I’ve been on a mission for the past few years to eat more seasonally and to really try and appreciate the variety that comes with a season change. I’m really going to miss summer berries, BUT I know that fall brings lots of amazing foods too. I let seasonal ingredients be my inspiration in making this delicious full meal salad.
This bad boy is a nutritional powerhouse! I added my favorite fall fruit and vegetable (apple and butternut squash) along with quinoa for fiber and protein, dried cranberries for some tartness, and toasted almonds for that warm, nutty flavor (and the added bonus of some healthy fat!). I happen to love blue cheese so I added that too, but you can certainly leave it out for a vegan version of this meal.
- 4 c. fresh baby spinach, chopped
- ⅓ c. roasted butternut squash (I just dice mine in small pieces and roast in a 400 degree oven with a little coconut oil and salt for about 30 minutes)
- ⅓ c. cooked quinoa
- ½ apple (I used a jazz apple, use whatever your favorite is!), diced
- 1 T. dried cranberries
- 1-2 T. slivered almonds, toasted (a few minutes in a 400 degree oven will do)
- 1 T. crumbled blue cheese (optional, but delicious!)
- ¼ c. pure maple syrup
- ¼ c. balsamic vinegar
- 1 T. dijon mustard
- ½ c. olive oil
- ¼ t. liquid smoke
- salt and pepper to taste
- Toss together ingredients for salad.
- Combine ingredients for dressing in a food processor or blender until it forms a smooth dressing.
- Drizzle dressing over salad and enjoy!
Allow me a moment to just recognize this dressing. THIS DRESSING, y’all. Perfect balance of sweet and sharp, and the smokiness just takes it over the edge. As a vegetarian I sometimes miss the smoky flavors that a lot of meats have (like bacon!), but I love using liquid smoke occasionally to provide that same amazing flavor. The recipe above makes a bigger batch than you’ll need for one salad. Because you are going to want more. Trust me.
This salad would make a great packed lunch because none of these ingredients have a lot of moisture that would make the salad soggy. Pack the dressing in a separate container and you’re good to go!
I’ll be seeing you again this weekend with a big life update post! It’s been far too long since I talked about what’s been going on with us!