, Cheddar or Monterey Jack)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper
Salad: In large bowl, combine chickpeas, parsley, tomatoes, cucumber, onions and cheese.
Dressing: Whisk together oil, vinegar, garlic and seasonings.
Toss dressing with salad ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for several hours.
Chicken and Pear Salad over Arugula
- 1 whole chicken breast, roasted and sliced
- 1/2 cup blue cheese salad dressing, low-calorie, see recipe below
- 3 pears, sliced
- 2 bunches arugula
Place pears in medium bowl; toss with salad dressing. Add arugula; toss again. Arrange arugula salad on 4 plates.
Divide chicken slices and place on top of salad. Sprinkle with walnuts.
Creamy Blue Cheese Dressing
Adapted From EatingWell: March/April 2007, The EatingWell Diet (2007)
Makes 1 1/4 cups
- 1/3 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
- 1/3 cup nonfat buttermilk, or nonfat milk
- 1/3 cup nonfat plain yogurt
- 2 tablespoons tarragon vinegar, or white vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese, (1 ounce)
Whisk mayonnaise, buttermilk (or milk), yogurt, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper in a medium bowl until smooth. Add cheese and stir, mashing with a spoon until the cheese is incorporate
Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week. Stir before using.
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