When the weather begins to cool, I turn my attention to cooking meals that are warming such as soups and stews. However, I still want the fresh, crisp salads I enjoyed all summer so I decided to make a salad that celebrates the fall season with hearty vegetables and warm grains. This salad can be served as a side dish to your dinner, or my favorite way, have it for lunch as a healthy, filling meal that will fuel the rest of your day.
Here is a quick rundown of the ingredients:
Quinoa: Known for being high in anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, and an excellent source of fiber, quinoa is a grain I always have in my pantry. I prefer the tri-color quinoa, but you can make whatever type you like.
Farro: This is another nutrient-dense grain that is a staple in my home. Low in fat, but high in fiber and protein, farro is not only great in salads but it can be added to soups or made into a risotto (my personal fave).
Kale: A member of the cabbage family, kale is among the most nutrient-dense foods in the world loaded with antioxidants and amazing health benefits. I’ve tried kale in smoothies, made kale chips, and I’ve even juiced kale (with other veggies and fruits), but kale as a salad is how I prefer to enjoy this powerhouse of a vegetable. I usually buy the green, curly leaf kale, but feel free to use your favorite, ie. baby kale, purple, etc. for this salad.
Sweet Potato: A super nutritious root vegetable, sweet potatoes contain B vitamins, calcium, and essential vitamins and minerals vital to our health. Growing up my mom would make boiled sweet potatoes cut into thick slices and drizzled with a butter/brown sugar “gravy” over the top (not the healthiest, but it got us eating this vegetable). Not only are sweet potatoes delicious roasted, and baked, but I’ve made sweet potato pancakes, muffins, even gnocchi and loved them all. For this salad, we’ll roast the sweet potatoes skin on.
Pumpkin Seeds: Also known as pepitas, pumpkin seed is the edible seed of a pumpkin and is packed with antioxidants and nutrients. Pumpkin seeds are a great snack to enjoy alone (especially roasted), but they can be added to nut mixes, used for baking, and are a delicious addition to homemade granola bars, I love the additional crunch and mild flavor they add to this salad. You can easily find pumpkin seeds at your local supermarket or health food store.
Craisins: Although dried craisins are high in sugar, we’re only going to add a sprinkling to this salad for an addition of color, texture, and especially their sweet, tart flavor.
Lemon Herb Dressing: A blend of fresh lemon, herbs, dijon mustard, and honey for a bit of sweetness, this dressing marries all the flavors of the salad together resulting in a harmonious perfect bite. Full recipe following salad recipe.
Fall Harvest Recipe:
2 cups curly leaf kale
1/4 cup cooked quinoa, cooked according to package instructions
1/4 cup cooked farro, cooked according to package instructions
1 small sweet potato, cubed
a sprinkling of pumpkin seeds
a sprinkling of craisins
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Toss the cubed sweet potato in salt and olive oil and roast in the oven for approximately 20 minutes, or until the potatoes have started to brown. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool down a few minutes.
- Pull the leaves off the kale from the stem, wash them thoroughly, and remove excess water with a towel or salad spinner. Usually, I’ll give the leaves a rough chop into smaller bite-size pieces.
- If I’ve prepared the farro and quinoa ahead of time, I like to warm them in the microwave for just 30-45 seconds or so to take the chill out.
- Layer the warm grains on the bottom of a dish and put the chopped kale on top.
- Add in a handful of the roasted sweet potato, and a sprinkling of the pumpkin seeds, and craisins.
- Add one tablespoon or so of the dressing to toss the salad (that’s usually plenty for me) or add more if you’d like.
Make the Lemon Herb Salad Dressing
Juice of two lemons
2 tablespoons of fresh cilantro
1 garlic clove
1 tablespoon of honey
2 teaspoons of mayonnaise
1/4 olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Pulse all of the ingredients in a food processor and then add the olive oil to blend all the ingredients until well-combined. Store in an airtight jar for up to one week.