I always feel like I tend to eat healthier in the summer months. I’m surrounded by farmer’s markets filled with fresh vegetables that all come together in delicious salads for my lunches and dinners. As the temperatures begin to change I find myself slowing forgetting that salads even exist and replace my healthy meals with rich comfort foods. But I’ve got news; it doesn’t have to be that way.
There are plenty of fall vegetables and flavors that can come together and form a comfort salad for the season. Mixing and matching any of my below suggestions can help you stay inspired and healthy throughout these fall months and keep you eating nutrient rich salads. First, pick a fruit to sweeten up your salad. Some of my favorites include apples, pears and grapes. Apple picking season should be in full swing in any neck of the woods. I like to slice up half of an apple for my salad and save the other half for an afternoon snack. To balance out the sweet, mix in some of my favorite harvest vegetables including beets, butternut squash, and sweet potatoes. You can cook a butternut squash earlier in the week, cut it into cubes and have an easy salad topper all week long. Next let’s talk about the cheese and the nuts. Fall salads call for a rich and flavorful cheese such as blue or Gorgonzola. These aged cheeses can be potent in their flavors but creamy in texture and are a perfect complement to pears, squash and beets. When it comes to nuts I prefer walnuts, pecans or hazelnuts. Toasting these nuts can keep them on the lighter side but if you’re interested in being more adventurous I suggest trying a candied pecan or walnut to top your salad. Finally we have to dress your salad. I like to stick with lighter vinaigrettes such as balsamic or a spinach salad dressing that includes a hint of bacon and a tangy vinegar taste. Be careful not to overdo the dressing, you are already piling your salads with rich flavors and often times extra dressing isn’t needed. My salad today starts with a bed of baby spinach and is topped with both apples and pears for a sweet taste. I opted for the often forgotten hazelnut to add some additional crunch and made sure to toast them for 20 minutes in the oven to really make them explode in your mouth. Gorgonzola is one of my favorite cheeses and can often be milder than a blue. If you’re not a fan of blue cheese, I would test out Gorgonzola. I decided to top this salad with the Litehouse Spinach Salad dressing to bring all of the flavors together and add a little taste of bacon. Because honestly, who doesn’t love a little bacon on their salad? Salads don’t just have to be a summer food and if you go outside of the box just a little you can really enjoy salads all the way into the winter months. If you’re not familiar with beets or squash on a salad I highly suggest giving them a shot. You might surprise yourself with how much you like them!