It’s October, can you believe it? For those of you now fully back in the groove of school and a more normalized work schedule, I thought I’d share one of my favourite, go-to lunches that’s both seasonal and packable. It’s been a while since I’ve posted a meal-sized salad, so I thought I’d share this autumnal farmers’ market-inspired salad with all of my favourite fall flavours.
Let’s have a chat about everyone’s favourite part of the salad: the dressing. Dressing is to salad as frosting is to cupcakes. It’s a mercurial condiment; too much and your meal is swampy, not enough and you’re left unsatisfied. No pressure or anything, but the success of your salad lies within the dressing. (Okay, it’s not that terribly serious, but I will say it is important. These things keep me up at night.)
A vinaigrette lends itself well to delicate leaves, like the mixed greens I’ve used today. Sturdier greens, such as kale and romaine, can take a heavier, creamy dressing. However, sometimes I like to go rogue. Having grown up on bottled salad dressing, it took me a few years to appreciate the homemade variation. Mine always tasted too olive oil-y, never sharp enough, and tended to turn out a bit flat. Well, no longer. I’m positive the secret to homemade salad dressing is a touch of sweet and a good dose of salt. Maple syrup and sea salt or tamari are the elements I gravitate towards to accomplish this. In a vinaigrette-type dressing like this, mustard is a good idea, and a mixture of acids–citrus and vinegar in this case–will make your salad sing. Salaaaaaad.
Retire your pb&j sandwiches for the remainder of the week. Salads will save your fall lunch doldrums. Roast the ingredients, make the dressing, and buy a package of spring mix; toss it all together and serve it with your favourite protein–a healthy lunch or dinner is served in less than an hour. Nice. You can be sated by salad!
A big bowl of greens, a little dressing, and a lot of squash will always make my day. Make it warm, pack it up for lunch, wrap it in a tortilla, eat it as a main, eat it as a side, or add the works to a bed of quinoa. Salad is a meal chameleon.
Sure, there’s a lot to think about when it comes to salad, but it doesn’t have to be a big production. The recipe I have for you here is seasonal, healthy, satisfying, make-ahead, and I think it could even head into the realm of entertaining. After all, ’tis the season to start thinking about these things.
I know what I’m having for lunch today!
- 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into ½-inch cubes
- 1 large sweet onion, halved and sliced into ½-inch ribbons
- 1 tbsp olive oil or avocado oil
- ½ tsp sea salt
- ¼ tsp ground black pepper
- 8 cups mixed greens
- 1 cup crumbled fresh goat cheese
- ½ cup walnuts, chopped
- 4 dried figs, slices
- Preheat oven to 400F. Toss squash and onion with olive oil or avocado oil, salt, and pepper. Roast for 35 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare remaining components.
- Whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl or shake together in a glass jar. Set aside until ready to use.
- In a large bowl, toss the greens with ¾ of the dressing. Divide evenly between 4 bowls or present this in one large salad bowl. Top with roasted squash, onions, walnuts, goat cheese, and figs. Drizzle each bowl with remaining dressing. Serve immediately.