Fall Harvest Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette
This Fall Harvest Salad is filled with some of the best seasonal flavors, including butternut squash, dried cranberries, apples, and kale. It’s so easy to throw together, colorful, filling, and delicious.
Enjoy this for dinner and save the leftovers for lunch the next day!
A Fall inspired Salad!
I have the BEST fall salad recipe to share with you today. Check out the colors in this gorgeous bowl, don’t you want to dive right in?
This salad combines so many great textures and autumn flavors: roasted butternut squash, crunchy pecans and pumpkin seeds, crumbled feta cheese, sweet cranberries, crispy apples, nutty quinoa, and hearty kale. All tossed together with a tangy apple cider vinaigrette.
Great for lunch, as a light dinner, or at your next holiday gathering!
To make this autumn salad, 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.
- Kale: Any variety, chopped into bite-sized pieces.
- Quinoa: You can use white, multi-color, or red quinoa for this recipe. Don’t forget to rinse it before cooking to get rid of the bitterness.
- Apples: Use a nice crunchy apple, chopped or sliced. Honeycrisp, Pink Lady, and Fuji are our favorites.
- Dried cranberries: Add sweetness and a pop of color.
- Nuts and seeds: Pecans and roasted pumpkin seeds add crunch, flavor, and healthy fats. You can make your own roasted pepitas or buy them at the store.
- Crumbled feta cheese: Lends creaminess and a salty punch.
- Apple cider vinaigrette: A simple, yet flavorful dressing made of honey, Dijon mustard, garlic, apple cider vinegar, and extra virgin olive oil.
HOW TO MAKE THIS easy autumun 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.
Make it your own
This salad recipe is very flexible, so feel free to play around with the ingredients and add in whatever you love most.
- Greens: I love this salad with curly kale, but baby arugula or spinach would also be delicious.
- Butternut squash: You could also use sweet potatoes or another kind of winter squash.
- Cheese: Swap the feta cheese with goat cheese or blue cheese. I also tried it with cubed Emmental cheese. So good!
- Nuts: I like plain pecans in this salad, feel free to use walnuts or candied pecans.
- Quinoa: Don’t have quinoa? Swap in wild rice, farro, or your favorite grain.
- Fruit: Use pears or figs instead of apples.
- Dried berries: Dried tart cherries or raisins are a great alternative to dried cranberries.
- Make it vegan/dairy-free: Leave out the cheese and sprinkle nutritional yeast over the top.
- Add protein: Toss in some chickpeas, leftover shredded chicken, or tofu.
Make-ahead and storage tips
Leftovers – This salad makes the perfect lunch the next day. Store leftovers in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Make-ahead and meal prepping – If you want to prepare this salad in advance I recommend storing the massaged kale, roasted butternut squash, and quinoa together in a sealed container in the fridge. Add the toppings, apple, and the remaining dressing just before serving.
If you make this recipe, please leave a feedback and rating in the comment section below. I always love hearing how it turns out for you! ♡
More Fall recipes for your Thanksgiving table:
- Roasted Pumpkin Apple Soup
- Cloverleaf Dinner Rolls
- Low Fat Apple Cake
- Savory Pumpkin Hummus
- Cranberry Mojito
Fall Harvest Salad Recipe
For the salad:
- 1 small butternut squash peeled, seeded, and diced
- ½ tablespoon olive oil
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- ⅔ cup (120 grams) raw quinoa
- 1 cup (240 ml) water
- 2 cups (130 grams) chopped kale leaves
- 2 small apples cored and sliced or diced
- ¼ cup (30 grams) dried cranberries
- ¼ cup (30 grams) pecans roughly chopped
- ⅓ cup (50 grams) crumbled feta cheese I used reduced-fat
- 1 ½ tablespoon roasted pumpkin seeds
For the apple cider vinaigrette:
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 ½ tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- ¾ tablespoon honey or maple syrup
- 1 ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 garlic clove minced
- salt and ground black pepper
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 each of salt and pepper. Transfer to the oven and 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
- Rinse the quinoa and drain. In a small saucepan, combine the quinoa with water and bring to a boil uncovered. When it starts to boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes or until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is light and fluffy.
make the dressing
- Whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl (or shake together in a mason jar) until combined. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper.
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.
- Servings: Serves 3 as a filling lunch or dinner
- Vinaigrette: it can an be made 2-3 days in advance and stored in the fridge. Shake the jar before using.
- Quinoa: it can be cooked several days ahead of time and stored in the fridge.
- Leftovers: leftovers will keep well for 2-3 days.
- Make-ahead: If you are making this salad in advance, add the apple slices + toppings right before serving.