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Welcome fall with a hearty salad and roasted garlic vinaigrette

Sarah's love of food led her down what she calls "the culinary rabbit hole," leaving her management job to first apprentice on an organic vegetable farm and then to write about and photograph food professionally. Her agricultural backgro...

A hearty autumnal salad made with roasted garlic vinaigrette

Welcome fall with a satisfying salad of greens, pears, sweet potatoes and spiced pecans tossed in a sage and roasted garlic dressing.

I have to admit, I get a little bummed about the end of summer, especially saying goodbye to produce like corn and peaches. My moping doesn't last long, though, because I have plenty of fall goodies to get me psyched about the new season. In particular, I embrace the reintroduction of leafy salads into my life. Summer's heat may help tomatoes thrive, but tender greens wait for cooler temperatures to grow without bitterness.

This salad recipe is a celebration of the season, combining spinach and arugula and topped with roasted sweet potatoes, pears and spiced, caramelized pecans. I added buckwheat, a hearty grain (well, a seed used as a grain) for staying power. I eat buckwheat year-round but its earthy flavor works particularly well here. Dressed with a sage and roasted garlic vinaigrette, this dish is filling and full of the rich flavors of autumn, but somehow maintains the lightness I look for in a salad.

A hearty autumnal salad made with roasted garlic vinaigrette

Fall salad with sage and roasted garlic vinaigrette

Serves 2 as a meal or 4 as a side dish

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium sweet potato, chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/3 cup buckwheat groats
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 3 cups baby spinach
  • 3 cups arugula
  • 1 pear, sliced
  • Sage and roasted garlic vinaigrette, recipe below

Directions:

  1. Cook the sweet potatoes and spiced pecans: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a baking dish, toss the sweet potato with 1/2 tablespoon olive oil. In another, smaller ovenproof container, toss the pecans with the cinnamon, maple syrup and remaining 1/2 tablespoon olive oil and spread in a single layer. Place the sweet potatoes and pecans in the oven. Remove the pecans once deeply browned and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Stir the sweet potatoes and continue roasting until tender but not mushy, about another 10 minutes. Cool completely.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the buckwheat: In a small pot, stir together the buckwheat and water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to low. Cook until the buckwheat is tender, about five minutes. Drain in a fine mesh strainer and rinse with cold water.
  3. In a large bowl, toss together the spinach and arugula. Top with the sweet potatoes, spiced pecans, buckwheat, pear slices and drizzle with the vinaigrette. Toss to combine. Serve immediately.

Sage and roasted garlic vinaigrette recipe

To save time, roast the garlic at the same time you prepare the sweet potatoes and pecans for the salad.

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, divided use
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon prepared mustard (I used whole grain)
  • 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cut off the top quarter of the head of garlic so that the cloves are exposed. Place on a piece of aluminum foil and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Seal the foil tightly around the garlic and roast until very soft, about 45 minutes. Once cool enough to handle, squeeze to remove the roasted garlic from the head.

Add the roasted garlic, remaining 1/4 cup olive oil, vinegar, honey, mustard, sage, salt and pepper to a food processor or blender, and process until creamy and smooth (some flecks of sage and mustard seed may remain).

More fall salad recipes

Apple walnut salad
Spinach salad with beets and walnuts
Spinach salad with fresh figs, cranberries and walnuts

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