I’m a huge fan of apple cider in the fall. And with arguably too many gallons of cider sitting around, I was trying to come up with some recipes to justify my zealous purchasing behavior. So why not make a fall harvest salad using an apple cider dressing paired with some other autumn ingredients?
This delicious salad is sure to be a hit with its blend of sweet apple cider, juicy pears, and candied bacon. A mix of fresh and peppery greens, this fall harvest medley is the perfect way to enjoy the best of the season. Plus, it’s nutritious too – packed full of vitamins and minerals that will keep you feeling your best.
As I’ve noted before in my fall flavor tier list, pecans and apples were some of my highest-rated flavors. And they are definitely included here. So, make the best use of your apple cider and enjoy the best flavors of fall.
Fall Harvest Ingredients
What makes the ultimate fall salad? In my mind, it starts with the greens themselves. Then include some of the fruit of the season. Then a lot of the rest is kind of just by feeling or things we tend to associate with the autumn harvest. Whether you’re whipping up a nutritious fall salad or an autumn harvest salad, these ingredients are must-haves! Make sure to include these ingredients in your fall dishes!
Spinach and Arugula
Spinach and arugula are a classic combination that will make your salad delicious and nutritious. Both greens are a great source of vitamins and minerals, so you know you’re getting a dose of healthy goodness. And they’ll add a flavorful and peppery crunch to your salad too.
A lot of salad greens grow best in spring and fall – typically not fans of the hot summer months. So you should be able to find some fresh salad greens at your local farmer’s market. To make the ultimate fall salad, make sure you’ve got plenty of spinach and arugula on hand.
Apples and Cider
Apples are now made available year round but they typically are picked in the fall. Apple cider (not to be confused with its alcohol-containing cousin) is typically made in the fall during the harvest but it doesn’t have the longest shelf life because it is unfiltered. So it has become synonymous with the season. Apples are a great addition to any salad, providing a crunchy texture and a hint of sweetness. Choose your favorite variety to include in your salad – I went with Envy apples.
I always forget how much I love pears. Like apples, they come into their own during the fall. So this season is the best time to get some truly delicious specimens. I ended up using red anjou for this recipe, but feel free to use whatever variety you prefer or can find locally.
Make the Dressing
The idea that started it all, an apple cider dressing. When I tried to search around for an apple cider dressing it seemed that most of them included only apple cider vinegar. But I wanted something more. So I came up with this recipe for a dressing to make the ultimate fall salad. Basically just adding apple cider in with some generic vinaigrette ingredients.
Start with some quality extra virgin olive oil. This is the base of the vinaigrette so don’t go with the super crappy stuff if you can avoid it. But, you also don’t need to buy a $150 bottle flown in from Spain or Greece to your door. Though I guess I’ve never tried that, so maybe it would be more delicious.
Anyways. I like making salad dressings using my small Nutribullet blender because the container sizes just seem to be perfect for me. You can use any blender or food processor and you can even just put the ingredients in a jar and shake them up – you’ll just end up with some loose diced shallot pieces and the dressing will split sooner. A blender or food processor seems to almost emulsify the oil and vinegar so it takes much longer to separate in my experience.
Obviously, we need some apple cider to make an apple cider dressing. I also tossed in some apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, lemon zest, honey, shallot, and Dijon mustard. Then some salt and pepper to finish it off. Just your basic vinaigrette ingredients to let the apple cider shine.
Then just blend, process, or shake until everything is combined.
Prepare the Ingredients
Washing, cutting, shredding, prepping. Salads are simple but still take a little bit of preparation.
Wash Spinach and Arugula
With the bounty of fall harvest ingredients now gathered, it’s time to prepare them for the salad. Let’s start with the spinach and arugula. You can use a colander or a nifty salad spinner to wash and dry your mixed greens. Now, you’ve got clean, fresh greens to use as the base of the salad.
Cut and Shred
Grab a sharp knife and cutting board, and let’s get slicing and dicing. We’ll start by cutting the spinach and arugula leaves into bite-sized pieces (there’s nothing worse in a salad than greens you can’t fit in your mouth after picking them up – especially when coated in dressing, especially with a big beard that gets covered…). We’ll also need to slice the pear and apple. Then shred the fontina cheese.
Cook Wheat Berries
Wheat berries add a wonderful nutty chewiness to the salad. Their unique texture really helps elevate this dish. But they do require a little bit of prep work. Though most wheat berries are harvested in the summer, I made the executive decision to include them in this fall harvest salad. Mostly because they feel like more of a fall ingredient than a summer one. I dunno.
I bought these hard red spring wheat berries from Amazon to make this salad. You may also be able to find some at your local store.
Cook them according to the package instructions. Mine called for a little salt with the water, bringing them to a boil, and then turning them down to simmer for about 30 minutes (I simmered them a little longer for more tender wheat berries).
Topping the Autumn Harvest Salad
The salad toppings really make this fall harvest salad delicious. The apple and pear, pecans, fontina cheese, dried cranberries, wheat berries, and candied bacon make a delicious combination that’s sure to be a hit. Flavors and textures combine to make this nutritious fall salad unforgettable. Together, they make for a yummy autumn harvest salad that will keep you cozy and satisfied in the cooler weather.
Starting with the cheese, the goal is to add some creaminess to this salad. I chose fontina cheese for a mild flavor and soft and creamy texture that complements the salad perfectly. This is one ingredient that can easily be substituted with a different cheese without changing the salad too drastically. Mozzarella and muenster would be similar to fontina. You could also go for some different flavors – the tang of blue cheese or the saltiness of feta.
As fresh fruit, the apple and pear slices add some crispy juiciness to the mix. Dried cranberries are a pop of tart-sweet flavor that sit as almost a surprise present when uncovered in the salad. The prepared wheat berries add some more texture to the salad bringing chewiness with a light nutty flavor.
And speaking of nutty flavor, we’ll add in some toasted pecans for good measure.
Now let’s top off the autumn harvest salad with something special – candied bacon! Yes, you heard that right.
I made my own candied bacon recipe specifically for this salad. So of course I would highly recommend following that recipe for making this salad. What makes it great for this salad is the addition of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves with brown sugar for candying the bacon. This gives even more hints of the fall season, which really makes this the ultimate fall salad.
You can of course use a different candied bacon, and you could even use regular bacon. It will lose a little bit of the magic but still taste pretty good.
Serving Fall Harvest Salad
This salad is packed full enough that it could be a meal all on its own. But it could also be paired as a side with a different entree or accompanied with some sides of its own to round out a dinner.
Adding Some Sides to this Nutritious Fall Salad
I think this autumn harvest salad could pair perfectly with some kind of bread. Bake your own loaf or try my mom’s dinner rolls recipe or my pillowy softy puffy pitas. Bread is great with salads since it provides you a vehicle with which to sop up every last bit of remaining dressing. And of course, you will want to do that with this homemade apple cider dressing. Trust me.
You could also not go wrong with an additional side of tasty veggies. Roasted green beans, asparagus, or squash come to mind. Or try it with some home-fried pita and spanakopita dip. It is delicious.
A soup and salad combo is classic, so try this out with your favorite fall soup.
Using the Ultimate Fall Salad as a Side
As a fall-themed dish, this bed of mixed greens could be served with a lot of the other main dishes of the season. If you want to use this as an accompaniment, try any of the following:
- Thanksgiving Sage Roasted Turkey
- Rodda Family Three Cheese Lasagna
- Orange Maple Soy Glazed Salmon
- Dr Pepper and Pineapple Glazed Spiral Ham
With a few simple steps, you can create a delicious and nutritious fall salad in no time. Whether you’re having it as a side dish or the main entree, it is sure to please. Plus, the dressing adds just the right touch of sweetness and flavor to make it memorable. So, don’t miss out on this amazing autumn harvest salad!
How did yours turn out?
I’d love to hear when you try out this apple cider fall harvest salad! Take a pic of your food and share your success with me by adding it to your Instagram stories or feed, and tagging me @doyouroux, or by using #doyouroux.
Plus, leave a rating to let me know how you liked the recipe. It helps me out a lot to know how things worked out… or didn’t.
Apple Cider Fall Harvest SaladCourse: Salads, Main, SidesDifficulty: Easy
Tantalize your tastebuds with this delicious ultimate fall harvest apple cider cinnamon salad – a nutritious autumn treat!
- Apple Cider Dressing
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon diced shallot
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Fall Harvest Salad
4 packed cups spinach
4 packed cups arugula
1 apple, sliced
1 pear, sliced
2/3 cup whole toasted pecans
1/2 cup chopped candied bacon
1/2 cup shredded fontina cheese
1/3 cup prepared wheat berries
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1 batch of apple cider dressing (from above)
- Apple Cider Dressing
- Combine all dressing ingredients together in a small blender, food processor, or bottle/jar with a lid
- With a blender or food processor, pulse for three 5-second intervals until smooth; with a bottle or jar, shake vigorously until combined – note that the shallot will not be fully blended without using the blender or food processor
- Refrigerate until ready to serve, up to 5 days
- Fall Harvest Salad
- Wash and dry the spinach and arugula
- Roughly chop the spinach and arugula, slice the apple and pear, chop the candied bacon, and shred the fontina cheese
- In a large serving bowl gently toss together all of the ingredients except for the dressing
- Serve and top individual bowls with the dressing
- For convenience you may substitute regular bacon for the candied bacon, but do note that the addition of the candied bacon really kicks this salad up a notch
- Simply choose your favorite apple and pear varieties, all of them will be delightful
- As a side dish, this would be more like eight servings
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