Sweet and Salty Fall Harvest Salad

As I sat and started writing this post last night, Gremlins was on TV in the background.  I really prefer to have the TV off while I write or at the very least, to have something on that I really enjoy: Big Bang Theory, the Yankees game, a classic chick flick like Sleepless in Seattle or My Best Friend’s Wedding that I’ve seen 1000 times and can use as fun background noise.

But with Halloween around the corner, Kyle started watching Gremlins and got up in the middle to go to bed without turning off the TV.  Typical.  And moderately maddening.

If you remember the movie at all, it gets to be pretty raucous and obnoxious about halfway through when sweet little Gizmo multiplies and the evil Gremlins go ape-shit.  It’s definitely not the type of noise I prefer when I write.  But I was lazy, left it on, and then got to thinking.

Sweet and Salty Fall Harvest Salad

The sweet and salty fall harvest salad is a whole lot like those Gremlins.  On the outside, it’s a little on the sweet side with roasted butternut squash, perfect Honeycrisp apples, dried cranberries, and candied pecan clusters.  The brie I added, which gets all melty from the warm squash, sort of balances the sweetness.

But it’s the hint of salt in the maple vinaigrette that sets the flavors of this salad off. You won’t believe how amazing this dressing is!!

Sort of like those Gremlins.  Not that the salad turns into the spawn of the devil but it certainly comes to life with this dressing and I’ll admit to completely inhaling the salad for four straight days of lunches.

Sweet and Salty Fall Harvest Salad

The sweet and salty combination is incredibly addictive and whether you eat these fall harvest salad components tossed over a bed of massaged kale or some leafy romaine, you won’t be left feeling hungry.  Just don’t feed it to the Gremlins.

Sweet and Salty Fall Harvest Salad

  • Prep Time: 15min
  • Cook Time: 45min
  • Yield: 4 servings

Notes

Feel free to change up the ingredients in this salad to suit your preferences.  Goat or blue cheese would work great in place of the brie.  Use walnuts instead of pecans or add sliced almonds instead.  Pears would be awesome in place of the apples.  If you’re not up to making the super quick maple vinaigrette I suggested, balsamic, pomegranate, or cranberry vinaigrettes would work fine too but you’ll miss the salty aspect that I loved so much about this salad.

Ingredients

For the salad:
1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup chopped pecans
1 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 bunch of kale, washed, stems removed, and roughly chopped (about 8 cups)
6 oz brie, cubed
1 large apple, cored and roughly chopped
½ cup dried cranberries

For the maple dijon vinaigrette:
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
Up to 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
¾ tsp sea salt

Instructions

  • 01

    Preheat oven to 425° F.  Spread the squash out on a large baking sheet and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil then sprinkle with some salt and pepper.  Roast for 25 minutes, toss the squash, and roast for another 15 to 20 minutes, tossing periodically until the squash is browned and softened.

  • 02

    While the squash roasts, make the candied pecan clusters.  Ready a Silpat or line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.  Heat the butter and brown sugar over medium heat in a medium nonstick pan until bubbling.  Toss the pecans into the butter-sugar mixture until coated.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar liquifies and turns a dark amber color.  Pour the pecans out onto the Silpat or parchment paper and spread them out with a rubber spatula.  Allow them to cool completely before breaking them up into clusters.

  • 03

    To make the vinaigrette, whisk the maple syrup, ¼ cup olive oil, mustard, vinegar, and salt together in a medium bowl or shake it all together in a mason jar.  Whisk in additional olive oil in small increments up to 1/3 cup total until you reach your desired dressing consistency.

  • 04

    In a large bowl, toss the kale with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Massage the oil into the kale with your hands until the kale turns bright green and glossy, about 2-3 minutes.

  • 05

    Top the kale with the squash, brie, apples, cranberries, and pecan clusters.  Drizzle the maple vinaigrette over the top of the salad before serving while the squash is still warm.

Smells Like Home original | massaged kale method adapted from Annie’s Eats

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  • Warm Vanilla Sugar
    October 17, 2013 at 6:47 AM

    Mmm love this salad!! Sweet and salty all the way!

  • October 17, 2013 at 12:19 PM

    Beautiful salad! And a high-five followed by a double-fist bump for working Gremlins in 🙂

  • Josie
    October 17, 2013 at 4:24 PM

    Tara, I am in love with this salad. I think I’ll make it next week with my spice-rubbed pork tenderloin. mmmm. Also, I was TERRIFIED of Gremlins when I was a kid. I thought it was the scariest movie ever.

  • […] a salad featuring all things fall. I got the idea for it when this post from Smells Like Home popped up in my reader. I went home for lunch that day and whipped this version of it up using what […]

  • October 31, 2013 at 3:29 PM

    […] been looking for a really good fall inspired salad lately, and this salty fall salad just might be the winner. Looks at all those amazing, nutrient packed […]

  • […] This salad will not be a lone dish that does not even get touched at your meal, you will even have people going back for seconds. This salad can’t really be prepped too far in advance, because the apples will turn and the vinaigrette would solidify in the refridgerator, but you can make the pecan clusters a day or two in advance.  It takes a little work, but you aren’t doing anything else on Thanksgiving besides cooking (and maybe football, later on.)Source: Smells Like Home  […]

  • October 27, 2014 at 11:06 AM

    […] The combination of flavors and textures in this salad is a total win. Soft, salty brie and spiced butternut sqash balance out the sweet candied pecans and the crunch of the Honeycrisp apples. Recipe here. […]

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  • October 28, 2014 at 4:23 PM

    […] 4. Sweet and Salty Fall Harvest Salad […]

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  • October 30, 2014 at 10:03 PM

    Definitely my favorite salad – hope you love it Jenny!

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  • October 28, 2015 at 10:28 AM

    […] 2. Sweet and Salty Fall Harvest Salad… We knew sweet and salty desserts were awesome, but who knew the same flavor fusion made the perfect salad combination? With butternut squash, Brie, bacon, kale, and cranberry, this salad is almost as beautiful as fall foliage itself. (Though it certainly tastes better.) Tip: Substitute goat cheese for the Brie and coconut oil for the butter. Recipe […]

  • Gloria
    November 19, 2015 at 10:39 AM

    I made this for dinner yesterday and it was a hit! Beautiful and yummy. Served it with boneless pork chops. Will definitely be making this again. Thanks Tara.

    • November 25, 2015 at 6:11 PM

      So wonderful to hear, Gloria! You’re so welcome…and thank YOU for coming back to leave a comment about it. 🙂

  • Rafiqua
    November 27, 2015 at 9:06 PM

    I’m making this today for a Thanksgiving potluck 🙂

  • onepoisonapple
    February 6, 2017 at 11:01 AM

    Our family of 9 LOVES this salad! We’ve made it at least 6 times in the past year-ISH, although it’s been requested much, much more. Sometimes we use Brie, other times goat cheese, and the man isn’t a huge fan of kale, so we hide it in fresh spinach and Romaine. So so so so so good. THANK YOU!

    • February 12, 2017 at 4:47 PM

      Yes!! This is still one of our favorite salads ever and we also love how adapted it is! My hubs has a tree nut allergy so he skips them altogether. We’ve also swapped the brie for aged gouda and feta. And I love how you hide the kale – sneaky smart!! Thanks so much for coming back and taking the time to leave a comment! So appreciated! 🙂

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