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.
Watch How to Make This Recipe
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.
I hope you give this Fall Harvest Salad a try! They are so easy to make and delicious! If you do give this recipe a try, let me know!
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This salad and dressing are perfection. I sometimes sub in sweet potatoes for butternut squash and I dont put in the radishes but it gets rave reviews every time I make it. I also make the dressing all the time to use on grain bowls.
This a lovely salad but the radishes didn’t fit somehow with the other flavours.
I might add quino next time and then it’s a full meal
I love the radishes! feel free to leave them out next time, if you like!
I’ve made this three nights in a row! I am obsessed! So delicious! Used roasted pumpkin seeds instead of pecans and we added some grilled chicken!
Thank you for sharing!
Hands down one of the best dressings I’ve ever had!! You definitely want to make this salad.
Had this salad for lunch every day this week – but y’all, the DRESSING! Quickly has become my favorite. So easy, healthy, and makes me look forward to having a salad for lunch daily instead of wishing for a burger. Will be making this all of fall!
Hi Ashlea! This salad is phenomenal!! Probably my new favorite salad. Such a nice variety of sweet/salty, soft/crunchy. Just so so good! Thanks for sharing!
This is one of my favorite salads ever! The dressing is amazing!! Thank you for all the delicious recipes!
You’re so welcome, Jamie! I’m so glad you all enjoyed the recipe! Thanks for sharing!
This looks delicious. Can’t wait to try. Can I substitute regular mustard instead of Dijon
Hi, Diana! I haven’t tried using regular mustard for this recipe and I’m not sure the flavor would be the best. I’d recommend using dijon. Hope that helps!
Hi Ashlea, have a question. Do you use light olive oil? Looking forward to making this. Thanks!
Hi, Londa! I use regular extra-virgin olive oil for this recipe. Feel free to use whatever olive oil you prefer though. I hope you love the recipe!
Made this last night for friends and it was awesome. I didn’t use the bacon or radishes and I roasted the squash with cinnamon. I’ll make this over and over, next time with bacon (one friend is vegetarian). Delicious!
Thanks for sharing, Michelle! I’m so happy you loved it!
Holy wow this salad is SO GOOD! It is so perfectly balanced in terms of both flavor and texture. I made this for our Thanksgiving and Christmas meals this year, and it was a great way to get in loads of veggies. I didn’t bother with candying the nuts, just served them roasted plain. I’m sure it’s even better if you follow the recipe as written! The components keep well for a few days in the fridge, so definitely make up the full batch. I added some diced up salami on day two and called it dinner.
So glad you loved the recipe, Mallery! Thanks for sharing!
So beyond obsessed with this dressing. It is really the best and everyone has loved it! It’s so good I’m going to start making little jars of it for gifts because most people would love this dressing. I love the salad too! The butternut squash and green apples are amazing toppings. Fun to customize a little bit too based one what we have on hand!
I’m so happy you loved the recipe Schyler! Thanks for sharing!
This salad was amazing. Super flavor! The dressing was so good my kids licked the plate clean. We didn’t have any pecans on hand so we candied the butternut squash seeds instead. This one is going on my fall and winter go to list.
I’m so happy everyone loved it, Jennifer! Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a review!
Made this recipe a few times since the salad dressing is out of this world! Started just making it separately to have in my fridge to put on any salad I’m having!!
Love that idea, Jenna! I’m so glad y’all loved the recipe!
I’ve eaten my share of salads with roasted sweet potatoes, and this is one of the best. So many yummy elements with great balance. It’s simple, but I really love this vinaigrette, too. Definitely out this in the lineup!
So glad you loved the recipe, Lauren! Thank you for taking the time to leave a review!
I didn’t have all of the ingredients on hand for this salad so I used what I had, but I did follow the dressing recipe and it was AMAZING! So good, and the perfect blend of flavors to complement our Thanksgiving meal! I will definitely be making this again!
Happy to hear that, Heidi! That dressing is one of my favorites, too!
This dressing is SO GOOD! The salad is satisfying and easy to make substitutions for what’s in the fridge.
I’m so glad you loved it, Kate!
I LOVE this salad! I work in a nursing home and occasionally bring some of my patients salads because the salads served don’t always have great flavor. This salad. Is. IT! The sweetness of the apple and candied pecans complimented the savoriness of the bacon, feta, and squash so well.
We did a modified version of this salad based on what we had. My husband does not usually like butternut squash but loved it in this salad. We both really enjoyed this salad. Perfect for thanksgiving and Christmas or for an everyday fall side. Anything Ashlea makes is amazing!
So happy you love the recipe, Anna!
Am I correct in assuming that the butternut squash is cooled and then added? Thinking about including this beautiful salad with my thanksgiving spread this year and wondering about making the squash in advance and then assembling the day of.
Loved this salad! I will definitely be making this again.
Absolutely perfect! The dressing is so good!!
So delicious! The salad is perfectly balanced, and I could drink the dressing. It’s so good.
Couldn’t leave a star rating so had to review again because this salad is THAT good!!! 😛
We LOVED this salad! Dressing was so delicious and could totally eat by the gallon. Super easy and the perfect Fall salad to go with any meal!
I only made the vinaigrette, as I didn’t have other ingredients for the salad on hand, but it was soo good! New favorite salad dressing!
I have to be honest here — I only made the vinaigrette from this recipe and WOW it will be on regular rotation in my home!! Everyone knows the salad is made by the dressing, and I am ALL ABOUT this one! Super easy, super quick, and incredibly worth it. My salads say thank you 🙂
I do the same thing, Jessica! So happy you and your salads are happy!
5 stars. This salad is SO good. I’ve never thought about adding squash to a salad before I saw this and was surprised by how good it was. The dressing alone is a show stopper. If you havent made this yet, you need to ASAP!
Looks delicious! Thank you for the recipe. I’m going to make this for Thanksgiving. Did you buy or make your candied pecans? If you made them, can you link to a recipe. Also, what kind of green apples did you use in your recipe? Many Thanks, Sabrina
There is only one green apple. A Green Apple.
Yum, I cannot wait to try this salad recipe with roasted butternut squash! Pinning!
You said we could leave out the feta to make it dairy-free. But you never mentioned feta in the ingredients.
She does mention it. It’s also included in the list of ingredients as well included in the photo.
Hi, JoAnn! Are you looking at the recipe section at the bottom of the post? It lists a 1/4 cup of feta cheese in the ingredients section of the recipe. Hope you love this recipe!