Salad is a dish that can be enjoyed at any meal in any season. When I create a salad I think about the elements of texture, taste and, of course, nutrition.
The best and most important way to ensure that I am building a healthy salad is to make my own dressing. My go-to salad dressing is a vinaigrette with shallots. The salt and the vinegar help break down the cell walls of the greens and the fat in the olive oil allows our bodies to absorb all the wonderful vitamins and minerals in the salad. Before dressing the salad I always add a pinch of salt to the greens. The salt helps bring out the flavor of the lettuce. If the dressing goes on the greens directly it will mask the flavor of the produce in the salad.
In fall, farmers markets are abundant with hearty, seasonal greens. I like to use slightly bitter greens that hold their shape, such as frisee and raddichio. These greens pair nicely with fall fruits and rich cheeses.
It’s always nice to have a sweet element to a salad. I love the combination of pears and pomegranates. The pears bring a buttery texture and a mellow sweetness, while the pomegranates add little pops of tartness and acidity.
The next important factor is protein. For this salad I added lightly toasted walnuts. Walnuts are known as the king of nuts and are a rich source of healthy fats and have many vitamins and minerals. They pair well with fall fruits and add a nice crunch to the salad.
For a fall salad composed of tart and buttery fruits and bitter greens, a rich and creamy cheese —blue cheese or other bold-flavored French-style cheeses — will complement the bold fall flavors.
The best way to ensure that your salad will be delicious and nutritious is to purchase quality ingredients that are in season. I encourage you to experiment with different cheeses, fruits, proteins and greens to find your favorite harmonious blend of ingredients.