This hearty fall harvest salad is the perfect combination of smoky bacon, salty feta, tender butternut squash, crisp apple, and crunchy candied pecans. The best part is the quick and easy maple mustard vinaigrette that is drizzled all over. This salad is naturally gluten-free, made from real food ingredients, and will leave you feeling great. You can also easily modify this recipe to make it dairy-free.
The Best Fall Harvest Salad with Maple Mustard Vinaigrette
We held our wedding reception at a farm to table restaurant in Asheville, NC and while you may think that the star of the show was the cake, it was surprisingly the first course salad. It was combination of tender greens, roasted butternut squash, feta cheese, smoky bacon, crisp apples, candied pecans, and a delicious and tangy dressing.
Absolutely everyone, even the pickiest eaters, loved the combination of flavors and how hearty the salad was. I knew that when we got home, I was going to try and recreate it. It took me eight months, but I finally got around to making a version of that salad myself, and y’all it is absolutely delicious.
It has all of the best flavors with a slightly sweet and tangy dressing that you will want to eat right off the spoon. This salad is great all on it’s own as a main dish for a light lunch or dinner, or as a side with chicken or fish.
Hearty Fall Salad Ingredients
Butternut Squash: dice and roast the squash for 25-30 minutes at 425 degrees until slightly browned and tender.
Mixed Greens: the best thing about this salad is that it works well with a variety of different greens. You can use a mix of baby kale, spring mix, and spinach or you can go with butter lettuce, crisp romaine, arugula or a mix of all three.
Crispy Bacon: bacon makes everything taste just a little better and this salad is no exception.
Radishes: The radish adds even more crunch and texture to this hearty salad. If you have never added radishes to your salad, you are really missing out. They add such a great flavor. I recommend slicing them thinly.
Apple: I like to use fresh green apple in this salad because it has just the right amount of tang and crunch, but you could also you your favorite variety like honey crisp or pink lady.
Candied pecans: do I even need to say anything else? perfectly crunchy and just the right amount of sweetness.
The Best Maple Mustard Vinaigrette (that you will be obsessed with)
This harvest salad really comes to life when the maple mustard vinaigrette is added to the mix. The vinaigrette has just the right amount of sweetness from the maple syrup and tang from apple cider vinegar and mustard. The best part is that this recipe makes a little extra dressing, which means that you can use it for another salad or even as a marinade for chicken or pork.
To make the dressing you’ll need:
apple cider vinegar
whole grain dijon mustard
fresh garlic cloves
salt and pepper
Tips and Tricks for the Perfect Fall Harvest Salad
Make the maple mustard vinaigrette in a high-powered blender or food processor to whip things up quickly.
To ensure that your salad does not become soggy, I recommend not adding the dressing to the salad until right before you are ready to serve for the best results.
Store the leftover vinaigrette in an air-tight container, like a mason jar, in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it. Just be sure to give it a shake or a stir before serving.
Out of maple syrup? Feel free to use honey instead.
For best results, use greens like spinach, baby kale, mixed greens, arugula, romaine or butter lettuce. Do not use iceberg lettuce as it will make the salad watery.
Need to make this salad dairy-free? Feel free to use your favorite non-dairy cheese alternative or replace the feta with avocado.