This Healthy Fall Salad is filled with some of the best seasonal flavors, including roasted butternut squash, dried cranberries, crunchy pecans, pumpkin seeds, crumbled feta cheese, crispy apples, quinoa, and hearty kale. All tossed together with a tangy apple cider vinaigrette. It’s so easy to throw together, colorful, filling, and delicious.
This salad recipe is flexible, so feel free to play around with the ingredients and add whatever you like. This is what you will need:
- Butternut squash: peeled, cubed, and roasted in the oven. If you want to save time, you can buy pre-cut butternut squash. You could also use sweet potato or another type of winter squash.
- Kale or arugula or spinach. If you want to save time, you could use the Sweet Kale Chopped Salad Mix.
- Quinoa or Rice: you can use any kind.
- Apples: use a nice crunchy apple, chopped or sliced. Honeycrisp, Pink Lady, and Fuji are my favorites. Or you could use pears or figs.
- Dried cranberries or raisins add sweetness.
- Nuts and seeds: pecans, walnuts, or roasted pumpkin seeds add crunch, flavor, and healthy fats.
- Crumbled feta cheese, goat, or blue cheese
- Apple cider vinaigrette: a simple yet flavorful dressing made of honey, Dijon mustard, garlic, apple cider vinegar, and extra virgin olive oil
- Protein: toss in some ground turkey, shredded chicken, or chickpeas
HOW TO MAKE THIS EASY SALAD
Roast the butternut squash. Toss with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast until tender.
Cook the quinoa, and once it’s ready, fluff it with a fork and let it cool.
Prepare the dressing. The apple cider vinaigrette comes together in 2 minutes. Put all the ingredients in a mason jar, and shake until combined.
Massage the kale. Kale can be tough and bitter. Massage it with half of the dressing to bring out the sweetness and make it more tender. Add the kale to a salad bowl with 1/2 of the dressing, and toss until it’s evenly coated.
Assemble – Add the quinoa, butternut squash, and apples into the bowl with the kale, and toss to combine.
Serve – Divide the salad between 3 plates, add the toppings, drizzle the remaining vinaigrette over the top, and serve
For the salad:
- One butternut squash peeled, seeded, and diced
- ½ tablespoon oil of choice
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 cup quinoa or rice
- 2 cups chopped kale leaves
- Two small apples, pears, or figs sliced or dice
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
- ¼ cup pecans roughly chopped
- ⅓ cup reduced-fat crumbled feta cheese
- 2 tbsp nuts or seeds
For the apple cider vinaigrette:
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegarette
- 1 tbsp maple syrup or honey
- 1.5 tsp Dijon mustard
- One garlic clove minced
Roast the butternut
Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).On a baking sheet, toss together the butternut squash, olive oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Roast for 16 minutes, flipping halfway through cooking until the squash is tender.Remove from the oven and let it cool completely.
Cook the Quinoa
Make The Dressing
- Whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl (or shake together in a mason jar) until combined.
Massage the kale
- Place the kale in a large bowl and pour half of the vinaigrette over the top. Use your hands to gently massage the dressing into the kale for about 30 seconds until it starts to soften.
Assemble the salad
- Add the quinoa, roasted butternut, and apples into the bowl with the kale and toss to combine. Divide the salad between 3 plates, then top with the chopped pecans, toasted pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries, and crumbled feta cheese. Drizzle the remaining vinaigrette over the top, and serve.