There are so many great things about autumn – apple picking, Halloween, those small gourds with the bumps all over them that look like warts (I really enjoy those for some reason!). And this year, I’m leaning into autumn hard, because this is my first East Coast autumn after living in California for the past ten years. Yes, this summer my family and I made the move back home after living on the opposite coast for so long, and it’s been…an adjustment. We loved California and it really felt like home to us, so coming back here was a really tough decision to make. But ultimately, being near our families, especially now that we have our baby daughter, was really the right decision. And now that the horrible humid summer is over, I’m celebrating! Autumn in a state that actually, you know, HAS WEATHER is really nice.
To get in the autumnal mood, I created this salad that features some beautiful seasonal fruits and vegetables, all in vibrant fall colors. And after eating about 6 of these guys while I was testing that recipe, I wanted to lighten things up a bit too! The citrus and pickled onion add a nice tangy contrast to the starchy vegetables, and the toasted cashews round out the salad with a bit of crunch. It’s finished off with a simple vinaigrette flavored with more pickled onion.
This salad is really versatile; you can substitute some of your favorite fall fruits and vegetables if some of these aren’t available (red potatoes would work in place of purple), and you can add in any type of grain you like – even wild rice would be nice. Or no grains at all and just keep it all fruits and veggies if you like. Use your best judgement on the amount of salad dressing if you are adding or taking out ingredients, and if you are the kind of person who likes extra dressing (like me!), the dressing recipe is easy to double.
One tip I will give you from my experience making this salad is to be sure to liberally salt the roasted vegetables. They really need a nice amount of salt to bring out the flavor, and some of the salt always comes off on the baking sheet anyways. And adding salt and pepper to the greens is important too, lettuce deserves flavor too!
I hope this salad helps get you into the autumn mood too!Print
Beautifully colored autumn salad with roasted vegetables, persimmon, blood orange, and pickled red onion
- 1/2 large red onion
- 4 – 5 blood oranges, navel oranges, or tangerines (or a combination of those), divided
- 1/4 c. plus 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar, divided
- 2 c. purple potatoes, peeled and cut into ½ – ¾ inch cubes (about 3 small potatoes)
- 2 c. butternut squash, peeled and cut into ½ – ¾ inch cubes (about ⅓ medium squash)
- 2 c. beets, peeled and cut into ½ – ¾ inch cubes (about 1 large beet)
- 2 c. cooked bulgar wheat or quinoa (optional)
- 3/4 c. raw cashews (can substitute roasted cashews)
- 1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil, plus more for cooking
- 1 tsp. honey
- 2 fuyu persimmons (see note)
- 5 oz. arugula
- salt and pepper
Make pickled onion:
- Place sliced onion in a bowl. Juice citrus to make ¼ c. juice (about 1 – 1 ½ fruits depending on size and juiciness). Add juice, ¼ c. red wine vinegar and ½ t. Salt to onions. Stir and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 425°
- Add peeled and cubed butternut, purple potato, and beets to sheet pan covered in foil (put beets on separate pan to avoid colors running together). Do not crowd vegetables on pans, they need space around them to roast properly.
- Drizzle with olive oil and toss on sheet pan to evenly coat with oil. Sprinkle very generously with salt and pepper.
- Roast vegetables in oven for 35-45 minutes or until fork-tender. Stir halfway through cooking time to ensure vegetables are evenly cooked.
While vegetables are roasting, prep remaining salad ingredients:
- If using, start cooking bulgar wheat or quinoa. Follow cooking instructions on bag, but be sure to salt cooking water.
- Toast cashews: Heat 1/2 tsp. olive oil in frying pan set to medium heat. Once oil is hot, add cashews, stir and cook until evenly brown, about 5 minutes. Watch nuts carefully so they don’t burn. Season with salt. (If using already roasted and salted nuts, add to a dry pan set to medium, and cook for 1-2 minutes just until nuts become fragrant.) Remove nuts from pan and set aside.
- Prep fruit: Peel persimmons, cut in half vertically and then slice into ¼ inch wedges. Cut top and bottom off of remaining 3 blood oranges (or other citrus), enough to remove the white pith. Take knife around sides of the orange to peel, again, cutting deep enough so all the white pith is removed. Cut peeled orange in half vertically and then each half into ½ inch slices.
- Make dressing: In bowl of food processor or container suitable for use with a stick blender, combine ¼ c. olive oil and ¼ c. liquid from pickled onions. Add 1-2 T. additional red wine vinegar depending on taste. Add 1 tsp. honey, 1 t. salt (or more to taste) and a sprinkle of black pepper. Add in about ¼ c. pickled onion. Blend with stick blender or in food processor until emulsified and smooth.
- Wait until vegetables have cooled slightly before assembling (can be used warm or at room temperature). Add greens to a large salad bowl, season with salt and pepper. Add remaining ingredients to the bowl and toss to coat with dressing (if not using grains, may want to add less dressing depending on your preference). Or, for a more elegant appearance, assemble salads in individual bowls: arrange a bed of arugula on each bowl, season greens with salt and pepper. Add roasted vegetables, fruit and pickled onion on top, drizzle with dressing and sprinkle on toasted cashews.
There are 2 types of persimmons commonly available in the US, fuyu and hachiya. The fuyu persimmon is smaller and flatter (looks sort of like a tomato). Unlike the hachiya persimmon, the fuyu can be eaten when still firm and is therefore perfect for slicing into salads. The hachiya persimmon is high in tannins, and is only palatable when it is so ripe it is mushy, so the hachiya cannot be substituted here. If you can’t find persimmons, you can just leave them out, add more orange, or substitute with apples or pears (toss with lemon juice first to avoid browning!).