It’s that time of year again. Breathtaking fall foliage. Crisp air. Sweater weather. And pumpkin spice. But, let’s not forget the hearty harvest salads that are showing up on menus for the season.
Origin and tradition
The concept of a harvest salad is deeply rooted in the agricultural tradition of celebrating the bounty of the land as we transition from warm to cooler seasons. Historically, communities across the globe have rejoiced the harvest season with feasts that highlight the produce of the time.
While it’s challenging to pinpoint a specific origin story for harvest salads, they can be seen as an extension of this age-old tradition of celebrating autumn’s bounty.
One of the unique features of harvest salads is the incorporation of seasonal ingredients that are at their peak during the fall. This includes a variety of vegetables like squash, beets, Brussels sprouts, and kale; fruits such as apples, pears and cranberries; nuts like pecans, walnuts and almonds; and grains including farro, quinoa and wild rice.
Unlike summer salads, harvest salads often have warm elements with the inclusion of roasted vegetables or warm grains, adding a comforting, hearty feel to the meal. The ingredients chosen for these salads offer a rich array of flavors and textures, from the sweetness and crunch of fresh apples to the earthy, tender beets, and the nutty, chewy texture of grains. Moreover, the vibrant colors of fall produce like beets, squash, and pomegranate seeds give harvest salads a visually appealing look that reflects the autumn palette.
Harvest salads are often nutrient-dense due to the fresh, seasonal ingredients used, providing a good source of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. They also offer versatility as they can be easily adapted to include a variety of nutrient-rich foods, making them a healthy choice for those looking to maintain a balanced diet.
The inclusion of fiber-rich vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, along with healthy fats from nuts and possibly cheese or a wholesome dressing, can promote satiety and provide sustained energy.
Local harvest salads
Whether you’re up for going out on the town or want to stay home snuggled up in front of the fire, there are options for all.
Fall Salad ($17.00) at The Dixboro Project
Farm greens, roasted delicata squash, vanilla scented pickled apples, rosemary, candied hazelnut, caramelized honey and a whey vinaigrette complete this tantalizing salad.
5400 Plymouth Road, Ann Arbor.
Autumn Farro Salad ($16.95) at Seva Restaurant
This vegan salad includes baby arugula, farro (ancient wheat grain), fried Brussels sprouts, apples, roasted butternut squash and sunflower seeds with a balsamic vinaigrette on the side.
2541 Jackson Avenue, Ann Arbor.
Big Salad ($15.00) at Harvest Kitchen
Their signature seasonal salad with quinoa, pepitas, roasted carrots, feta, cranberries and balsamic vinaigrette features local greens and seasonal veggies.
This is an Ann Arbor-based food delivery service that partners with Tantre Farm in Chelsea.
Autumn Salad ($15.00 ) at Juicy Kitchen
Organic spring mix, fried goat cheese, roasted delicata squash, crunchy apples, dried cherries, toasted pepitas and mustardy-maple-tahini dressing.
1506 N. Maple Road, Ann Arbor.
Michigan Fall Salad ($12.79) at Grand Traverse Pie Company
Loaded with local Michigan produce including a green leaf/kale lettuce blend, quinoa, fresh apples, red onions, roasted butternut squash, goat cheese and pumpkin seeds topped with a creamy pumpkin dressing, this salad is not offered online but is available at the restaurant or can be ordered for pickup or delivery by calling (734) 997-9702.
291 N. Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor.
Julie’s Farr-Out Fall Salad ($5.99) at Zingerman’s Deli
The best fall flavors of butternut squash, kale and pumpkin seeds are paired with hearty farro and dressed with a sherry vinaigrette, goat cheese and herbs.
422 Detroit Street, Ann Arbor.
Do It Yourself
Crafting your own harvest salad can be seen as an artistic expression. You might begin with a base of hearty greens, add a variety of colorful mixture of roasted and raw vegetables, include a portion of grains, a handful of nuts, some fresh or dried fruit, and finish with a simple vinaigrette perhaps infused with autumnal herbs like rosemary or thyme.
The key is to balance flavors, textures and nutritional value while celebrating the seasonal produce available. Harvest salads are a beautiful, healthful and delicious way to celebrate the changing seasons and the bounty of fall produce, encapsulating the essence of autumn and providing a nutritious, satisfying meal option.
Here is a perfect recipe to get you going on your own personalized version.