Autumn is my most favorite season of all. Chunky sweaters and boots replace denim shorts and bierks, warm spiced teas exchange hands with cold brew, and fall produce rich in winter squash, pears, apples, and sweet potatoes-show up in heaps at the local green market. I love the crisp air, fall foliage, and the tinglings of new beginnings.
The start of a new season is always a chance to reflect on the one just passed-to try and rid yourself of any pesty bad habits and start integrating new routines which have the optimal effect on total wellness, inside and out. Fall offers the opportunity to refresh yourself, to try a new workout, to tweak your eating habits, and to make a small sustainable change that will take your health and wellness to a more advantageous level.
Fall can be fickle. Mornings can initiate with a crisp chill and lead pleasantly to warmth and radiance in the afternoon. This hearty salad is the perfect balance to tip toe into fall while still maintaining the light and brightness of the past season.
Autumn Salad with Roasted Squash, Cranberries, and Spicy Sunflower Seeds
- 1 small acorn squash- cut in half, seeds scooped, sliced width-wise to create half moons
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 375. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper. Coat squash with coconut oil, maple syrup, and black pepper in a bowl. Spread squash slices out on sheet pans and roast until golden and caramelized, around 45 minutes.
Spicy Sunflower Seeds
- 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 tbsp harissa spice blend or 1/4 tsp smoked paprika, 1/4 tsp chili powder, 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
- 1 tsp maple syrup
Mix together coconut oil, harissa, and maple syrup in a bowl. Toss seeds in oil and spice mixture to evenly coat. Turn down oven to 350. Using one of the same sheet pans from the squash, spread seeds out evenly. Roast for 10 minutes, tossing with a wooden spoon half way through cooking. (This will likely produce more spiced seeds then you need for the salad. You will not be mad to have leftovers.)
Lemon Poppy Seed Dressing
- 1 tbsp poppy seeds
- Juice of 2 lemons or 1/4 cup
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
Whisk all ingredients together, taste, adjusted if needed.
- 4 cups mixed seasonal greens (I used mizuna, arugula, red mustard)
- 1/4 cup apple juice sweetened dried cranberries
- 4 oz truffled semi soft cheese crumbled- I prefer Sottocenere, an ash rind cow's milk cheese from Italy flecked with truffles (optional)
Toss salad greens with 3/4 of the lemon poppy seed dressing. Arrange sliced squash over greens. Scatter the cranberries, sunflower seeds, and cheese over greens and squash. Top with the remaining dressing.