20/07/2024

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Fall Harvest Salad Recipe • Kath Eats

Fall Harvest Salad Recipe • Kath Eats

This fall harvest salad recipe is made with massaged kale as the base and topped with roasted butternut squash, crumbled blue cheese, sliced honeycrisp apple, and crunchy spiced pecans. A maple and apple cider dressing brings it all together.

The first day of fall for me is the first day there is a crisp in the air

I absolutely love autumn weather – the drop in humidity, the shadows that seem to stretch for miles off of plants still full of leaves. Chilly mornings and warm afternoons. And of course all the fall flavors that come around this time of year! 

This is a fall harvest salad I’ve made over and over again. The flavors are top notch: warming spices, roasted vegetables, gourds, and hearty kale.

This fall harvest salad is a bit heartier than summery ones thanks to lots of satisfying fiber from chopped kale and roasted butternut squash. This salad is not only wholesome and nutritious but filling and satisfying as well. The contrast in flavors between cinnamon-dusted squash, tart blue cheese, and crunchy sweet pecans is heaven on earth. 

Fall Harvest Salad Recipe

The kale gets massaged in a simple maple syrup and apple cider vinegar salad dressing. Just a hint of garlic flavor goes a long way. 

This fall salad recipe makes a colorful addition on your holiday table as well, whether its the main course at a ladies lunch (add some grilled chicken on top) or as a side dish to a Thanksgiving table. I like to keep it somewhat disassembled in the fridge so I can assemble it quickly at meal time, whether that’s to enjoy a little everyday for lunch or as a served dish. 

Fall Harvest Salad Recipe

Fall Harvest Salad Recipe

Salad Ingredients

Butternut Squash – either one large whole squash or a tub of pre-cubed squash from the grocery store

Kale – a large head, 2 mediums, or a bag of pre-chopped to save time

Honeycrisp Apple – my favorite but use whatever you like!

Spiced Pecans – you can also use plain and toast them. Or another kind of spiced nut. 

Blue Cheese – Bleu d’auvergne is my favorite variety. Buy it in a block and crumbled it yourself. Lately I’ve been on a huge gorgonzola kick, so that is a great option as well. 

Cinnamon – Just a dusting for the squash to roast in. 

Maple + Apple Cider Vinaigrette

  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Salt + pepper

Substitutions

  • Butternut is my favorite squash to roast! Acorn squash would work too. You can also use roasted sweet potato or even roasted pumpkin (along with its pumpkin seeds, roasted and spiced) if you don’t love butternut squash. 
  • You can use mixed greens if you’d prefer and toss them with the dressing at serving time.
  • Blue cheese not your thing? Feta cheese or goat cheese would work too.
  • Sub sliced pear for apple. 
  • Add pomegranate seeds for more juicy texture. 
  • Instead of pecans, you can use toasted walnuts, slivered almonds, or marcona almonds. 

Butternut Squash and kale

Instructions

Step 1: Roast Squash

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. If using a whole butternut, wash the squash, peel off the skin, slice it in half, de-seed, and chop into cubes. 

Spread cubes of butternut squash out on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle on cinnamon. Massage butternut until well coated and bake for 30-35 minutes, until fork tender and browning at the edges.

Roast Squash

Step 2: Prep Ingredients

While squash bakes, wash and dry kale and remove any stems. Chop the kale into small pieces. Slice the honeycrisp apple thinly. Crumble blue cheese with a fork or clean fingers.

Step 3: Make The Dressing

To make the dressing, grate or press garlic clove (use as little or as much as you like, depending on your palate) and combine all ingredients in a jar and whisk or shake. I love using a microplane zester to ensure the garlic is almost a paste. Remember: a little goes a long way! 

fall salad dressing

Step 4: Massage Kale and Marinate

Massage kale with dressing using clean hands until kale is bright green and softens – longer than you think! Allow to sit and marinate at least 20 minutes, but up to a few hours. You may need to add more dressing at serving time since the kale will absorb some of the dressing as it sinks in. 

Massage Kale and Marinate

Step 5: Assemble Salad

Add massaged and dressed kale to a large bowl and toss with roasted butternut squash, apple, pecans, and blue cheese. Add any remaining dressing. I hold any proteins to serve on top rather than mixing in, but if you’re using something like chicken cubes, go ahead and mix it in! 

Step 6: Serve

Easy fall salad recipe

Recipe Notes

Shortcuts: Save yourself a bunch of steps if you can find pre-cubed butternut squash for a good price at the grocery store. 

Add-ons: Add a grain like wheatberries, quinoa, or bulgur for extra protein and fiber. Pomegranate arils or dried cranberries would add a bit more sweetness. 

Make-ahead: This is a great make-ahead salad because massaged kale gets better with time! If you know you’ll be making it well in advance, reserve a little dressing to add at serving time since a lot of it gets soaked into the kale in the fridge. Also, leave pecans out and add at the last minute to keep them from getting soggy. 

Serve: Serve as a side, a light lunch or as a base for a meal salad with protein of your choice on top. Grilled chicken or leftover holiday turkey would be ideal. I also love it with salmon! 

Store: Store in an air-tight container in the fridge for 2-3 days. 

Fall Harvest Salad Recipe

This fall harvest salad recipe is made with massaged kale as the base and topped with roasted butternut squash, crumbled blue cheese, sliced honeycrisp apple, and crunchy spiced pecans. A Maple-Apple Cider Dressing brings it all together.

Keyword blue cheese, butternut squash, kale, pecans
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • Butternut squash 32 ounces, 1 large or 1 container of pre-cubed
  • 1 large head or 12 cups of kale
  • 1 honeycrisp apple
  • 1/3 cup spiced pecans
  • 1/3 cup blue cheese
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • Olive oil salt and pepper

Maple + Apple Cider Vinaigrette

  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Salt + pepper

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

  • Wash butternut squash, peel, slice in half, de-seed, and chop into cubes. Use a pre-cubed container for a shortcut.

  • Spread cubes of butternut squash out on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle on cinnamon. Massage butternut until well coated and bake for 30-35 minutes, until fork tender and browning at the edges.

  • While squash bakes, wash and dry kale and remove any stems. Chop into small pieces. Slice apple thinly. Crumble blue cheese.

  • To make the dressing, grate garlic clove and combine all ingredients in a jar and whisk or shake.

  • Massage kale with dressing using clean hands until kale is bright green and softens. Allow to sit and marinate at least 20 minutes.

  • Add kale to a large bowl and toss with roasted butternut squash, apple, pecans, and blue cheese.

  • Serve as a side, a light lunch or as a base for a meal salad with protein of your choice on top.

More Harvest Meal Ideas: