This fall chopped salad is packed with a variety of autumn-inspired ingredients. It’s the perfect way to welcome October’s chillier temps. Seasonal and satisfying, this dish makes for a hearty lunch or light dinner — the kind of salad that leaves you feeling nourished from the inside, out.
As September comes to a close, I find myself teetering between summer’s sweet, lighter fare and fall’s hearty, grounding ingredients. This time of year is the essence of the in between — mornings are glorious, but daylight is waning, and although the afternoons are still warm, winter is on the horizon. It’s all a lesson in enjoying the here and now. Thus, we’ve been spending our weekends up in the mountains, relishing in fall’s fleeting metamorphosis.
Inevitably, my cravings are following suit. I’m still buying pints of blueberries pounds of zucchini, but apples, pears, and purple cabbage are making their way into our kitchen. Raw, roasted, or steamed, these foods are a wonderful way to switch up repetitive meals and snacks. They’re also also an easy way to diversify nutrition, especially when boosting immunity is key. Unlike years past, I’m even more inspired to take advantage of autumn’s harvest, thanks to our (almost!) seven-month-old baby. He’s now eating purees and solids on a daily basis.
This salad was born from a few pantry staples and an organic gala apple in our fridge. As with many of my recipes, feel free to swap ingredients or omit certain things. For example, feta cheese would be a delicious alternative to goat cheese. You can easily make this vegetarian by swapping the chicken breast for chickpeas (or baked tofu), and dried currants or raisins make for a delicious alternative to the goji berries. If you’re allergic to walnuts, omit entirely or use toasted pumpkin seeds instead. Because this salad is best eaten at room temperature, I like to prepare the protein ahead of time, but as soon as your roasted butternut squash is done, begin assembling the salad. I like to roast the butternut squash cubes in avocado oil with sea salt, black pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder. For the croutons, I used Outside the Breadbox, a local Colorado company featuring delicious, gluten-free products.
- 4 cups spinach
- 1 cup cubed roasted butternut squash, warmed
- 1 cup chopped chicken breast, warmed
- 3/4 cup croutons (I used Outside the Breadbox)
- 1/2 apple chopped (any variety will do)
- 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts, toasted
- 1 tablespoon crumbled goat cheese
- 1 tablespoon hemp seeds
- 1 tablespoon goji berries
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon honey mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- salt and pepper to taste
- Assemble all ingredients, including preparing the chicken breast and butternut squash, chopping the apple and walnuts, etc.
- In a small sauce pan, toast chopped walnuts on low-to-medium heat (until fragrant; 2-3 minutes). Stir frequently to prevent burning.
- In a small bowl, combine all salad dressing ingredients. Whisk vigorously to combine. Set aside.
- In a large salad bowl, combine all salad ingredients, starting with the spinach. Layer on the roasted butternut squash, chopped chicken, etc.
- Pour dressing on top of salad, mix to combine, and enjoy.