Crisp Autumn Salad

Crisp Autumn Salad | memo2munch

“Salad?” I can hear you scoffing from all the way over here. “It’s the first day of October, which everyone knows is the REAL beginning of fall, and you give me a salad?”

Well, all of that is indeed true. I know you’re ready for apple crisp and pumpkin bread and anything with maple syrup involved, but see, here’s the thing. I think salad has been underrepresented on this blog. So I’m giving it a lil spotlight today.

Crisp Autumn Salad | memo2munch

It also helps that this salad might possibly be the BEST salad of my twenty years of existence. We’re talking big stuff, here.

Oh, and did I mention this salad is SATISFYING? In my opinion, it is this characteristic (or lack thereof, typically) which gives salad a kinda bad rep.

And yeah, it makes sense. I don’t expect anyone to eat a bowl of paper-thin leaves and come away from that experience feeling full and satisfied. (It just can’t be done) But you know what is satisfying?
-snappy raw green beans (our farmer’s market has fantastic ones right now)
-juicy grapes
-chewy pumpkin seeds
-crunchy almonds
-a smooth coating of olive oil

It’s a matter of texture! Give your mouth some variety, not only in the flavor of ingredients but in shape and bite, too. You’ll never have another boring salad.

Crisp Autumn Salad | memo2munch

Crisp Autumn Salad | memo2munch

I love adding whole grains to my salads, like brown rice or quinoa. They add a great chew to salads, and some pretty awesome nutrients, too. You CAN have it all.

So enjoy this nummy salad this week, and next week I PROMISE I will have some scrumptious fall carbs for you. Scout’s honor.

Crisp Autumn Salad | memo2munch

Crisp Autumn Salad | memo2munch

Crisp Autumn Salad

2-3 large handfuls greens
2 tbsp. sliced almonds
2 tbsp. pumpkin seeds
¼ c. red grapes, sliced in half
¼ c. raw green beans, cut into 1-2 inch sections
2-3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Balsamic vinegar to taste, optional
Chevre or feta to taste, optional

1. Place greens in a bowl. Top with almonds, pumpkin seeds, grapes, and green beans. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, if using. Season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with chevre, if desired.

Warm Squash, Apple, & Lentil Salad

I am all for a good, crisp, fresh salad. I really am.

Totally customizable, and obviously full of nutrients. But I mean, during the winter… I would kinda rather have something that’s more…

Well, warm. I want something warm. And hearty. And filling.

Warm Squash, Apple & Lentil Salad | memo2munch

As much as I love salad, it just doesn’t cut it when the temperature is lower than my age.

Ideally I could just live off of sweet rolls and muffins all winter. Those are warm! Buuuut we gotta treat our bodies better than that and give ’em some nutrients.

(My stomach, for its part, would like me to inform you that it thinks eating exclusively carbs would be treating it well. Agree to disagree.)

Warm Squash, Apple & Lentil Salad | memo2munch

I’ve got the perfect solution for ya. Behold: the warm squash, apple, and lentil salad of awesomeness! *ness ness ness…* <— that was an echo. If you weren’t sure. (sorry)

Warm Squash, Apple & Lentil Salad | memo2munch

Oh my gosh, guys. This salad. I hesitate to even call it a salad simply because it has alllll of the characteristics I want in a meal during the winter!

Savory, satisfying lentils. Nourishing acorn squash. The comforting scent of cinnamon mingling with lemon.

Seriously, how is this a salad?!

Warm Squash, Apple & Lentil Salad | memo2munch

I’ve noticed that a lot of people think that eating seasonally during the winter automatically means not getting enough nutrients or variety. This is absolutely not the case! There are tons of nutrient-dense foods available during the winter.

There are more types of squash in season right now than I can name. You’ve still got your kale and sweet potatoes and brussels sprouts. Clementines are in season, too. THERE ARE OPTIONS! Check out your local winter farmer’s market if you have one, and see what’s there. I bet you’ll find something good. 🙂

Warm Squash, Apple & Lentil Salad | memo2munch

You can easily slice the squash into wedges so that it will cook faster, but I loved how the salad looked piled inside. Also, the recipe makes enough lentils for you to have some leftover. Get creative with them during the rest of the week! You can toss them in soup, or wrap them in a tortilla with some hummus and veggies, or mix them with sauteed spinach, for example!

Warm Squash, Apple & Lentil Salad | memo2munch


Warm Squash, Apple & Lentil Salad
Serves 2
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For the squash
  1. 2 tbsp. olive oil
  2. 1/2 ground cinnamon
  3. granulated sugar (optional)
  4. 1 medium acorn squash, scrubbed, halved, and seeded
For the lentils
  1. 3 tbsp. olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  2. 1/2 medium shallot, minced
  3. 2 garlic cloves, minced
  4. 1 cup (7 oz) green lentils, rinsed
  5. 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  6. 1.5 tbsp. lemon juice
  7. salt and pepper
To finish
  1. 1/2 golden delicious apple, cut into 1/2 inch thick wedges
  2. Mixed greens
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Coat each squash half completely with 1 tbsp of oil, including skin. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar, if using.
  2. Place the halves on a foil-lined baking sheet, cut edges up. Bake in oven until soft and tender, 45 minutes to an hour.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, heat half of the oil. Add the shallot and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until lightly golden, about five minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 2 minutes. Stir in the lentils and 1.5 cups water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat until lentils are tender and all of the liquid has been absorbed, about 30 minutes. Transfer lentils to a small bowl and let cool briefly. Stir in the thyme, lemon juice, and remaining oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Place the squash halves on plates, and top with mixed greens, lentils, and apple slices. Drizzle with more olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Adapted from Food & Wine
Adapted from Food & Wine

Apple Toasted Pecan Salad

“Ewwwww, Molly, why are you posting a salad recipe this close to Thanksgiving? We all know you’re stuffing your face with holiday “cheer,” aka cookies and any other form of baked good you can get your hands on!”


Yes. (No shame.)


BUT that doesn’t mean I completely forego the healthy stuff. You’ve got to have balance, friends! I actually start to crave something healthy after a while of eating the sweet stuff. Also, tip: eating a healthy breakfast means later in the day you can splurge a little. 😉

However, even though this salad is healthy it is still a decadent little charmer. The apples and raisins bring out the subtle sweetness in the dressing, which is perfectly light and not overpowering. Toasted pecans add a phenomenal crunch and flavor to the whole salad. The textures in that bowl! My oh my.

Added bonus: this salad is magical. You can’t tell how many raisins you’ve added because they have a habit of falling through the gaps in the spinach to the very bottom of the bowl. If you don’t catch on to tricky raisins like me and keep adding more and more… you basically end up with a vineyard at the bottom of your bowl!

Not kidding, the whole bottom of my bowl was coated in raisins. How magical! Guess I don’t need college. I’m a salad-bowl entrepreneur.


PLEASE, please, please take the time to toast the pecans! It really brings the vineyard-salad to a whole new level. (And you’ll thank me for the delicious aroma wafting through your home as a result.) It literally takes 5 minutes to toast them, and you don’t even dirty a pan because wax paper is SUCH a dear. I promise you won’t regret the little bit of extra time.

You can buy your own salad dressing if you want, but this homemade one is super easy. All the ingredients were already in my house. (Then again, my mother has a whole arsenal of cooking equipment under this roof that I had noooo idea about. Every time I come home I discover something new. For instance, we have a loaf pan. A LOAF PAN. What?! You better believe I made bread! The recipe will be on here soon, veeeery soon.)

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To toast the pecans:

Preheat oven to 350° F. Spread wax paper on a pan. Spread pecans on pan in a single layer. Toast in oven for 5-7 minutes. EASY PEASY.

For the dressing:

1 c. oil
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. vinegar
3 T. Dijon Mustard
1 T. Worcestershire
1/2 t. salt

Blend ingredients together. The oil and vinegar will separate when left to sit, so make sure to stir before using.

Apple Toasted Pecan Salad

2 c. Spinach
1/3 c. Raisins
1/3 c. Pecans, toasted
1/2 of an apple, sliced thin

Toss spinach, raisins, pecans, and apples in a bowl. Top with dressing to taste.