The Surprising Ingredient Every Fall Salad Needs
You'll be craving this delicious flavor combination.
Salads are one of the most versatile meals to make—you can switch up the greens, the veggies, the protein, the dressing. But once I find a flavor combination I love, I tend to hold on tight. That’s why when my sister recently added cinnamon to a salad dressing, I haven’t been able to stop using it since.
That’s right—ground cinnamon is the ingredient your fall salad is missing. Mix it into any vinaigrette you like. I think it tastes great with a splash of apple cider vinegar (red or white wine would work just as well), a bit of Dijon, a touch of honey or maple syrup, a finely chopped shallot, a generous glug of extra-virgin olive oil, a pinch of kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Start with 1/4 teaspoon, then add more to taste.
The rest of the salad is up to you, though here’s what I recommend. Start with a sturdy green, such as lacinato kale. Strip the leaves from the stems and cut them however you please. Sometimes, I tear the leaves for larger bites of kale. Other times, I cut them into thin ribbons (called chiffonade) for a more finely chopped salad. Either way, I like to massage the greens with some of the dressing before adding the toppings, to cut the bitterness of the raw kale and make sure every leaf is coated.
As far as toppings, I love roasted squash. My new favorite is honeynut (they’re basically mini butternut, and they’re adorable), but I also love kabocha. Crank up the oven to 425°F, cut ‘em into cubes, toss in olive oil and more salt and pepper than you think, and roast until tender and browned in spots, about 25 minutes. Roasted sweet potatoes or carrots are also great in salad.
In addition to the roasted veg, I like a raw component, too. My go-to is apple, but pomegranate seeds are delicious, as are red grapes, thinly sliced radishes, fresh herbs, and creamy avocado. Throw in some toasted nuts (walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, pistachios, almonds, etc.), or some seeds (sunflowers or pepitas), or even some crispy chickpeas (they can roast with the squash). Often, I splurge with a handful of dried fruit (apricots, cherries, or cranberries). For added protein, I'll add crispy tofu or flaky salmon. Or if I'm packing it for lunch, I'll cook a grain to toss in.
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The result? A creamy, crunchy, tart, fresh, in-season fall salad. Serve with the rest of your cinnamon-spiked dressing, of course.