Summer may have unofficially ended but that doesn't mean the end of salad days. In fact, fall is a great time for salads: Many summery ingredients, such as tomatoes and corn, are still available from local farms in much of the country, while markets are also adding cool-weather stars like hearty greens, winter squash, apples, pears, wild mushrooms and cauliflower to the mix.
Here are eight robust and healthy salad recipes featuring autumn ingredients. Each recipe is substantial enough to be a meal, but if you'd like to make one even more satisfying, you can always pump up the protein by adding chicken or other meats, seafood, beans, cheese or nuts and seeds.
"A salad doesn't need to be some boring afterthought," says Al Roker, who took the inspiration for this hearty grain salad from Charlie Bird Restaurant in New York City. "In fact, you can add in some grains and make it a hearty, filling, and of course, healthy meal." The salad includes roasted carrots, which are at their peak in fall, but you could also substitute or add other roasted fall veggies such as cauliflower or beets.
Kale salads may have reached their trendiness peak, but that doesn't mean that they can't still be delicious — and fall's fresh crop of tender kale is perfect for eating raw in salads. "I love this dish as a healthy lunch or dinner because it has the perfect balance of protein, carbs, fat and veggies," says chef Seamus Mullen, who shared the recipe from his cookbook "Real Food Heals: Eat to Feel Younger and Stronger Every Day." In addition to seasonal greens, the salad includes apples, which are at their best right now, too.
"There are many reasons that I love this warm lentil salad recipe," says chef Palak Patel. "First, it's because of the spices: the warmth of the coriander, the gorgeous color from the paprika and the little kick from the chile pepper. Second, because it's delicious warm or cold. Third, it's very versatile because you can also swap in seasonal vegetables and add protein on top. Finally, it's great for crowds and potluck dinners." Make a big batch of the lentils, then mix it up by adding different in-season veggies throughout the week.
"Winter" squash like butternut should start appearing at your farmers market in the fall, and it's wonderful roasted and added to salads like this one. You can also make this salad with leftover cooked squash. Feel free to sub in any kind of winter squash such as acorn or kabocha. Chickpeas add enough protein and heft to make this a main course salad, but it would also be great with chicken.
Kale isn't the only cruciferous vegetable that tastes great raw. Though shaving Brussels sprouts can be a bit of a pain (unless you have a food processor with a slicing attachment), it's worth it to make this addictive salad. Marcona almonds, cheese and hard-boiled eggs make this salad hearty enough for dinner, but you could toss in some additional nuts or some chickpeas or white beans to pump it up even more.
This simple recipe from Diane Kochilas's cookbook "Ikaria: Lessons on Food, Life, and Longevity from the Greek Island Where People Forget to Die" is inspired by the Greek island of Ikaria — a Blue Zone where the people are known for their longevity. The recipe calls for just a handful of ingredients, but to make it heartier, feel free to add your favorite protein source. This is another salad that would be great with chickpeas. Or some pumpkin seeds. Or your favorite nut.
Bagged salad mix and store-bought rotisserie chicken make this this main course salad from chef Ryan Scott a snap to make. While cultivated portobello mushrooms are available year round, many wild mushrooms are in season in the fall; feel free to sub any you find at your market in the salad. Or if you hate mushrooms, leave them out — the salad will still be delicious!
8. Kale Crunch Salad With Avocado and Sourdough Croutons
"Kale gets a bad rap for being, well, kale, but there are so many wonderful ways to make this nutritious leafy vegetable fun to eat," explains chef Samah Dada. She likes to add bunch of textural elements to her kale salads because the sturdiness of kale can hold up to all kinds of toppings, like sourdough croutons, grape tomatoes, white beans and avocado.