After a long weekend of roasts and leftovers—not to mention more holidays coming down the pipeline fast and furious—having a couple of fresh salads in your back pocket isn’t a bad idea. The trick is to keep them seasonal. Use heartier cold-weather greens such as spinach or kale, turn to in-season brassicas such as kohlrabi, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts, and add sweetness with fall fruits such as persimmons and pomegranate seeds. The salads here share another sweet element: a touch of maple syrup.
Maple can get overused this time of year, even for maple lovers (sap may run in the spring but chefs tend to turn to its earthy sweetness in the fall). Yet just a touch in a vinaigrette can turn a regular salad into something that makes people say “hey, what is that?” These favorites from Edibles around the country help you get that effect along with the extra servings of crunchy raw produce you crave this week.
This version of a maple vinaigrette gets drizzled on fall favorites such as spinach, dried cranberries, and crisp apples to create a side salad or a base for a heartier meal if you add a few slices of roast tenderloin or chicken. (Note: The recipe makes an enormous amount of dressing—reduce the cups to tablespoons for an amount a home cook would use.)
For a different take on maple dressing, try this salad of Brussels sprouts, kale, and wild rice—along with crunchy apples and walnuts—that features both minced shallot and garlic for something a little extra for the maple syrup to sweeten up.
Apples, kohlrabi, and celery crunch along together in this salad with a simple white balsamic vinaigrette. The key ingredient—or at least the one that may be difficult to resist snacking on while preparing the salad—is the maple-sweetened spiced hazelnuts.
Spinach salad with hot bacon dressing gets a bit of a twist in this salad that includes arugula and a bit of maple syrup in the dressing, along with mushrooms, hard-cooked egg, pickled red onions, and crunchy pecans. A loaf of crunchy bread turns this into a spare supper, which sounds pretty good right about now.
Of course, you can add that maple edge to any vinaigrette you like—just a teaspoon or so to your favorite recipe or in place of any honey or other sweetener will do the trick.