This Harvest Salad is full of hearty fall vegetables, in season fruit drizzled with a healthy and simple apple cider vinaigrette. Made with kale, endive, crispy apples, fresh cranberries, pomegranate aerils, and crunchy pecans and seeds. Gluten free, vegan, refined sugar free with paleo, low carb, keto & Whole30 options.
Fall Harvest Salad Recipe
Looking for a healthy and delicious salad for fall? This Harvest Salad is quick and easy to make and is packed with a ton of hearty flavors of the season.
The great thing about fall salads is how quick and easy they come together. You can easily customize them with whatever you have in your fridge or kitchen pantry. We make salads at our home around 5 days a week and love adding seasonal vegetables and fruits to change things up.
Ingredients you need for this autumn salad
Salads are perfect for using up any extra leftover roasted vegetables from the farmer’s market. Since everybody in my family has their own preferences when it comes to their idea of a perfect autumn kale salad, we typically make a few variations:
For the harvest salad mix
- Kale – we love using Lacinato kale or curly kale. Be sure to massage it for a few minutes
- Curly endive – you can also use arugula or any other mixed greens you like.
- Crispy apples – we like Honeycrisp but you can also use Granny Smith, Pink Lady (cripps) or Fuji
- Nuts and Seeds: Pecans (or walnuts), Sliced almonds, Pumpkin seeds, Sunflower seeds
- Fresh cranberries (or cherries) – you can also use dried cranberries if you don’t have fresh on hand.
- Pomegranate seeds
Other optional add-ins:
- Sweet pears (Red Bartlett or Anjou)
- Roasted pumpkin (or your favorite squash like butternut squash, buttercup, delicata, acorn, kobocha etc.)
- Dairy-free or regular cheese – blue cheese or feta if not dairy-free or Whole30
For the salad dressing:
- Extra virgin olive oil OR avocado oil
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Dijon Mustard
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
How to make Harvest Salad
Our apple harvest salad is fairly quick and easy to make. This delicious harvest bowl makes a healthy lunch or dinner on the table and can be ready on the dinner table in about 30 minutes.
- Make the dressing: Whisk together the vinaigrette. Combine avocado oil, apple cider vinegar, orange juice (or lemon juice), Dijon mustard, thyme, salt and black pepper. Feel free to add sweetener of choice depending on what diet you are following. For a paleo friendly sweetener – add maple syrup or raw honey. For low carb / keto – use about 2 drops of liquid monk fruit or stevia. Leave out for whole 30.
- Wash and prep the greens. For the kale, tear the leaves off of the ribs. Add the kale to a large bowl along with 1 tablespoon of dressing. Massage the leaves for 2-3 minutes until the leaves have softened. Add chopped endive and another tablespoon of dressing and toss to combine. Allow to sit while you prepare the other ingredients.
- Assemble the salad: Slice or chop the apples and pears and layer on top of the kale.
- Once your roasted pumpkin is done, add to the salad. Place the sliced chicken on top (or leave out for a vegetarian / vegan version). Sprinkle with pecans, blueberries, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and slivered almonds.
- Toss: Drizzle the remaining dressing over the salad. Toss before serving.
How to roast the vegetables
- Skip if not adding roasted vegetables. Start off by dicing the pumpkin and roasting in the oven (or air fryer if you have one for 15-25 minutes) at 400F for about 25-35 minutes, or until pumpkin is tender. Serve with grilled chicken, protein or your favorite main dishes.
How to Prepare Kale for a Salad
My kids are actually big kale fans and will eat raw kale straight from the garden. But what if you’re not a big kale lover? Is kale good in a salad? I happen to think kale is perfect and makes a delicious vessel for a salad since it keeps well in the refrigerator for a few days. That means you can wash and prep it ahead of time on your Sunday or Monday meal prep day.
- Kale has lots of fiber which is one of its great health benefits. But when preparing kale for salads, you should tear or cut into thin little pieces.
- Remove the kale’s stem and only use the leaves
How to soften kale
- Massage the kale leaves for about 2-3 minutes with a little bit of your salad dressing. This helps to break down the plants fibrous cells. Although it’s an extra step – massaging the kale makes a big difference and is key when making delicious kale salads!
Our autumn harvest salad is delicious on its own or serve with some grilled or rotisserie chicken, salmon or protein of your choice.
Harvest Salad variations and substitutions
The great thing about this harvest kale salad bowl is how versatile it is.
- Not a fan of pumpkin? You can easily leave it out or make a harvest salad with butternut squash, sweet potatoes or even delicata squash instead.
- I don’t have pears – can I leave them out? Yes, of course! You don’t have to make a harvest fall salad with pears or even apples – leave them out for a low carb / keto options
- I’m allergic to nuts – can I leave out the pecans and almonds? Absolutely! Leave out both for a nut free autumn harvest salad.
- What is the best dressing for a kale salad? I happen to think kale goes best with a light and tangy apple cider or Dijon vinaigrette but a poppy-seed dressing would make a great choice
More healthy salad recipes you might like:
This Harvest Salad is full of hearty autumn vegetables, in season fruit drizzled with a healthy and simple apple cider vinaigrette. Made with kale, endive, crispy apples, fresh cranberries, pomegranate arils, and crunchy pecans and seeds. Gluten free, vegan, refined sugar free with paleo, low carb, keto & Whole30 options.
- 1 cup peeled and diced pumpkin , (can also sub with delicata, kabocha or butternut squash)
- 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
- 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 3 tablespoons avocado oil or olive oil
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice , for low carb use lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup , for low carb use 2 drops liquid monk fruit extract & leave out entirely for Whole 30
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt , or to taste
- freshly cracked black pepper , to taste
- 1 8 ounce bunch kale (about 4 cups) , stemmed & chopped
- 2 cups curly endive , leaves separated and chopped
- 1 apple (Honeycrisp, Granny Smith or Pink Lady) , washed & cut into slices (leave out for low carb / keto)
- 2 tablespoons toasted pecans
- 2 tablespoons toasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
- 1 tablespoon toasted sunflower seeds
- 1 tablespoon sliced almonds
- 1 tablespoon pomegranate arils , optional
- 3-4 fresh cranberries , optional
- 1 pear (red Bartlett) , washed and cut into slices (leave out for low carb / keto)
- 1/2 cup sliced cooked chicken breast , (rotisserie, baked or grilled)
Make the vinaigrette by adding avocado oil, apple cider vinegar, orange juice (or lemon juice), Dijon mustard, thyme, salt and black pepper in a mason jar or bowl and shake or whisk to combine.
Add sweetener of choice depending on what diet you are following. For a paleo friendly sweetener, use maple syrup and for low carb / keto - you can use 1-2 drops of liquid monk fruit or stevia.
Add kale and 1 tablespoon of vinaigrette to a large bowl. Massage leaves for 2-3 minutes, until leaves have softened. Add endive and another 1 tablespoon of dressing and toss to combine. Allow to sit while you prepare the other ingredients.
Slice or chop the apples and pears (if using) and layer on top of the kale.
Once your roasted pumpkin is done, add a few to your salad and top with chicken (or leave out for a vegetarian / vegan version), sprinkle some pecans, blueberries, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and slivered almonds.
Drizzle the remaining dressing over the salad. Toss before serving.
Preheat oven to 400 F. Spread pumpkin on a parchment lined baking sheet in a single layer. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Roast for 25-35 minutes until tender. (If you have an air fryer - you can also air fry for 15-20 minutest at 400F). Let cool.