Enjoy many of autumn's seasonal ingredients with a fall harvest salad.
Mix it up
If given the chance or inclination, I would eat salad for every meal. A salad has so much possibility, so much promise. But think past the basic iceberg dinner salad with a couple of carrot shreds and thick slices of cucumber. Have some fun and experiment with ingredients.
Texture can make all the difference between a good salad and a boo-hoo sad salad. Consider a combination of crunchy and chewy or salty and briny or sweet and biting. Also, the play between vegetables and fruits can add a richer depth of flavor.
I think the most basic step to enhance a salad is a combination of greens. I like to have tender lettuces mixed with sturdier greens and bitter lettuce like arugula opposite a mild type like bibb. One step that really brings out the flavor is to lightly season the greens with salt and pepper as the salad is composed. You'll be surprised at the difference this step brings.
Fall harvest salad
Seasonal ingredients are a great inspiration for a refreshing salad. Embracing the heartier vegetables that are now in season, toss delicata squash with olive oil and roast in the oven. No need to peel - the peel softens as it roasts and adds texture to the salad.
Toss with some thinly sliced red onion for bite, roasted hazelnuts for crunch, and dried cherries for sweetness, and you have a rich and hearty salad. I like to add shards of a hard and salty cheese, like manchego. Using a vegetable peeler, shave off pieces from a block of cheese.
Maple mustard vinaigrette
I often think that the make it or break it moment for a salad is the dressing. After carefully choosing the components of a salad, give the dressing the same consideration. This maple mustard vinaigrette has a lovely, vinegary punch for the hearty greens. And the maple syrup enhances the natural sweetness of the delicata squash.
Taking advantage of seasonal ingredients, have fun with your next salad. Sweet and savory, crunchy and chewy, bitter and mild, this fall harvest salad is an entertaining mix of opposites.
Fall Harvest Salad
- 1 delicata squash 12-16 ounces
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup dried cherries
- ½ cup red onion sliced
- ½ cup hazelnuts
- ½ cup manchego cheese
- 6 cups lettuce assorted greens such as baby kale, arugula, watercress, or mesclun mix
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon stone-ground mustard
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- salt and pepper
- Preheat oven, 425 °
- Wash the greens and let them drain while the other ingredients are prepped.
- Cut the delicata squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Cut the halves into ¼-inch half-moons. Place on a sheet pan and toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. The amount of olive oil needed depends on the size of the squash. If you have a smaller squash you may not need a full 2 tablespoons of oil. Place in oven.
- Roast for 10 minutes. Flip the pieces over and roast for an additional 10 minutes.
- While the squash is in the oven, put the hazelnuts on another sheet pan and roast for about 6-7 minutes, just until golden brown. Once cooled off, rough chop the nuts.
- Thinly slice the red onion.
- Using a vegetable peeler, slice very thin shards of manchego cheese.
Make the vinaigrette
- Add the vinegar to a small bowl. Add about ½ teaspoon salt to the bowl and wait until it is dissolved. The mustard and the maple syrup are added next. Whisk until completely combined. In a steady stream, add the olive oil and continue to whisk. Adjust the seasoning by adding pepper.
- Combine all the salad ingredients in a large bowl. Add the vinaigrette and toss to coat.