There is plenty of cool weather produce available in the fall that you can make into delicious, seasonal salads.
Apples are plentiful during the autumn months. For salads, choose varieties that are sweet and crisp. Popular salad apples include Red Delicious, Fuji and Winesap. Buy firm apples that smell fresh and have smooth skins.
It’s also the time of year to sample all types of pears. Select those with even color and a slight blush. Be careful when handling pears because they are delicate and bruise easily. Although there are thousands of known pear varieties in the world, there are a handful recognized especially for their superb flavor and fresh eating qualities, such as Bartlett, Anjou, Bosc and Comice.
Tip: To keep pear slices from browning, sprinkle them with lemon juice or serve them immediately after slicing.
Fresh cranberries are very tart and are usually sweetened before they go into a salad. Dried cranberries add beautiful color and sweet chewiness to salads.
Grapes are harvested when sweet and ripe, so look for plump clusters that are firmly attached to green stems. Once at home, refrigerate grapes until ready to use and then rinse with cold water, halve them and mix them into your favorite salad.
Fall beets come in red, pink, orange, yellow and white varieties, as well as a range of sizes. Both the bulbous root and the leafy stalk are edible. For salads, select small to medium beets with firm, smooth skin and no soft spots or punctures. Those with stems and leaves still attached are best. The foliage should be green and fresh-looking. Store beets, greens and all, in a produce bag in the coldest part of your refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Tip: Use disposable latex gloves from the drugstore when peeling beets. They’re thin enough to allow dexterity while protecting your hands from stains.
Fennel is available in the fall and adds a hint of fresh sweet licorice flavor to any salad. This aromatic plant is pale green with a celery-like stem and feathery foliage. Its root base and stems can be treated like a vegetable and baked, braised or sliced and eaten raw in salads. The greenery can be used as a garnish or snipped like dill to enhance many recipes. Fennel’s licorice-like flavor is sweeter and more delicate than anise and, when cooked, becomes even milder and softer than in its raw state.
The cabbage family is wide and varied: broccoli and cauliflower are members. Some of the best heads of cabbage for salads are the crinkled-leaf “Savoy” types, also sold as Napa, January King or Wivoy cabbage. These are thin-leafed, tender and mild. When choosing a head of cabbage, look for fresh, crisp leaves that are firmly packed; the head should feel heavy for its size.
Cauliflower and Broccoli
These vegetables are available year-round, but they are especially plentiful in the spring and fall. When buying cauliflower, select one that is white or creamy white in color, firm and heavy. Cauliflower may be stored for up to one week in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Keep it dry and any brownish colored portions may be trimmed away before cooking.
When shopping for broccoli, look for leaves and stems with dark green heads. Look for tender, young stalks that are firm with compact buds in the head. Yellow flowers in the buds or very rough bumpy heads may indicate the broccoli is past its prime.
Fall Spinach Salad
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- Salt and ground black pepper to taste
- 1 cup baby spinach leaves
- 1 tablespoon dried cranberries
- 1 tablespoon chopped pecans
- 1/2 of an apple, cored and diced
- 1 tablespoon diced red onion
- 2 tablespoons grated carrot
- 1/4 of an avocado, peeled and diced
- 1-2 tablespoons balsamic salad dressing, or to taste
Stir the balsamic vinegar and honey together in a bowl; slowly stream the olive oil into the mixture while whisking continuously. Season with salt and pepper.
Place spinach, cranberries, pecans, apple, onion, carrot and avocado into a salad bowl. Drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette and toss to coat. Serve immediately.
Wild Rice, Kiwi and Grape Salad
- 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
- 1 cup wild rice
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 2 kiwis, peeled and diced
- 1 cup seedless red grapes, halved
- 1/4 cup toasted pecans
Place broth in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Add rice, reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 45 minutes, or until tender. Drain excess liquid, cover and let cool.
Whisk together lemon juice, oil and honey in a small bowl until the honey is dissolved. Season with salt and pepper.
Place cooled rice in a salad bowl, along with kiwi, grapes and pecans. Add dressing, gently toss and serve.
Cabbage Salad – Waldorf Style
- 1/4 head savoy cabbage
- 4 unpeeled apples, cored and diced
- 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
- 6 stalks celery, diced
- 1/3 cup reduced fat mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Slice cabbage into thin pieces 1 to 2 inches long. Do not use the large ribs of the cabbage, as they are too strongly flavored for this salad.
In a large serving bowl, toss together the cabbage, apples, walnuts and celery.
In a small bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, honey and salt. Mix with the cabbage salad until evenly coated. Serve immediately.
Beet, Fennel and Apple Salad
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest
- 1/2 teaspoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 medium cooked red beet, peeled and cut into matchsticks
- 1/2 fennel bulb, trimmed, halved lengthwise, cored, and cut into matchsticks
- 1/2 medium crisp tart apple such as Granny Smith, cored and cut into matchsticks
- 1/2 cup firmly packed chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
For the dressing, in a small bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, honey, salt and pepper.
In a medium bowl, toss together the beets, fennel, apple and parsley. Add the dressing and mix gently to coat all of the ingredients evenly. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate up to 8 hours. (If refrigerating, remove from the refrigerator and let stand 30 minutes before serving.
Fall Fruit & Nut Salad
- 3/4 cup cashew halves
- 4 slices bacon, coarsely chopped
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- 1 (10 ounce) package mixed salad greens
- 1 medium Bosc pear, thinly sliced
- 1 cup halved seedless red grapes
In a large, dry skillet over medium-high heat, toast cashews until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove cashews to a dish to cool slightly.
Return skillet to medium-high heat, cook bacon strips until crisp on both sides, about 7 minutes. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel. Coarsely chop bacon.
In a mixing bowl, stir together the bacon, rosemary, brown sugar, salt, cayenne pepper and toasted cashews.
In a small bowl, stir together white wine vinegar, mustard and honey. Slowly whisk in the olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.
In a large salad bowl, toss half the dressing with the greens, pear slices, grapes and sprinkle with nut/bacon mixture.
Serve with the remaining dressing in case anyone wants additional dressing on their salad.