Fall Chopped Salad – This yummy main dish salad makes a delicious lunch or dinner all season long. You’ll LOVE the dressing! (Gluten-Free & Paleo)
I know it’s basically Pumpkin All The Things(!!!) right now, but has anyone else been excited about apple season? I love eating apples during their peak season, and I’ve been dying for a good Honeycrisp apple for ages. They’re FINALLY HERE in all their in-season glory!!!
Besides eating at least one apple a day, I’ve been popping them into everything I can think of–pairing them with my favorite flavored almond butters, adding them to baked oatmeal, sliding them into grilled sandwiches (TRY IT!!!), and eating them in salads as often as possible.
Although it’s not exactly warm and cozy, this Fall Chopped Salad really tastes like fall. Here’s why it’s what fall dreams are made of…
WHAT’S IN FALL CHOPPED SALAD?
My Fall Chopped Salad is loaded with fresh apples, ripe pear, smoky bacon, sweet dried cranberries, crunchy nuts, and a creamy, tangy dressing to finish things off.
ALL ABOUT THAT BASE (GREENS!). You can use whatever greens you like here–romaine, spring mix, butter lettuce, an Italian blend with radicchio and arugula…whatever! I used a “Rosé blend” for these photos and video, with a mix of butter lettuce, baby oak leaf, Pak-Choi, red leaf lettuce, and radicchio.
SMOKY BACON. This salty, savory note balances out the sweetness of the fall fruits and gives this fall chopped salad a bit more substance. I love it. (I usually look for uncured bacon.)
APPLES. Use whatever sounds best to you! My very favorite apples are Honeycrisp apples. THE BEST in flavor (sweet and slightly tart) and texture (juicy and crisp).
PEARS. You can use whatever’s on sale or looks best. I used Bartlett pears this time, but Anjou, Bosc, red pears, and Asian pears work well!
PECANS. I toast mine for a few minutes in a dry pan to wake up the flavor. You could also swap in candied pecans (or another nut!) if you like.
A LITTLE RED ONION. Another little savory note helps balance out the sweetness. If you want more mild flavor, you can swap for green onion.
DRIED CRANBERRIES OR CHERRIES. Perfect little gems to round out the salad’s taste and texture.
LET’S TALK DRESSING! WHAT KIND OF DRESSING GOES ON FALL CHOPPED SALAD?
Since the apple and pear bring a lot of sweetness to this Fall Chopped Salad, I think a salad dressing with some tang really balances those flavors nicely. I LOVE this salad with honey mustard dressing–the sweetness, tang, and the acidity are just right to play off the other flavors in this salad!
Even Michael (my mustard-hating husband) loves this dressing. But if honey mustard isn’t your jam, this fall chopped salad also plays nice with other dressing options. Some of our faves are:
WHAT TO SERVE WITH FALL CHOPPED SALAD:
One thing I love about this salad is how easily it can switch from a main dish to a side dish. We enjoy it both ways all season long!
SERVE IT AS A MAIN DISH WITH A SIDE OF:
- Maple Cornbread
- Pumpkin Cornbread Muffins
- Gluten Free Rosemary Focaccia
- A Cup of Roasted Tomato Basil Soup or Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
SERVE IT AS A SIDE DISH ALONG WITH:
- Grilled or Rotisserie Chicken
- Sautéed Chicken Sausage (Chicken Apple sausage has some nice fall vibes!)
- A Fancy (or “Fancy”) Roast, like Brown Sugar Balsamic Pork Roast
- A Big Bowl of Soup–(the Roasted Tomato Basil or Roasted Butternut Squash Soup I mentioned above are nice!)
FAQ + TIPS FOR FALL CHOPPED SALAD.
ADD MORE VEGGIES. Celery is one of my favorites to add here, but you can get creative! (Cucumber, some roasted squash or roasted sweet potatoes, etc.)
ADD MORE PROTEIN! You can easily pump up the protein by adding 1-2 cups of diced or shredded cooked chicken to the salad. It’s a great way to use leftovers!
ADD SOME CHEESE! In my pre-dairy-free life, I loved topping this with a bit of feta, cotija, or even blue cheese. Such a yummy salty note!
CAN I MAKE THIS AHEAD OF TIME? I find that Honeycrisp apples don’t brown as much as other apples do, but the pears are a bit delicate. I don’t make this more than an hour or so before I plan to eat it, and I wait to add the dressing until right before serving. The dressing can be made well in advance.
LOVE THIS? I BET YOU’D LIKE:
- Autumn Cobb Salad with Rosemary Croutons
- Thai Chopped Salad with Peanut Drizzle
- Powerhouse Quinoa Salad
- BLT Salad with Creamy Ranch
- Italian Chopped Salad with Italian Dressing
Originally posted October 2012. Post, recipe, photos & video completely updated August 2019.