Fall Harvest Salad

This vibrant Fall Harvest Salad is loaded with Autumn flavors and ingredients: roasted butternut squash, apple, pear, crunchy pecans, pumpkin seeds, pomegranate, spinach, feta cheese, and homemade maple vinaigrette dressing. Impress your family and friends by serving it as a side, lunch, or a simple weeknight meal on chilly Fall and Winter nights. Make this crowd-pleasing salad for the holidays (Thanksgiving and Christmas) or bring it to picnics, potlucks, and parties.

Fall Harvest Salad with Spinach, Butternut Squash, Apple, Pear, Pecans, Pumpkin Seeds, Bacon, Feta Cheese, Pomegranate Arils in a white bowl.

Fall harvest salad

This Fall Salad is a delicious combo of sweet, savory, and tangy flavors. The butternut squash is roasted in the oven until crispy and soft. Toasted pecans and pepitas (pumpkin seeds) provide a crunchy texture. Apple, pear, and pomegranate arils add sweet and tart flavors. Feta cheese creates creaminess. All these ingredients are tossed together with fresh baby spinach, chopped bacon, and maple-lime dressing to create the most delicious Fall harvest salad that a whole family can enjoy. It’s easy to assemble and makes an effortless beautiful presentation for the holidays (Thanksgiving and Christmas) or through the Autumn and Winter seasons. Serve it as a side, or add protein to turn this into a complete meal on a busy weekday. My 2 other favorite Autumn salads for the holiday season are roasted sweet potato and spinach salad and simple apple spinach salad with cranberries, goat cheese, and maple-lime mustard dressing.

Fall Harvest Salad with Spinach, Butternut Squash, Apple, Pear, Pecans, Pumpkin Seeds, Bacon, Feta Cheese, Pomegranate Arils in a white bowl.

Why make it

  • Fresh salad. This recipe is packed with fresh ingredients, such as spinach, butternut squash, apple, pear, pecans, pumpkin seeds, and pomegranate. I also used bacon to add a savory and salty flavor but you can easily omit it if you like.
  • Showstopper side dish for the holidays. This Fall harvest salad has this “wow” factor that will have your guests going back for seconds. This recipe is naturally vibrant and colorful thanks to the bright and festive ingredients. It will fit well with traditional Thanksgiving sides.
  • Great for meal prep. Many ingredients can be made in advance and kept refrigerated for a day or two before the final assembly. A perfect recipe for a busy weeknight or to bring to parties, picnics, potlucks, and other gatherings with friends and family.
  • Flexible recipe. Customize it with your favorite greens, veggies, fruit, nuts, cheese, or other add-ins or substitutions.

Traditional holiday ingredients

The ingredients in this simple Fall harvest salad are festive and colorful, and we often associate them with the Fall and Winter seasons, as well as holidays, such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve.

  • Butternut squash is an excellent source of vitamins A, B6, C, and E, as well as several minerals, including magnesium, manganese, and potassium. Butternut squash is also rich in dietary fiber. This delicious vegetable is known for its subtly sweet and nutty flavor.
  • Pecans are packed with fiber and are rich in many nutrients. This includes zinc and Vitamin B1. These tasty nuts add crunch and texture to any Fall salad. I like to lightly toast them in the preheated oven at 350 F for about 10 minutes to add more crunch.
  • Pumpkin seeds add crunch and texture. I like to toast them briefly for about 10 minutes in the preheated oven at 350 F. Watch the seeds carefully to make sure they don’t burn.
  • Spinach is packed with nutrients and antioxidants. It’s high in fiber and a good source of many vitamins and minerals. Spinach is a great source of vitamins A and C, as well as folic acid, iron, and calcium. I used baby spinach.
  • Pomegranate.  Sprinkle the salad with the ultimate Autumn and Winter fruit, the pomegranate seeds (or arils).  They add tangy and sweet flavor as well as create a beautiful presentation.
  • Feta cheese adds a salty and tangy flavor. This brined cheese is usually made from sheep’s milk or from a mixture of goat and sheep’s milk. It’s easy to crumble and works great in salads.
  • Bacon – use chopped, cooked bacon.  It’s easy to cook the bacon on a foil-lined baking sheet in the oven at 350 F for about 20 or 30 minutes. Drain all grease from the bacon using paper towels.
  • Salad dressing ingredients include extra virgin olive oil, maple syrup, freshly squeezed lime juice, and Dijon mustard.

Fall Harvest Salad with Spinach, Butternut Squash, Apple, Pear, Pecans, Pumpkin Seeds, Bacon, Feta Cheese, Pomegranate Arils in a white bowl.

How to roast pecans and pumpkin seeds

  • If you purchased raw nuts and seeds, I highly recommend roasting them in the preheated oven at 350 F for about 10 minutes until the pecans get just a little bit darker, and the pumpkin seeds turn a little bit brown from green.
  • If you purchased roasted nuts and seeds (or salted ones), you don’t have to roast them, but roasting them briefly and carefully will certainly freshen them up!

How to roast butternut squash

  • Preheat the oven to 400 F.
  • In a large bowl, toss cubed butternut squash with olive oil, salt, pepper, and fresh herbs (optional). Spread the squash on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet in one layer, without overcrowding.
  • Roast in the preheated oven on the middle rack at 400 F for 30 minutes.

How to prevent sliced apples and pears from browning

  • Option 1. Toss the apples and pears in lemon juice (or equal parts lemon juice and water) to keep them from browning.
  • Option 2. Toss sliced apples and pears in apple juice.
  • Option 3. The best solution, though, is to chop them up right before serving the salad. It doesn’t take much time, especially if you prepped the rest of the ingredients as described in the section below. ⬇️

How to make it ahead

Lots of ingredients can be prepped in advance for this Fall harvest salad so that you can spend less time in the kitchen and more time with your family and friends during Thanksgiving. Here are some tips:

  • Roast butternut squash up to 3 days in advance. Keep it refrigerated in an airtight container and warm it up slightly when ready to use.
  • Cook and chop bacon up to 3 days in advance. Keep it refrigerated in the same container with roasted butternut squash.
  • Roast pecans and pumpkin seeds in the oven up to 3 days in advance. Cool them completely and keep them separate from other ingredients to prevent them from getting soggy. Store them in a Ziploc plastic bag.
  • Prepare the salad dressing up to 3 days in advance and store it refrigerated in a glass mason jar.
  • Remove pomegranate arils from the shell. Keep them in a Ziploc plastic bag.
  • The assembly should take only 10 minutes before serving for the best results and freshness.
  • Tip: don’t add the pecans, pepitas (pumpkin seeds), feta cheese, and salad dressing until right before serving to keep the salad fresh and to prevent the nuts and the seeds from getting soggy.

Fall Harvest Salad with Spinach, Butternut Squash, Apple, Pear, Pecans, Pumpkin Seeds, Bacon, Feta Cheese, Pomegranate Arils in a white bowl.

Variations, substitutions, add-ins, and helpful tips

You can easily customize this Fall harvest with your favorite greens, veggies, fruits, nuts, cheese, or other add-ins or substitutions.

  • Veggies. If you can’t find butternut squash, you can use sweet potatoes instead. Sweet potatoes are usually available year-round so you can make this salad even when the butternut squash is out of season!
  • Purchase peeled and pre-cut butternut squash at your local grocery stores. Many stores carry it during the holiday season and also in the Fall and Winter. This will save you a ton of time in prepping this recipe.
  • Greens. Use your favorite greens – spinach, arugula, mixed greens, garden greens, and lettuce.
  • Fruit. I used apples and pears. You can add diced mango, orange slices, or mandarin oranges. They will add not only flavor but also a festive look to your Fall harvest salad!
  • Nuts. I recommend using pecans, cashews, walnuts, or almonds. If using raw nuts – toast them briefly in the oven to make them crunchy. You can also buy candied nuts or flavored nuts (salty, roasted, etc.).
  • Seeds. Add pumpkin seeds (pepitas) or sunflower seeds. If using raw seeds, toast them briefly in the oven to make them crunchy.
  • Cheese. I recommend using the following varieties: feta cheese, goat cheese (any flavor), gorgonzola, and crumbled blue cheese.
  • Bacon. Use regular bacon, turkey bacon, or bacon bits.  Toasted (crisped up) prosciutto or pancetta will work great, too.
  • Buy pomegranate arils in a container at a grocery store. This will save you time and you will not have to remove the seeds from a whole pomegranate.
  • Salad dressing. This recipe uses maple syrup, mustard, olive oil, and lime juice. You can also use honey and lemon juice.
  • Add protein, such as chicken, steak, shrimp, or salmon to turn this harvest salad into a complete meal. Grilled chicken, leftover chicken, and rotisserie chicken work especially well.

What to serve with it

This festive Fall Harvest salad pairs well with any holiday main course for Thanksgiving or Christmas. It’s a great sidekick for the Thanksgiving turkey, Christmas ham, or holiday prime rib. You can also add simple yet deliciously prepared protein, such as chicken or shrimp to elevate this salad to a complete meal for a simple weeknight dinner. Here are some tasty recipes that you can make in just 30 minutes to add as a topping to your Fall harvest salad:

Other Fall salads you might like

If you want to discover other colorful and vibrant Fall harvest salads for Thanksgiving and Christmas, check out these recipes:

Fall Harvest Salad with Spinach, Butternut Squash, Apple, Pear, Pecans, Pumpkin Seeds, Bacon, Feta Cheese, Pomegranate Arils in a white bowl.

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Fall Harvest Salad

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This vibrant Fall Harvest Salad is loaded with Autumn flavors and ingredients: roasted butternut squash, apple, pear, crunchy pecans, pumpkin seeds, pomegranate, spinach, feta cheese, and homemade maple-lime vinaigrette dressing. Impress your family and friends by serving it as a side, lunch, or dinner on chilly Fall and Winter nights. Make this crowd-pleasing salad for the holidays (Thanksgiving and Christmas) or bring it to picnics, potlucks, and parties.
Course Salad
Cuisine American, Mediterranean
Keyword fall harvest salad, fall salad
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 6 people
Calories 500kcal
Author Julia

Ingredients

Roasted butternut squash

  • 1 lb butternut squash peeled, seeded, and cubed into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Salad dressing

  • cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
  • 1 large lime (or lemon) – juice freshly squeezed

Salad ingredients

  • 1 cup pecan halves toasted, some of them chopped finely
  • ½ cup pumpkin seeds toasted
  • 1 red apple cored and sliced
  • 1 pear cored and sliced
  • 6 oz baby spinach
  • cup feta cheese crumbled
  • cup pomegranate arils or more
  • 6 slices bacon cooked and chopped

Instructions

How to roast butternut squash

  • Preheat oven to 400 F. Line the baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Toss cubed butternut squash (peeled and seeded) and 1 tablespoon of olive oil together on a baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Arrange butternut squash in a single layer (without overcrowding) on the baking sheet. Roast for 20-30 minutes, until softened.
  • Proceed with the rest of the recipe while the butternut squash is in the oven.

Make salad dressing

  • Combine all salad dressing ingredients in a mason jar. Whisk well with a fork, until emulsified. Add more lime juice to taste.

Assembly – Option 1

  • I prefer to arrange the salad in individual bowls for presentation purposes.
  • Add spinach to each individual salad bowl. Top with the remaining salad ingredients, including roasted butternut squash.
  • Drizzle with the salad dressing.

Assembly – Option 2

  • Alternatively, you can combine all the salad ingredients in a large serving bowl, add the dressing, and toss to combine.

Assembly – Option 3

  • Alternatively, arrange the salad as shown in the photo directly below this recipe card (layering each ingredient separately on top of the bed of baby spinach) ⬇️ in a large salad serving platter. Use tongs to combine everything together when serving. Serve salad dressing on the side.

Notes

Steps that can be done up to 3 days in advance – keep these ingredients in separate, airtight containers in the fridge:
  • Roast butternut squash.
  • Toast pecans and pumpkin seeds in the preheated oven at 350 F for about 10 minutes. This is especially recommended for raw nuts and seeds. But even if you bought already roasted or flavored nuts, freshen them up by toasting them for about 5 or 10 minutes.
  • Cook bacon in the preheated oven at 350 F for about 20 minutes. Drain all fat with paper towels. Chop it up.
  • Remove the pomegranate seeds from the shell.

 

Nutrition

Calories: 500kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 40g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 8g | Monounsaturated Fat: 23g | Trans Fat: 0.03g | Cholesterol: 22mg | Sodium: 351mg | Potassium: 717mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 16g | Vitamin A: 10783IU | Vitamin C: 31mg | Calcium: 145mg | Iron: 3mg

Fall Harvest Salad with Spinach, Butternut Squash, Apple, Pear, Pecans, Pumpkin Seeds, Bacon, Feta Cheese, Pomegranate Arils in a white bowl.

 

Fall Harvest Salad with Spinach, Butternut Squash, Apple, Pear, Pecans, Pumpkin Seeds, Bacon, Feta Cheese, Pomegranate Arils in a white bowl.

The post Fall Harvest Salad appeared first on Julia's Album.

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