Autumn Steak Salad

I know salads for dinner are usually thought of as a summer thing. They are light and refreshing and rarely involve turning on an oven in the heat of the summer.
 

Fall foods are usually considered more hearty and comforting. However, there is nobody saying that you can’t enjoy a good salad in the Fall and still feel warm and full. I was looking for something that would check off all the boxes: healthy, salad, filling, hearty, full of Fall goodness, so I came up with this beauty of a dish. My husband loved it. I loved it. It definitely hit the spot.

I’ve put approximate amounts in the list below. That’s one of the things that’s so great about a salad: you have so much free reign to make it how you like. Don’t want steak? Use chicken. Or no meat at all. Change the apple, add more cranberries.

You do you, boo.

Autumn Steak Salad

1 bag mixed greens (or lettuce/greens of your choice)

1 sweet potato, cubed

Olive oil

Ground cinnamon

1 apple, diced (I used a Fuji)

½ cup dried cranberries (or more if you’d like)

½ cup chopped walnuts (or more if you’d like)

Goat cheese, crumbled

Steak cut of your choice (I used a 15oz rib eye I found at Trader Joe’s)

Maple Dijon Apple vinaigrette

Salt and pepper

Fresh sage, about 1 tablespoon, minced

Place your cubed sweet potato on a baking sheet and coat with some olive oil, salt, and cinnamon, just a sprinkle or so will be fine. Roast in a 425 degree oven for 20 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside to cool.

While the potatoes are roasting, season your steak with salt and pepper. Cook in a skillet over medium heat (I used my cast iron) until cooked to your preferred doneness. Remove and let set for about 5-10 minutes. Slice thinly.

Mix together the vinaigrette by combining equal parts olive oil and apple cider vinegar, a tablespoon of Dijon mustard, and ½ tablespoon of maple syrup and whisk together.

Assemble the salad: In a big bowl, add the greens, apple, cranberries, walnuts, sage, goat cheese, cooled sweet potatoes, and steak slices. Drizzle with dressing and toss to combine.

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Corn and Poblano Summer Salad

I was not going to post about this. It was supposed to be an afterthought to the amazing ribs my husband and I were smoking all day. We just needed a quick side dish. No big deal. 

It was a big deal. It turned out so good I just had to make a post about it! This salad will no doubt become my go-to summer side dish. It can be served cold or at room temp. Also, since it isn’t a mayonnaise-based salad, it lends itself really well to BBQ buffets because it can sit out for longer periods of time.

And the best part? It is SO EASY! 

Corn and Poblano Summer Salad 

1 bag frozen corn

2 Poblano peppers 

1 medium avocado 

Handful of cherry tomatoes 

1 lime

3 T olive oil 

Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the corn according to package directions, usually in the microwave. You can use fresh corn too if you want, just grill them and cut it off the cob. I just find the frozen much easier and the taste is still great.

After the corn is cooked, add it to a dry skillet over high heat. The goal here is to just char it up a little bit. Set aside to cool. I put it in the fridge to bring the temperature down to warm/room temp. I prepped the rest of the salad in the meantime.

Put the Poblanos over the flame on your stove, turning until charred on all sides.


When done, put the peppers in a plastic bag and seal. Let them steam for about 10-15 minutes. 


Remove from the bag and the skin will just wipe off with a paper towel. Open up the peppers and remove the stem and the seeds. Dice the pepper.

In a bowl, add diced avocado, halved cherry tomatoes, diced pepper, and cooled corn.

In a small bowl, mix your dressing which is just the zest and juice of 1 lime, olive oil, a dash of pepper and 1t salt. Whisk together with a fork and pour over the veggies. Careful toss the veggies to coat. Add a little more salt if necessary.


That’s it! So easy and so much flavor! It was the perfect side!

Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad

I always have the best of intentions when it comes to meal planning. It rarely actually works out for me, but still I try. Recently, my husband I got some of those bento-style boxes to make up some healthy lunches to take with us in the morning. The idea would be that we already have a healthy lunch ready to go, so it saves time in the morning and we would be less likely to go out somewhere. 

The best laid plans, amiright?

It didn’t really work. I think the problem is we made too many meals ahead of time, so by the time we got about half way through, the lunches we made weren’t very good anymore, we were bored with the same thing every day, and the main portion of the lunch was a chicken breast which always ended up really dried out after reheating. I had to go back to the drawing board. I think I successfully came up with some other options besides just plain ol’ chicken and rice, and I also think that making them in smaller batches is going to be the key to less food waste and fatigue.

My first idea was this chicken salad. You don’t have to reheat it, so that solves the dried meat problem. I also only made a few days’ worth, so we shouldn’t get too sick of it and we won’t have to throw any of it away. Served with some whole grain crackers and a lite Baby Bell cheese circle and I think I’ve got a solid lunch option on my hands.

I suggest making this at least a couple hours before you plan on eating it so the flavors have a chance to really come together.

Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad

4 cups cooked chicken (you can use whatever cooked chicken you want. I put 3 chicken breasts in my Instant Pot with some chicken broth, salt, dried thyme, and Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute and they were ready to go in no time.)

1 cup finely chopped carrots

2 stalks celery, finely chopped

1 cup quartered grapes, red or green your preference

1 cup chopped apple, whatever kind you want

Handful of slivered almonds

1-1/2 cups plain non-fat Greek yogurt

Juice from half a lemon

Salt and pepper to taste

Keep in mind that none of these ingredients are set in stone. This is just how I make a basic chicken salad. If you don’t like carrots? Don’t add them. Think carrots are the greatest thing in world? Add more! You can put any seasoning you want. You can swap out the almonds for something else. Or remove them altogether. This would also be really good with dried cranberries (not to mention how pretty it would look with that pop of red color!). If you think Greek yogurt is a bit too tangy, you can take some of it out and substitute nonfat mayo or sour cream. If I had some green onions, I would add those too.  

 

Speaking of Greek yogurt, I would start on the lesser end and stir it in in small amounts until it reaches the level of creaminess you like.


This recipe makes A LOT of chicken salad, so it would be good for a party or picnic. The Super Bowl is coming up; you could serve this along with some whole grain crackers as a healthy alternative to the rest of the stuff on the food table.

Rita’s Tricolor Pasta Salad

Don’t you just love hand-me-down recipes? Whether it’s from a friend or family member, there’s always something so special about a recipe that someone else has shared with you. This pasta salad is one of those. I got it from my mom who got it from her friend Rita, and it is always a big hit at any party or BBQ.

This salad is great for a few reasons: 1. It is super easy to put together. We are talking very minimal effort here, you guys; 2. It is really pretty to look at. Look at those colors!; 3. It is very customizable to your particular likings. Rita’s version called for raw purple onions and black olives. I don’t like either one, so I leave them out; and 4. It is great for outdoor gatherings because it isn’t a mayo-based dressing. Those tend to get a little sketchy in the sun, right?

I also like to pretend it’s healthy because you use veggies and veggie pasta. 😊

This salad is best when you make it the day before because all the flavors get a chance to party together and get all yummy. But it is also so easy that if you decide, say, a couple hours before that you want to make this dish, that isn’t a problem at all.

Rita’s Tricolor Pasta Salad

1 pound package of tricolor rotini

½ pound of sliced dry salami

1 medium tomato

1 medium cucumber

Shredded parmesan cheese (however much you want. I used about a cup.)

1 bottle of Italian dressing

Cook the pasta according to package directions. When finished, drain and put into a big bowl. Set in the fridge to cool.

Meanwhile, dice the tomato, cucumber, and salami. Set aside.

When the pasta is cooled, add in the salami, tomato, cucumber and cheese. Top with the Italian dressing. I always start with about half the bottle and then taste it to see if I want more or not. I usually end up using almost ¾ of the bottle.

Mix everything together. Let it sit in the fridge for at least an hour before serving.

Spinach and Bacon Salad 

My relationship with salad has become stagnant. Boring. Dullsville. I have been relying on my standby of plain ol’ “side” salad for too long. That’s not to say I don’t still like the old classic: crunchy iceburg lettuce, juicy tomatoes, crisp cucumbers, maybe a little cheddar and diced avocado for a little treat, all joined together by everyone’s favorite, Ranch dressing. 

Sure, that little salad has gotten my through life so far, but we’ve reached a plateau. It’s about time I upped my salad game, dear readers, and this simple little dish is just what I was looking for. 

I wouldn’t say that I like spinach. I don’t dislike it by any means, but it’s not my favorite. If it is cooked in something (like a dip or those spinach tortillas or made into noodles), I’m all about it, but raw spinach? Eh, I could take it or leave it. 

My husband loves spinach. I make him salads a lot to eat for lunch throughout the week and they are always spinach-based because spinach is really so good for you. It is high in folate, vitamins, iron, dietary fibers… I could go on. That all being said, when it came time to see what kind of salad-trouble I can get into, I started with a simple google search: Spinach Salad. 

There are soooooo many combinations out there! They all look really good too! I found a few recipes that look really good and I can’t wait to try. The best part is they are all so simple. Only a few ingredients and a dressing and you’ve got yourself a healthy salad. I figure you could serve any of them as a side dish or even a main meal, if you wanted. 

This warm spinach salad is the most common one I found, with lots of different recipes for it. The first recipe I came across was from Alton Brown, so I knew it would be good. I was right, it was delicious. And calling “warm” is a bit misleading. The dressing is warm, but the salad was more room temperature. 

Heed my warning, though, and don’t make the same mistake I did. This makes a lot of salad. I broke the cardinal rule of all salad-making and I dressed the whole thing right away, even though I knew we weren’t going to finish it that night. The next day, the texture was way off and it was just not good. I mean the flavor was still there and the rest of the components were yummy, but the spinach itself did not hold up. So, unless you are planning on finishing the whole thing, just dress individual portions. Or make less. 

Alton Brown’s Warm Spinach Salad 

8oz package of baby spinach

8 strips of bacon, diced

2 eggs, hardboiled and sliced

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon sugar

½ teaspoon Dijon mustard

Salt and pepper

*walnuts

**4 large white mushrooms, sliced

**3 ounced red onion, thinly sliced 

*This was my own addition and it was delicious 

**Note: I do not like mushrooms, so I didn’t include them. I didn’t include the onion either because forgot to pick one up from the store and I didn’t want to go back just for one thing. You understand.** 

Wash and dry the spinach. Put into a large bowl with the walnuts, egg, mushrooms, and onion. Set aside. 

In a pan, fry the bacon, remove from the pan and dab with a paper towel. Add to the spinach.

  

Reserve 3 tablespoons of the bacon grease in the pan. You can get rid of the rest. To the grease, add the red wine vinegar, sugar, mustard, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Wisk over low heat until well combined.
  

Pour the dressing on the salad and toss.

Serve as an entree or side.

 

Chinese Chicken Salad 

There’s this little café in my office building that makes pretty decent food for relatively cheap. Plus, it’s really convenient. 

I usually only get the same few things there, but recently I had their Chinese Chicken Salad. You guys! It was really, really good! I already like Chinese Chicken Salad, but I’ve had it where it was just sort of blah. This was not blah! It was delicious!

 

I wanted to try to recreate it at home, but I sort of opted against a direct recreation. Being the junk food lover that I am, the fact that I view a salad as a treat is a good thing. I think I’ll leave this particular recipe to the pros.

 

I did end up creating my own version of a Chinese chicken salad using my leftover teriyaki chicken. It may not be quite as good as the one from the café, but it was still quite tasty, if I do say so myself.

 

This is what I put in mine, but feel free to riff on your own with what you like: 

Lettuce

Carrots

cucumbers

Prepared teriyaki chicken

Sliced water chestnuts

Mandarin orange segments (from the can)

Fried wonton wrapper, cut in slices (or I think you can buy them in the produce section already crispy)

Chinese chicken salad dressing*

Other optional ingredients that would be good: sesame seeds, sliced almonds, green onion, baby corn, bell peppers, crunchy chow mein noodles (those are soooo good! I could eat the whole package by itself!)

 

*I used Joey D’s brand. My friend at work uses Soy Vay. The café using a sesame ginger dressing, which I’ve also seen in various brands at the store.  

Perfect use for my leftovers!


 

Mix everything together and enjoy! 

Strawberry Balsamic Dressing 

Sometimes I think this recipe came out of thin air. I made a salad but I had no dressing in the house. I usually do, but this time I didn’t. Lately I’ve been making this ranch dressing, which is delicious, but I didn’t have it or the ingredients to make it. Luckily, I had what I needed for this dressing. It only has three ingredients and it is really yummy!

Vinaigrettes (a mixture of vinegar and oil with seasonings) come from the French word for Vinegar (obviously), but they are a pretty universal staple in most kitchens. They are most often used as a dressing, but can be a marinade as well. Generally speaking, the ratio is 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar, but I didn’t do that since I just sort of tossed everything into the blender until it looked good. And since I didn’t follow the vinaigrette rules, I’ll just call mine a dressing.

Traditionally, vinaigrettes are pretty basic: vinegar, oil, salt and pepper. In the US, we tend to add a lot of additions, like truffles, berries, garlic, blue cheese, etc. Seems pretty typical of the US, but also pretty yummy!

Strawberry Balsamic Dressing

1-1/2 cups chopped strawberries
3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

Put all ingredients in a blender and mix until well combined.