Summer ends and simultaneously the word salad drops from our vocabulary. But it doesn’t have to, because fall and winter provide ample opportunities to enjoy seasonal salads, typically heartier, grain-based ones that also incorporate ingredients such as root veggies, dark greens, dried fruit, nuts, and richer cheeses. In fact, during this time of year, a salad can easily become a main dish.
A good friend of mine recently served a salad made up of quinoa, apples, raw kale, cranberries, and cubes of gouda cheese. It was wholesome, delicious, and filling—and I loved that surprise twist of the gouda cheese. She found the idea on Pinterest (of course!). After that, I vowed to start making more salads in that tradition, and I’ve been paying close attention to restaurant menus for inspiration. At a Moroccan tapas place, I fell in love with a beet salad (beets and turnips make for great additions!); the beets had been bathed in a cumin vinaigrette and tossed with greens and goat cheese, and I realized that sometimes it’s as simple as adding a twist in terms of dressing to turn something basic into something seriously mouthwatering. Look for unique vinaigrettes and let them do the heavy lifting when it comes to flavor.
I also love what you can do this time of year with all of the incredible squash varieties, like acorn or butternut squash, the sweetness of which pairs beautifully with fall fruits like apples and pears and the flavor of which can be heightened by the addition of powerhouse Middle Eastern spices such as za’atar or aleppo. Any grain, be it quinoa, freekeh, faro, or wheatberries, works as a base, and may help prevent conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. And because most of the ingredients (aside from the grain) don’t need to be cooked, these types of salads are easy to whip together. You can even cheat by buying items like precubed squash from the grocery store to make it truly hassle-free.
Here are a couple recipes for standout fall salads, one that gets a pop of flavor from pomegranate and another that gets it from fennel and a cider vinaigrette.
Roasted Apple and Fennel Salad with Cider Vinaigrette
from Plated by Elana Karp and Suzanne Dumaine
Serves 2 – 4
Photo Credit: VICUSCHKA/Shutterstock