The poplar trees out my back windows are brilliantly yellow, catching my eye and inviting me to pause throughout the day to admire them. The trees bordering our house are ripe with Golden Delicious apples, and the pear orchard across the road is the most gorgeous hue of deep maroon red.
Pumpkins are piled on the doorstep and I’ve made at least three batches of pumpkin treats in the last few weeks. I’m working on a pumpkin snickerdoodle cookie. Keep an eye out for that recipe coming soon.
The cool mornings and early evenings force us inside. I almost always have a candle burning. We even had a fire in the fireplace over the weekend. I relish the subtle shift, the slowdown that comes with the season.
This week I have a salad for you that doubles as a meal. Full of roasted vegetables and caramelized onions, the few minutes of prep work to make the different components of the recipe sets you up for a week of easy, healthy lunches or a filling, tasty dinner. I’m not sure there was ever a more fall-like salad. Roasted vegetables, rich caramelized onions, crunchy apples and a smooth balsamic vinaigrette come together for a taste of the season.
Even better, this recipe is a blank canvas to make your own. You could add grilled chicken or a flank steak for protein, and I don’t think anyone would complain about a handful of bacon bits scattered into the salad. I recommend crumbled goat cheese as a garnish, but you could swap that for Gorgonzola, cubed sharp cheddar or big shavings of Parmesan. Go crazy, add whatever you like and happen to have on hand.
If you plan to meal prep this recipe, keep the components of the salad in separate containers in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to eat, combine as you like and enjoy. Salad serves 6 to 8 generous portions.
• Andrea McCoy writes the column Kitchen Captivated for Yakima Magazine and at The Salt and Stone, a home cooking blog. The Salt and Stone is a nod not just to the essence of cooking, but also to the Yakima Valley. Read more at www.thesaltandstone.com.
Fall Harvest Salad with Roasted Vegetables and Caramelized Onions
2 large sweet onions
2 tablespoons olive or avocado oil
1/4 teaspoon salt and black pepper
1 pound sweet potato
2 to 3 cups vegetables (Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, russet potatos)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons chipotle in adobo
2 tablespoons maple syrup
Kosher salt and pepper
8-10 ounces mixed greens
1 Honeycrisp apple, diced
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
Crumbled goat cheese (optional)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 to 1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt and black pepper
For the salad dressing, combine the ingredients in a small jar with a lid. Tighten lid and shake well. Taste to make sure it doesn’t need extra salt.
Slice onions thinly. Heat large sauté pan to low heat. Add oil and onion to the pan. Stir consistently, allowing the onions to become deeply brown and fragrant. Stir, stir, stir! If the onions begin to sear, lower heat to a simmer. Salt and pepper onions. This process should take at least 20 minutes, if not closer to 30 minutes. Low and slow! When onions have cooked down by at least half and are a rich brown color, they are done. Turn the heat off and allow to cool slightly in the pan.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. On a baking sheet, spread out diced sweet potatoes and vegetables. The smaller the pieces, the quicker they will cook. Keep the vegetables roughly uniform in size. Drizzle olive oil, adobo sauce and maple syrup over vegetables. Salt and pepper. Using clean hands, toss the ingredients until vegetables are well-coated. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes or until vegetables are crispy and tender. Remove from oven and allow to cool briefly.
To make the salad, layer caramelized onions, roasted vegetables, apple, cranberries and walnuts over mixed greens. Drizzle with dressing and, using salad tongs, mix well. Serve immediately.