This Seasonal Harvest Salad is truly the taste of fall! Made with hearty butternut squash, tart Pink Lady apple chunks, juicy grapes, sweet dried cranberries, and more, it's fresh, nutritious, and the perfect representation of all there is to love about this time of year.
About this Salad
This Seasonal Harvest Salad is one of my favorite fall salads! It surely captures the best seasonal flavors in each bite. With hearty butternut squash, tart Pink Lady apple chunks, juicy grapes, sweet dried cranberries, and more, it's fresh, nutritious, and the perfect representation of all there is to love about this time of year.
Make this Seasonal Harvest Salad to enjoy for lunch or dinner alongside a protein of your choice like chicken or steak. It's also an incredible Thanksgiving or holiday side dish. It'll taste great with the turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and roasted veggies also on your plate!
If this salad looks tasty to you, you'll also love the seasonal flavors in this Kale and Butternut Squash Salad, this Harvest Chicken Casserole, or this Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese.
- Apples: I used a Pink Lady apple for to add some tart flavor to this salad, and grapes. too!.
- Butternut Squash: Literally fall in a bite! Plus, this vegetable is also full of vitamins and nutrients to help fuel your body.
- Celery and Onion: Adds a great crunchy texture.
- Spinach: I chose this green for the base of this Seasonal Harvest Salad because it's lighter than romaine or kale. It allows the other ingredients to have their time in the spotlight while still providing great nutritional value.
- Cheese: I think a goat cheese tastes great here, especially a festive one. Try the Apricot, Cherry, and Cranberry Goat Cheese log from Trader Joe's. You won't regret it!
- Quinoa: This grain adds some fiber to this salad. It also helps absorb some of the moisture in this salad to keep it from getting soggy. (Who likes a soggy salad?) You could also use couscous if you wanted to switch things up. I don't recommend you use farro, however. Tried it, didn't like it!
- Pumpkin Seeds: I bet you didn't know that pumpkin seeds have decent protein content! They're also a good source of healthy fat. And they surely add great texture to salads too.
- Dressing: I made a simple homemade dressing for this salad that is a combination of olive oil, lemon juice, honey, apple cider vinegar, salt + pepper.
See the recipe card below for a full list of ingredients and measurements.
Substitutions and Customizations
If you don't like an ingredient in this salad, I have great news. You can surely switch it out with something you DO like or just omit it. Here are some of my favorite swaps:
- Grains: Try couscous, orzo, or even cauliflower rice if you want to keep this salad low carb. You could also use regular brown rice.
- Butternut Squash: Swap with sweet potato, acorn or delicata squash, or roasted carrots.
- Grapes: I recommend blackberries or blueberries.
- Spinach: You could surely use kale or mixed greens.
- Goat Cheese: Parmesan has a similar taste while feta has a similar texture.
- Dried Cranberries: You may like golden raisins here instead.
- Pumpkin Seeds: Swap in some slivered almonds, pine nuts, or sunflower seeds.
- Homemade Dressing: Use a store-bought vinaigrette for convenience, however the homemade dressing is *chefs kiss*.
How to Make This Recipe
1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Using a vegetable peeler, peel and dice butternut squash into ¼” cubes. Coat with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Then, roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally. When finished, let cool for 10-15 minutes.
2. While the squash roasts, prepare quinoa or desired grain according to package instructions. Once cooked, let cool for 10-15 minutes.
3. Start to chop the other ingredients while butternut squash and quinoa are cooking. Slice the apple, halve the grapes, chop the celery, and dice the onion, all into small pieces. You'll want to get little pieces in each bite of your salad for optimal taste.
4. Then we'll assemble the salad. Start with the spinach base.
5. Then, add the quinoa.
6. Add onion and quinoa.
7. Add fruit next; the apples and sliced grapes.
8. Then, add pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries, and cheese. Note: I add the ingredients in the order I do for visual purposes. If you add the cheese, pumpkin seeds, and cranberries first, they'll get hidden by the other ingredients. If you plan to toss your salad before serving, it doesn't matter the order you assemble in.
9. In a measuring cup, combine dressing ingredients and whisk until fully integrated. Drizzle over salad and toss. P.S. - If homemade dressings aren't your thing, I recommend Ken's Sweet White Vidalia Onion dressing or Panera's Fuji Apple and Poppyseed dressing. They're both super tasty and would also work great with this salad!
10. Refrigerate 30 minutes prior to serving. This will help the ingredients absorb the dressing and make this salad super flavorful. Then, enjoy!
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, however it is best served fresh. Keep the dressing off of the salad if you plan to save to eat at a later date.
I highly recommend letting your cooked ingredients cool before assembling. If they are warm, the spinach will wilt and you'll end up with a soggy salad base. If you know you'll be short on time, I highly recommend cooking these ingredients in advance so they're ready for assembly when you need them.
Even though some of the ingredients are cooked, this salad is meant to be served cold. Serving warm will result in soggy produce.
Gluten free, you're already there! It's gluten free as is. To make dairy free, you'll need to omit the cheese or use a dairy-free substitute. To make vegan, you'll also want to substitute the honey in the dressing with maple syrup or agave.
More Recipes You'll Love
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Seasonal Harvest Salad
- Serving bowl
- Baking sheet
- serving spoon
- Chef's Knife
- Cutting Board
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Vegetable peeler
- 1 ⅓ cup quinoa
- 1 Pink Lady apple
- 1 cup butternut squash
- 1 cup holiday grapes, halved
- ½ cup red onion, diced
- 3 cups spinach
- ½ cup celery, diced
- ½ cup goat cheese, crumbled
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
- ¼ cup raw pumpkin seeds
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- pinch salt + pepper
- In a sauce pan, cook the quinoa according to package intructions. Once completed cooking, let cool for 10-15 minutes.
- Peel and dice a butternut squash. Coat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and some salt and pepper. Roast in the oven at 425°F F for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once completed cooking, let squash cook for 10-15 minutes.
- While the grain & roasted butternut squash is cooking, get to chopping. Slice the apple, halve the grapes, chop the celery, and dice the onion.
- Add spinach to large salad bowl.
- Top with quinoa, butternut squash, onions, apples, grapes, pumpkin seeds, cranberries, and cheese.
- In a measuring cup, combine all dressing ingredients together. Whisk for 20-30 seconds until fully integrated. Drizzle over salad and toss together.
- Refrigerate for 30 minutes prior to serving. This allows the all of the ingredients to absorb the dressing. It makes it super flavorful!! Enjoy!
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I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. It’s my passion to create dishes that can be shared with others. Tell me something you loved or just say hi!
I made this for lunch this week and it was so yummy that even after 4 days it didn’t get “old”. The mixture of goat cheese, butternut squash, grapes, and apples were my favorite part. I also added some turkey tenderloin on top of mine for some more protein!
I made this salad for this year’s Thanksgiving dinner and it was the perfect addition to our spread! My family loved the fruit melody and yummy goat cheese😋
Courtney Paige says
The goat cheese & fruit combo is fabulous! Thanks for sharing 🙂
Sounds so good! Will be making this next week.
Elizabeth Bulat says
Made this for Thanksgiving and it was absolutely amazing…my family and I were obsessed! Definitely will be a household staple going forward🤩
Made this for Thanksgiving dinner for my family that does not like salad - it got rave reviews! I’m planning on making it again for myself with chicken added for lunches this week. Delish!
Courtney Paige says
Enjoy & thank you for the review 😉
This salad was really, really good. I doubled the recipe and brought it to thanksgiving dinner. Everyone loved it and I shared the recipe. The rest lasted several days afterwards as my lunch.
Courtney Paige says
Love to hear it, Lee!
Jessica Little says
So yummy! A great blend of sweet and savory! I’ll be eating the leftovers for the next couple of lunches, and I am so happy about it!
Courtney Paige says
Love to hear this, Jessica!
My family loved this so much at Thanksgiving that I am going to make it for Christmas too!
Question, can the squash be prepared/stored in the fridge overnight before throwing it in the salad or would you recommend warming it? Or just trying to do it in "real time" ....timing is going to be an issue this go-around. TIA!
Sydney Van Acker says
SO much flavor and texture in every bite. Made it for thanksgiving and going to make for Christmas, too!
Courtney Paige says
I make this for Thanksgiving ever year; it has every fall flavor! Can't beat it.