I already miss the vine-ripened tomato and basil salads of the warmer months. Turning out fall salads proves more challenging, but not at all impossible.
Think fall colors. Reds from radicchio and red grapes. Greens from spinach and peppery arugula. Golds from corn and sauteed onions. Fry those last of the garden tomatoes that never ripened. This is the time of the year for adding spice, such as Sriracha and crushed red pepper flakes, to salads. Break out the bacon fat for sauteing elements of the salad or roasting vegetables.
I keep an arsenal of salad goodies on hand to lure me into the kitchen: great croutons, nuts and seeds, homemade dressings and bags of prepped greens.
Adding a warm element to a salad suits the season. Think roasted shreds of chicken, turkey and pork. When roasting potatoes or vegetables, I cook extra just to tuck away for a salad; they’ll reheat nicely in the microwave.
Two Sisters Bakery in Homer, Alaska, arranges perfectly fried green tomatoes over a bed of local arugula. It ups the ante with a dressing of Sriracha mayonnaise. I employ a simple cornmeal coating and a butter and oil medium for crisping up green tomatoes. A scattering of cherry tomatoes, crisp cornbread croutons seasoned with black pepper, and a shower of chives complete the salad.
I love the colorful quinoa salad that follows for fall dinners and all holiday entertaining. The salad combines variations of red, from the protein-friendly quinoa to the crunchy radicchio and sweet red grapes. The recipe serves eight but keeps well for several days in the refrigerator. Serve it warm with roasted chicken or turkey on top. A handful of roasted nuts adds crunch in their stead.
The roasted onion vinaigrette recipe makes everyone a successful salad-maker. I keep a jar of bacon fat, rendered from our Sunday morning treat, to toss with sliced onions before roasting. The onions are used to flavor the dressing and can be added to salads for an amazing topping.
At our house, we serve hot and crusty bread alongside a great salad and call it dinner.