This post contains affiliate links – thank you for supporting the brands that help make this blog possible. With few key ingredients and an endless list of potential customizations, the best fall salad is the perfect tapestry for your imagination to run wild - and the perfect cure for dreary fall days and failing spirits. Adapted from the must-have Food52 Genius Recipes.
I fell in love with the best fall salad last year, when I followed a recipe from the Food52 Genius Recipes cookbook. Excited, I shot the resulting concoction of kale, butternut squash and pumpkin seeds and went to edit the photos in Lightroom. Imagine my surprise when I saw that I had already made the same salad a year ago! That's when I knew this recipe was a keeper, one I simply had to share with you.
For some reason, when the weather turns and my mood becomes as grey as the clouds overhead, I turn to salads. To heal, I bake. To celebrate, I can. But to deal with the endless grey, the gathering clouds, the loss of hope? For that, I make salad. And if it's the best fall salad, even better.
Some of my salads are simple, requiring no more than some favourite pickles and a few fresh vegetables, or a selection of fresh ingredients. Others make use of leftovers grains, repurposing them for seasonal creations. Others are a whole production in and of themselves. But inevitably, they all manage to lift my spirits when it seems like nothing else could.
Without mincing words, I give you the blueprint for the best fall salad you'll ever try. Relying on a few simple ingredient categories, this salad is the perfect opening for seeing what's in your fridge and just running with it. Out of kale? Use arugula. Got no almonds? Roasted peanuts will do just fine. Don't have butternut squash, but that sweet potato has been staring at you for days? Go for it.
Whatever you do, however you play it, the best fall salad of your life is waiting just around the corner, ready to brighten up even the darkest of days.
(Note that most of the recipes I tried from Food52 Genius Recipes cookbook were no less, well, than the best. You'd be well advised to have this genius cookbook on your shelf).
The best fall salad
- ½ cup 70g peeled, cubed squash (butternut, kabocha, acorn, or even summer squash or sweet potatoes will do)
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 bunch kale preferably lacinato or dinosaur kale, ribs removed and leaves finely sliced, about 2½ cups (170g) OR arugula
- ¼ cup 35g almonds, cut roughly in half OR any other nut of your choice (hazelnuts, pecans and peanuts all produce great results)
- ¼ cup 35g crumbled or finely chopped cheddar (if you can’t find aged cheddar, use Parmesan) OR Granny Smith apples, if looking for a vegan variation
- Fresh lemon juice
- Parmesan, Pecorino or other hard cheese OR 4 TBs nutritional yeast (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
- Toss the squash or sweet potato cubes in just enough oil to coat and season with salt and pepper. Spread on the baking sheet, leaving space between the cubes. Roast in the oven until tender and caramelized, about 40 minutes, tossing with a spatula every 10 to 15 minutes. Toast the nuts on a baking sheet in the same oven until they start to smell nutty, tossing once, about 10 minutes. Let cool.
- In a large mixing bowl, toss the kale with the nuts, cheddar or apples, and squash. Season to taste with lemon juice and olive oil (using about 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 2 tablespoons oil). Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with fresh parmesan, pecorino or nutritional yeast, and serve.Salad will keep up to two days.