Many people think of summer as the ultimate salad season, and it’s true that there is obviously loads of fresh produce available in the summer, but my favorite salad season is actually fall. Something about the mix of heartier greens and fall fruits is just more up my alley and makes for super interesting salad potential!
For my easy fall salad for this post, I used a few simple greens available in any market and a few key fall fruits, plus a homemade vinaigrette that is absolutely worth your time.
If you want to go rogue though, there are loads of substitution ideas in this post as well so read on and bookmark this post for all your fall salad needs!
How to Make an apple cider vinaigrette
Salads aren’t a hard thing and while I have a few jars of good salad dressing in my fridge, if I’m making a good salad, I always try to find the time to mix up a homemade salad dressing. Even a simple homemade vinaigrette will be tangier and more interesting than a store-bought one that has sat on the shelf for some amount of time.
This vinaigrette is really easy to whisk together. It starts with a minced shallot, which is the only chopping you have to do, then whisk in some apple cider vinegar, honey, lemon, and a good glug of olive oil. Most importantly, taste this dressing and adjust it. Maybe you think it needs an extra squeeze of lemon or an extra pinch of salt? Go for it!
If this doesn’t sound up your alley, I think this Creamy Pecorino Dressing would work really well with this fall salad as well.
- Want to spice up the dressing? Try this Jalapeno Lime Dressing!
Greens to use for this salad
I love baby greens for quick salads and for this version I used a mix of baby spinach and baby kale. Both of these are a little heartier than a spring salad mix.
I like to dress my greens lightly before adding the other stuff to the salad so toss them with just a tablespoon or two of the salad dressing to coat. Don’t overdress the greens at this point!
If you aren’t serving the salad immediately, wait to dress the greens or they will just wilt.
I would encourage you to experiment with other greens you might find at your market. You could sliver up some adult kale (kind of like I do in this kale salad). Or you could use swiss chard which would be an interesting switch-up.
Any of the pre-washed mixes that you can find in the produce section these days work well also if you are looking for something quick to use as a base layer for this fall salad.
Fruits that work well in fall salads
There are many fall fruit options that go well in salads, but I just love the mix of fall pears and apples for this version. Sliced thin, they are crunchy, zesty, and the perfect mix of tangy and sweet. I was lucky enough to have some fresh pears delivered from a friend with a pear tree so I didn’t want those to go to waste!
You could kind of chop up the fruit if you want, but I prefer to quarter apples and pears, and then slice them thin. I think this is a really wonderful way to present the fruit in a salad and they end up being like crunchy chips mixed in. So good!
Other fruit options for this salad? Strawberries would work well, although those are more of a spring situation in my mind. Grapes, halved or quartered, would be a nice addition. Pomegranate seeds would be my favorite bonus add-in if you can find them. It might be a bit early in the season for good pomegranate seeds, but they are one of my favorite salad ingredients (see this wonderful pomegranate salad).
Other fall salad add-in ideas
For my version on this particular day, I chopped up some pistachios to add to my salad (mostly because I was using them to make a tiktok video – did I mention I’m on tiktok?). I also wanted something creamy in the salad so goat cheese was my go-to cheese add-in.
I could probably list a dozen other possible add-ins for this salad. Let’s give it a shot:
- Dried Cranberries
- Fresh figs
- Toasted walnuts
- Toasted pine nuts
- Slivered almonds
- Blue cheese crumbles
- Sunflower seeds
- Hemp hearts
- Slivered parmesan cheese
- Dried cherries
- Crunchy bacon
- Fresh herbs like chives or slivered tarragon
Can you make this salad in advance?
I’m usually not a fan of made-in-advance salads for one reason: They get wilty. You just can’t combine all this stuff together and let it sit for a day and expect it to be as zesty as on day one.
That said, you can prep all the stuff in advance, especially the vinaigrette, which is maybe better on day two.
If you are packing it for lunch or something, it’ll be fine, but if you are serving it to a crowd, toss this fall salad together right before serving!
Easy Fall Salad with Homemade Vinaigrette
- 2-3 ounces baby spinach
- 2-3 ounces baby kale
- 1 ripe pear, sliced thin
- 1 ripe apple, sliced thin
- ¼ cup shelled pistachio
- 2-3 ounces Goat cheese, crumbled
- 1 shallot
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- ½ lemon, juice only
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- Pinch of salt
- For the vinaigrette, mince shallot very fine and then whisk together with all other ingredients. Taste the dressing and adjust to your liking. Might need an extra pinch of salt or a little more honey.
- Add the greens for the salad to a large bowl and add 1-2 tablespoons of the dressing. Toss the green well with the dressing to coat.
- Top the salad with sliced fruit, chopped nuts, crumbled cheese, and a little more dressing.
- Serve extra dressing on the side.
- The salad is best right away. Don’t make it advance or the greens will get soggy. If you do make it in advance, don’t dress the salad until right before serving.