Autumn means warm, cozy drinks; autumn means pumpkin pie and turkey showstoppers; autumn means slow cookers and plenty of soup.
We tend to lend a lot less thought to salads. Sure, nippier weather nudges us toward warming foods, but when it’s cold outside and the office kicks its heating system into overdrive, soup might not be the answer. And when there are heaping piles of mashed potatoes, burnished birds and roasted veggies on the table, sometimes a crisp, refreshing bite is exactly what you need.
Then there’s also the fact that the word “salad” has such a varied meaning. They can come with a bed of grains underneath, they can be served warm, and they can even be completely devoid of greens.
Take these recipes as inspiration for assembling a salad featuring the best of autumn.
Warm Endive Salad, above. Have fun tearing slightly bitter lettuces like endive, escarole and radicchio, then dressing the lot with a sticky-savory combination of pancetta, honey, vinegar and ever-so-slightly warmed pear.
Chicory Salad With Roasted Grapes. Roasting grapes takes their sweetness to complex and, frankly, beautiful levels. Especially paired with slightly bitter chicory and funky blue cheese.
Autumn “Coleslaw.” This isn’t like your usual coleslaw, though you can absolutely use it in the same way. Dates, apples and nuts add mild sweetness and autumnal vibes to a heap of shredded red cabbage.
Beet and Orange Salad. Beets don’t necessarily have the nicest reputation, so we’ll sweeten the deal with fresh oranges and a dollop of creamy yogurt. This makes an excellent starter or small plate.
Roasted Fennel and Lemon Salad With Turmeric Walnuts. Roasting fennel, the star of this simple salad, tones down some of its licorice flavor and adds little crispy bits. Another simple elevating tweak: Blanching lemon slices eliminates their sharper notes, so you can eat them skin and all.
Brussels Sprouts Caesar Salad. Romaine? Forget it. Quickly blanch half your Brussels sprouts and roast the other half to get two different textures and two layers of flavor. Then, toss with maple bacon, a dreamy Caesar dressing and a hard-cooked egg for the heartiest take on a Caesar salad you’ll ever try.
Green Salad With Pears, Pecans and Blue Cheese. It’s so very simple: Toss crunchy-sweet pears, pecans and blue cheese with maple Dijon dressing in this holiday-friendly starter.
Autumn Salad With Farro, Apple and Roasted Persimmon. If you want to try persimmons but are a little intimidated, try roasting them and adding them to this hearty, warm-hued farro salad. Tart bites of apple and pomegranate are a lovely, crunchy bonus to the soft, yielding fruit and grain.
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