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Favorite Autumn Salad with Maple Vinaigrette

autumn salad with greens, apples, walnuts, chickpeas and goat cheese

This autumn salad with maple vinaigrette has so many layers of flavor, it’s hard to choose a favorite. The ingredients come together in a chorus of triumphant fall flavor that eases us into the season and blows away any lunchtime ruts. The salad is hearty and filling, thanks to high-protein chickpeas, toasted walnuts, and crumbled goat cheese. But the real star of the show might be the maple-apple cider vinaigrette. Can you think of anything more apt for early fall days, when the weather is just barely chilly? It’s not yet crisp enough for me to dive into pumpkin or warming soups, so this autumn salad with maple vinaigrette is the perfect way to enjoy the cozy flavors of early fall.

What’s in the maple vinaigrette

maple-cide dressing in a small bowl next to walnuts

When developing this recipe, I knew I wanted the dressing to be the star of the show. It had to include maple syrup, and to really lean into the fall vibes I decided to go with apple cider vinegar rather than a balsamic. Dijon mustard balances out the flavors and adds a nice creaminess to the dressing, as well. This maple vinaigrette (adapted from a similar one by Martha Stewart) comes together in a flash, and the recipe makes a little extra, too. The spare dressing is great to have on hand for other salads, or even to use to roast fall vegetables like brussels sprouts, butternut squash, or sweet potato.

What’s in the rest of the salad

The maple vinaigrette may be the star of this autumn salad, but the other ingredients are also worthy of supporting actor awards. This autumn salad with maple vinaigrette is vegetarian and still hearty, thanks to the addition of chickpeas, toasted walnuts, and goat cheese. Tangy green apples and sweet red onion add another dimension of flavor to the salad and complement the apple cider in the dressing perfectly. Here’s the full rundown:

  • Chickpeas and red onion in lemon juice. While you prepare the rest of the salad ingredients, you’ll let your chickpeas and red onion rest in a bowl with some lemon juice, salt, and pepper. This step is optional if you’re trying to make quick work of prepping this salad, but it adds so much flavor. I think of the chickpeas as standing in for meat in this vegetarian recipe, and I would always season my meat before using it in a salad.
  • Toasted walnuts. You can buy the walnuts already toasted/roasted or toast them dry in a pan yourself. A few minutes in the pan somehow makes a world of difference for flavor — I for one am never going back to raw walnuts!
  • Green apple. Diced green apple because I’m leaning in hard to the “autumn” part of this salad.
  • Goat cheese. I love the tang of the goat cheese in this recipe, but so many cheeses would work great here. Gorgonzola, sharp cheddar, manchego, the list goes on! Choose what works best for you.
  • Greens of choice. I went for mixed greens here, but baby kale or spinach would also be great.

If you make this recipe, please leave a comment and rating below! I would love to hear from you.

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Favorite Autumn Salad with Maple Vinaigrette

This autumn salad with maple vinaigrette is hearty and deeply flavorful. The recipe makes 3 salads, so consider a few lunches taken care of this week. 

  • Author: A Tavola Kitchen
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 3 salads 1x
  • Category: Lunch
  • Method: No Cook
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegetarian
Scale

Ingredients

For the dressing

  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar 
  • 2 tbsp dijon mustard 
  • 56 tsp maple syrup, to taste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

For the salad 

  • 1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 small red onion, chopped
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3/4 cup walnuts, toasted
  • 1 small green apple, diced
  • 45 cups salad greens
  • 3/4 cup crumbled goat cheese

Instructions

  1. Make the dressing: Combine extra virgin olive oil, apple cider vinegar, dijon mustard, and maple syrup in a small bowl. Whisk vigorously until creamy and emulsified and season to taste with salt and pepper. 
  2. Marinate the chickpeas and red onion: Combine chickpeas, red onion, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a medium-bowl. Set aside. 
  3. Toast your walnuts: If your walnuts are not already toasted, add them to a medium non-stick sauté pan and toast over medium heat for 5-10 minutes until brown and fragrant. Stir half way through to ensure even cooking. 
  4. Assemble your salads: Divide salad ingredients among 3 bowls or containers and dress to taste. If meal-prepping, do not dress until right before eating. 

Notes

  • You will probably have some leftover dressing. You can save the extra for another salad, or brush it on vegetables for roasting. 
  • Maple dressing inspired by Martha Stewart.

CategoriesLunch Vegetarian
  1. Natalie says:

    This is such a delicious salad! I made it as a dinner side and cannot wait to eat the leftovers for lunch tomorrow. I didn’t have a green apple, so I used a honeycrisp instead, and I swapped out the goat cheese for feta. This is a very hearty salad, and even my veggie-averse kids liked it. I will be adding it into my regular fall rotation!

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