Lately I’ve fallen prey to the amazing Fall displays at the grocery store. I walk in with a mission to get milk, bread, and baby yogurts… and somehow a butternut squash ends up in my basket. I get home and I’m like, “How did that delightful little sugar pumpkin get here?”
It’s so true. I have these quick fantasies that I’ll just whip up a homemade pumpkin pie during nap time. Right – that same “nap time” my kid is desperately trying to drop. As if I’ve ever made a pumpkin pie from scratch. Cause that’s what I need in my life – more dishes to wash.
Inevitably, I end up making some variation of pumpkin-butternut squash-sweet potato muffins. Which are delicious. And freeze really well. When I haven’t eaten ALL of them. Cue the dishwashing.
So when my husband asked that a salad be added to our weekly dinner plan, I headed straight to the Internet. Salad in the Fall? Geez, I love to cook, but I’ve already shifted to slow cooker and roasting season. As I was reviewing some options, it became pretty clear that a lean and healthy (but substantial) autumn dinner salad was a lot easier than I thought! I kept seeing the same equation over and over, so I’m here to share it with you. We’ve now tried several variations. They’ve all been quick, delicious and, frankly, they look impressive when placed on the table. And for that moms, you deserve a pat on the back.
- 1 Small to Medium Orange Fall Item (Try: Butternut Squash, Acorn Squash, Sugar Pumpkin)
- 1/4 cup Dried Fruit, chopped* (Try: Black Mission Figs, Dried Apricots, Dried Cranberries,
- Dried Cherries)
- 1/4 cup Nuts,** Small-Medium Pieces (Try: Pistachios, Walnuts, Pecans Halves
- Slivered Almonds)
- 1/3 cup Cheese (Try: Crumbly Gorgonzola, Crumbly Goat Cheese, Parmesan Reggiano, Gruyere, Toscano)
- 5-10 ounces of Greens (Try: Arugula, Spinach Mix, Kale, 50/50 Spinach Arugula, Mixed Greens)
- Olive oil - 2 Parts
- White balsamic vinegar - 1 Part
- Pinch of Salt
- Cracked Black Pepper to Taste
- Lemon Zest - 1/2 tsp
- So far, the only cooking involved is baking your Orange Fall Item (“OFI”). Halve your OFI, scoop out any seeds, place cut-side down in roasting dish.
- Add water until water rises ~1/2 inch up OFI.
- Bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes. Remove, let cool and chop OFI into large chunks.
- Layer your greens in a pretty dish and top with OFI and remaining ingredients.
- You’ve now assembled the basic starter Fall salad.
- Add your dressing (recipe below) and you can be on your merry way.
- Mix dressing ingredients and whisk for a minute before lightly tossing on salad. Bon appetite mama!
- 1/2 package chicken thighs (Approximately 4 thighs. Chop and add to salad warm after pan-searing or grilling with light salt/pepper and lemon zest)
- Warm roasted apple slices
- Warm roasted carrot slices
- Chopped pear
- *Aim to find unsweetened fruit to reduce sugar and calories.
- **Look for unsalted nuts