Editor’s Note: This is the first in a monthly series of recipes in which Beth Dooley, author of “In Winter’s Kitchen”, will talk about enjoying the bounty of the Upper Midwest even in the cold, barren months ahead.
Who says salad season ends with Labor Day? Come late in the season, the farmers markets are loaded with brilliant red cabbage, peppery radishes, sugary carrots, tart apples, rough turnips, mellow celeriac. Raw or cooked, the autumn harvest makes the best salads in endless variations right through the frost. Their vibrant colors brighten my day as light fades and winter nears.
These autumn salads make great use of any leftover odds and ends in the vegetable drawer. Because of their sturdy nature, cabbages, radishes, carrots, turnips, and celeriac will hold nicely for several days in the refrigerator. In fact, these salads taste even better over time as the flavors marry and the ingredients become a little tender. Add roast squash or sweet potato, roast chicken, sautéed shrimp, or grilled tofu. Toss in a hearty grain—barley, farro, or wild rice—and you have a light meal in a bowl. Pair this with a big bowl of curried squash soup or wild rice pilaf and call it a harvest feast.
When preparing these salads, keep it simple. Chop all the vegetables together at once. If you plan to roast squash, beets, and or sweet potatoes, cut them the same size before roasting as well. This way, once they’re tossed together, the different ingredients will fit together nicely on the fork in one bite. Just about any vegetable in season will work, so don’t hesitate to mix things up and use whatever you’ve got.
The best dressings for these are light vinaigrettes that lift the flavors and accentuate textures. Citrus—lemon, lime, blood orange, grapefruit—these are less acidic than vinegar and so will need less oil to balance the flavors out while retaining a nice sharp bite. Use a ratio of one part oil to one part acid. Then, add the seasonings you like best—a dash of curry, or grated ginger, or mustard and maple syrup.
The big sturdy leaves of red or green cabbage make naturally pretty individual salad bowls. Hollow out a roasted pumpkin or squash to present a salad in, too. As the season progresses you can work in fresh chopped cranberries and dried fruit for sweetness and tang. These salads celebrate autumn’s bounty, quickly and easily, saving time in the kitchen so you can go carve a pumpkin, pick a few apples, grab a beer, and jump in that big pile of leaves.
Fresh Autumn Vegetable Salad
This will keep several days in the refrigerator in a covered bowl. Feel free to vary the vegetables, just be sure they’re fresh and crunchy. Serves four to six.
2 cups chopped cabbage
½ cup chopped radishes
½ cup chopped carrots
¼ cup chopped green onions
¼ cup lemon or lime juice
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger, or more to taste
1 teaspoon honey, or more to taste
¼ cup vegetable oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a large bowl, toss together the cabbage, radishes, carrots, and onions. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon or lime juice, ginger, honey, and oil. Season to taste. Toss in just enough dressing to lightly coat and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Roasted Acorn Squash Salad with Ginger
Our fresh local ginger is a revelation—so tender and juicy it hardly needs peeling. Find it in co-ops and at the farmers markets. You can make this with other squash varieties or sweet potatoes, too. Serves 4 to 6.
1 medium acorn squash
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Generous pinch salt
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
2 cups chopped fresh kale
¼ cup plain whole milk Greek yogurt
¼ cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger root
1 teaspoon honey or more to taste
Generous pinch freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut the squash into eight 1-inch thick crescents; remove the seeds, and place in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the cinnamon, salt, and oil; add to the squash and toss to coat. Arrange the wedges on the baking sheet and roast for about 35 to 45 minutes until golden and slightly brown, turning several times. Remove and set aside.
Turn the kale onto a platter or serving bowl; arrange the squash on top, drizzle with the yogurt, and garnish with the cilantro.