This Fall Harvest Salad features Autumn-inspired ingredients, such as apples, pecans, and maple syrup, together with baby spinach and goat cheese. This salad is unique because the sliced apples are cooked in maple syrup and lime juice before adding them to the salad. This not only makes apples delicious but it also prevents them from browning. This is a must-try recipe to make in the Fall and Winter. It also makes a festive side dish for the holidays (Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving, and Christmas).
Autumn harvest salad with apples
If you asked what one ingredient I always use during Fall, it would have to be apples. Fall is the time of year when apples are in season and are at their best. They are plump, firm, and ripe, and you get a lot of varieties to choose from. This Fall salad features a lot of apples. The apples are cooked in olive oil, maple syrup, and lime juice, making this salad unique.
It's a must-try holiday salad to share with your friends and family during Thanksgiving (or Friendsgiving) and Christmas. My 2 other favorite Autumn salads for the holiday season are roasted sweet potato and spinach salad and simple apple spinach salad with cranberries, goat cheese, and maple-lime mustard dressing.
Why you'll love it
- Cooked apples make this salad unique and so different from other salads. I cooked apples in olive oil, maple syrup, and freshly squeezed lime juice. Another benefit of using cooked apples in a salad is that they don't get brown from oxidation.
- Great for making ahead. You can cook the apples up to 2 days in advance and keep them refrigerated (together with the juices). Then reheat the apples and assemble the salad when you're ready!
This recipe features a lot of healthy and nutritious ingredients that we often associate with the Fall harvest. It tastes like comfort food yet features many healthy, fresh, colorful, and nutrient-dense ingredients.
- Spinach is a delicious and beautiful vegetable - a perfect choice of green for a Fall salad. You can also use peppery arugula, kale, or your favorite greens instead.
- Apples. I used Fuji red apples. You can also use Gala or Honey Crisp. Choose apples with a firmer texture as you will be cooking them. I did not peel the apples because the peel helps keep cooked apple slices together
- Pecans are packed with fiber and are rich in many nutrients. This includes zinc and Vitamin B1. These tasty nuts add crunch and texture to any Fall salad. I like to lightly toast them in the preheated oven at 350 F for about 10 minutes to add more crunch.
- Feta cheese adds a salty and tangy flavor. This brined cheese is usually made from sheep's milk or a mixture of goat and sheep's milk. It's easy to crumble and works great in salads.
- Salad dressing is made by cooking the apples with olive oil, maple syrup, and lime juice. The resulting juices from cooking the apples create the most amazing Fall salad dressing!
You can easily customize this Fall salad with your favorite greens, veggies, fruits, nuts, cheese, or other add-ins or substitutions.
- Add nuts. You can add toasted pecans or walnuts. Candied nuts would work great too.
- Dried fruit. Add dried cranberries, blueberries, figs, or cherries.
- Greens. Use your favorite greens - spinach, arugula, mixed greens, etc.
- Cheese. I recommend using the following varieties: feta cheese, goat cheese (any flavor), gorgonzola, and crumbled blue cheese.
- Add fruit. You can add pears, mango, orange slices, or mandarin oranges.
- Add pomegranate arils. You can buy pomegranate arils in a container at a grocery store. This will save you time and you will not have to remove the seeds from a whole pomegranate.
Add protein to turn this salad into a complete meal
- Cooked chicken, steak, shrimp, or salmon would pair nicely with this harvest salad.
- Leftover cooked chicken, such as grilled chicken, leftover chicken, and rotisserie chicken work especially well.
- Add bacon. Use regular bacon, turkey bacon, or bacon bits. Toasted (crisped up) prosciutto or pancetta will work great, too.
Other Fall salads you might like
- Butternut Squash Pasta Salad with Brussels Sprouts, Pecans, and Cranberries
- Fall Harvest Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash, Apple, Pear, Pecans, Pumpkin Seeds, Pomegranate, and Spinach
- Butternut Squash and Spinach Salad with Pecans, Cranberries, Pomegranate Seeds, and Poppy Seed Honey-Lime Dressing
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts Salad with Maple Butternut Squash, Pumpkin Seeds, and Cranberries
- Winter Vegetable Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash, Brussels Sprouts, and Beets
Fall Harvest Salad with Apples, Pecans, Spinach, and Maple-Lime Dressing
- 6 oz baby spinach
- 1 cup pecan halves toasted, some of them chopped finely
- ⅓ cup goat cheese crumbled
- Core the apples and slice each one length-wise. You don't need to peel them.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat.
- Add sliced apples and cook them for about 3 minutes per side or until soft and pliable. Remove from heat.
- Add maple syrup and lime juice and stir everything together.
- I prefer to arrange the salad in individual bowls for presentation purposes.
- Add baby spinach to each salad bowl.
- Chop up half of the nuts. Add pecans on top of the spinach.
- Add crumbled goat cheese to the salad.
- Top with cooked apples. Drizzle the maple-lime juices from the skillet over the salad.
- Alternatively, you can combine all the salad ingredients (except pecans) in a large serving bowl, including cooked apples and all the juices from the skillet, and toss to combine. Then, top the salad with toasted pecan halves (some of them chopped).
- If using raw pecans, toast them in the preheated oven at 350 F for about 5 or 10 minutes until slightly darker in color and crunchy. Be careful not to burn the nuts.
- You can also purchase roasted, flavored, or candied pecans. In this case, you don't need to toast them.
The nutritional information on this website is only an estimate and is provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed. It should not be used as a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.