Autumn Harvest Salad

So, the weather this weekend was both awful and wonderful.  Awful because Saturday felt like August 1st in St. Louis – HOT with crazy humidity and no breeze.  Wonderful because Sunday morning had an Oregonian/Maine-ish rainy breeze wafting through my window that made it next to impossible to get up.  (I spent the first 10 minutes of my day drifting through my memories of summers at my grandparents’ old home in Oregon.)

However, despite the wonderful weather yesterday, it did make for a very sad attempt at a concert by the Wind Ensemble I’m a part of, after which I drowned my sorrows in Cheddar Biscuits at Red Lobster (not my best choice).  And ironically, despite Saturday’s gross weather, we had an absolutely delightful time visiting a somewhat nearby Pick-Your-Own farm with some good friends.  We picked pumpkins and some of the sweetest apples I’ve had in years!  Seriously, it’d be worth wading through the thousands of New Yorkers who showed up that day just to pick about 30 more of those apples.  Here is a picture of our happy afternoon (copious amounts of sweat not visible):

Pumpkin Patch - Gingham and SteelMike and I have not been letting the Indian summer deter us from the important things, however, as we have been eating autumnal food for well over a month by now.  Yes, September was basically the month of the Autumn Harvest Salad.

It’s a Taste of Home recipe I found via Google, and I assure you, not only is it delicious, it’s utterly customizable.  No pecans?  Grab almonds.  Or pistachios.  Or walnuts.  Out of pears? Apples work equally well.  However, I’d recommend always keeping the cranberries/celery combination.  They play off each other perfectly.

But it’s the dressing that’s the real star.  And so simple!  We now seem to have some in our fridge at all times.

In case you don’t feel like clicking through the link, here’s the slightly amended recipe!

Assemble the following salad items in two bowls, preferably in an attractive way:

  • a handful of spinach or some other leafy green (approx 6 oz)
  • 1 pear, sliced (although I cut cubes)
  • 1-2 celery rib, chopped, depending on how much you like celery
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 chopped pecans (aka, any nut), toasted

Whisk the following dressing ingredients together until blended, and pour a small amount over the salad above:

  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (we use Splenda)
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • a pinch of red pepper flakes

I find that a half batch of the dressing is a perfect amount for the two salads.

Happy autumn salad meals ahead!  What are you eating this fall?

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