Autumn Salad with roasted sweet potatoes, apples, Parmesan, and a delicious maple vinaigrette. This fall salad is packed with good-for-you nutrients and will become a seasonal staple.
Why You'll Love this Autumn Salad
It's about time we start amping up our salads with all sorts of autumn flavors. I'm talking roasted sweet potatoes with a kick of cayenne, crisp apples, toasted pumpkin seeds, and the most delicious maple dressing.
This is the kind of salad you can make on repeat and never tire of. It's a celebration of textures and flavors with each bite being more tempting than the next. For a jolt of protein, feel free to top this fall salad with chicken, chickpeas, or baked tempeh. By using kale as the base, you can even make everything ahead and enjoy it for meal prep lunches.
A salad fancy enough for entertaining, yet streamlined enough for weeknight cooking. Now THAT'S my kind of fall formula.
Recipe Ingredients and Substituions:
- Greens: My go-to green for this salad is kale; lacinato kale, specifically. It's hearty and holds up well for leftovers, yet isn't as bracing or tough as other varieties. This nutrient-rich green also brings a substantial amount of Vitamin-A, Vitamin-C, and antioxidants to this salad. I especially love kale in tandem with peppery arugula, however you could use any mix of greens you like or have on hand.
- Sweet Potato: Roasted sweet potatoes add sweetness and heft to this fall salad. (PS: You can also use cubed butternut squash here!). The spuds get tossed in a mix of maple syrup, cinnamon, and cayenne to level our their sweetness. If you're heat adverse, feel free to leave out the cayenne, or swap it for chili powder.
- Apple: I love adding a fresh fruit element to a salad like this. Honeycrisp apples are my go-to, however you can also use pears and/or figs here. There's no need to peel the apple, as the skin actually contributes a decent amount of fiber and nutrients.
- Nuts/Seeds: These add crunch, toasty flavor, and healthy, satiating fats. I like pumpkin seeds (pepitas) in this salad, however walnuts or pecans would also be delicious. If they're not already roasted, be sure to toast them first for max impact.
- Cheese: Parmesan is my favorite for it's sharp, nutty flavor. Feta, blue cheese, or goat cheese are all delicious here, too. If making the salad vegan/dairy-free, you can sprinkle nutritional yeast overtop or use your favorite shredded plant-based cheesy shreds.
- Maple Dressing: This is arguably what brings the salad to LIFE. A simple, yet wildly flavorful dressing made of maple syrup, Dijon mustard, miso paste, vinegar, and EVOO. You may as well double the batch from the start--you'll be CRAVING this dressing long after the salad is gone.
Step 1: Roast Sweet Potatoes
Start by preheating your oven to 425ºF. Next, spread peeled and cubed sweet potatoes out on a baking sheet. In a small bowl, combine olive oil, maple syrup, cinnamon, cayenne, salt, and pepper; stir well. Pour maple mixture onto sweet potatoes and toss until all cubes are coated.
Place the sweet potatoes in the oven and bake 25 to 30 minutes, tossing once halfway through.
Step 2: Prepare Maple Vinaigrette
In a medium bowl, combine Dijon mustard, miso paste, maple syrup, and vinegar; mix well. Gradually stream in olive oil, whisking constantly, until the dressing is smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Step 3: Massage Kale
Place the kale in a large bowl and pour half the maple vinaigrette overtop. Use your hands to gently massage the dressing into the kale for about 30 seconds, until it starts to soften. (You'll the kale shrink down in size in the process.)
Step 4: Assemble Autumn Salad
Add arugula, apples, pumpkin seeds, pomegranate arils, and Parmesan into the bowl with the kale and toss to combine. Gently fold in sweet potatoes, and drizzle remaining maple vinaigrette overtop. I also like to garnish with extra Parmesan and pomegranate arils for good measure!
What to Serve with Fall Salad:
This salad is plenty satiating on its own, however it's also a beautiful complement to just about any protein. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Salmon: The flavor profile of this 5-Ingredient Maple Mustard Salmon perfectly suits the warm spices of the salad.
- Chicken: Shredded rotisserie, baked, or grilled chicken.
- Tempeh or Tofu: If you're looking for a tasty plant-based meal, this 20 Minute Balsamic Tofu or Peanut-Baked Tempeh are both hearty and super versatile.
- Beans: For a no-fuss protein topper, simply rinse and drain a can of chickpeas or navy beans to mix into the salad.
Make Ahead and Storage Tips
- To Make Ahead: Most of the components of this salad can be made ahead.
- Wash and chop your kale up to 1 day in advance and store in the refrigerator.
- Roast your sweet potatoes up to 2 days ahead and store in the refrigerator. Let them sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour prior to assembling the salad.
- Prepare your dressing up to 3 days in advance, storing it separately in the refrigerator.
- To Store.
- It's best to store the composed salad WITHOUT the arugula, which wilts quickly. Everything else can last (even after being dressed) for 2 to 3 days.
- If you plan on making this ahead for lunches, it's a good idea to make and save extra dressing to perk up your leftovers.
More Fall Salad Recipes to Try:
Autumn Salad with Maple Vinaigrette
- Sheet Pan/Baking Sheet
- Mixing bowls
- 1 Tbsp. olive or avocado oil
- 2 tsp. maple syrup
- ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 3 cups peeled and cubed sweet potatoes (about 2 small-medium potatoes)
- 1 bunch lacinato kale, stemmed and roughly chopped
- 2 cups arugula (sub spring mix or spinach)
- 1 medium apple, cored and sliced (or roughly chopped)
- 3 Tbsp. toasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
- ¼ cup shaved Parmesan or Pecorino cheese (sub plant-based cheesy shreds if making vegan)
- Pomegranate arils for garnish optional
- 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
- 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
- 2 tsp. white miso paste
- 2 Tbsp. cider vinegar
- 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 425ºF. In a small bowl, combine olive or avocado oil, maple syrup, cinnamon, cayenne, and salt; stir with a whisk. Arrange sweet potatoes on a baking sheet and pour maple mixture overtop; toss until cubes are well-coated. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, tossing once halfway through, until tender and caramelized.
- Prepare Maple Vinaigrette by combining mustard, maple syrup, miso, and vinegar in a bowl; stir to combine. Gradually stream in olive oil, whisking constantly, until dressing is smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Place kale in a large bowl and add half of dressing. Use your hands to massage dressing into kale leaves for about 30 seconds, until they start to soften. Add arugula, apple, pumpkin seeds, and cheese; toss to combine. Add sweet potatoes and remainder of dressing; gently toss again until all components are coated in dressing. Garnish with pomegranate arils, if desired.