I’m a fan of a big, fresh salad for dinner. Sometimes I just need that. Especially in the summer when it’s too hot to cook (and then eat) something warm.
But salads for dinner don’t have to be just a summer thing. Occasionally I need something fresh to break up all the heaviness of winter roasts, soups, and bakes.
This is my family’s favorite fall through winter salad. When I’m serving it for dinner, I might serve it with a roasted veg on the side. I also add sliced chicken breast because it’s pretty fruit forward so as a main dish I like to have plenty of protein to balance it out. But I’ve also taken this salad to potlucks and holiday gatherings as side dish - sans chicken.
This salad is colorful, abounding in goodies, and full of autumn flavors in each bite. Consider this for those upcoming holiday gatherings (Thanksgiving, I’m looking at you) or as a quick dinner when you’ve been out Christmas shopping all day. It’s sure to be a crowd pleaser!
Autumn Chopped Salad
adapted only slightly from Iowa Girl Eats
1 head of lettuce, washed and chopped
6-8 slices of center-cut bacon
1 pear, chopped
1 apple, chopped
¼ c. peanuts (can also use another nut such as toasted pecans), chopped
¼ c. cranberries (I buy cranberries sweetened with apple juice and they are larger so I chop them too)
Balsamic vinaigrette or poppy seed dressing, to taste
Optional: Cooked chicken* (leftover is great), feta cheese or goat cheese
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lay bacon slices in a single layer. Cook until they reach your desired doneness.
- Meanwhile, chop all salad ingredients and make my favorite balsamic dressing. Once bacon is cooked and cooled, chop that too.
- Put prepared lettuce in a large bowl and top with all the other goodies. Drizzle with dressing and give it a toss. Serve and enjoy!
*If you are cooking chicken specifically for this salad, I love to marinate 1 lb. chicken in 1 clove minced garlic, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. pepper, 2 Tbsp. olive oil, and a generous drizzle of balsamic vinegar for 30 minutes. Then throw it in the oven with the bacon for about 20 minutes.
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