Once upon a time, Mom would chop up a head of iceberg, throw on some mayo and call it a salad. Maybe toss in a chopped tomato for a special occasion. Salad was always a bridesmaid, never a bride. Seen, but not heard. In the chorus, not the star. You get the idea - boring!
Thank goodness salads have come into their own to shine in supporting roles or take center stage. Every part of your fall/winter holiday gatherings should be special, including the salads. These options are great for a Thanksgiving or Christmas feast or for a fall day when you just want to have a great salad! Have fun with colors, textures and flavors for endless possibilities. Check out these salad suggestions from bloggers we love:
"Add lots of textures, colors, and a vibrant, flavorful dressing to bring it all together. If every bite is a combination of something different, yet consistent, it makes the whole salad new and exciting with every bite."
"I keep salads from getting boring by focusing on flavorful ingredients and trying new things."
"The key to making great salads is variety— different textures, different flavors. To make any salad more interesting consider adding toasted nuts, seeds, fresh herbs, fruit or using unconventional greens or grains as a base instead of greens."
"I love to add fruits, veggies and nuts to our salads to make sure they never get boring. Sometimes adding ditalini pasta or bowtie pasta can make a salad exciting. My kids love when I add in a nice crumbling cheese such as feta, gorgonzola, or even goat cheese crumbles. The possibilities are endless with salads, just head to the produce section of your favorite grocery store and have fun!"
"The key to any great salad is balance. Balance of salt, sweet, sour, and bitter in both salad ingredients and a homemade vinaigrette, as well as balance in textures!"
"The key is variety -- adding different textures, lots of color, and plenty of protein. That way each bite has tons of flavor and you're left feeling satisfied!"
Equally comfortable at a big holiday gathering or an everyday family meal, this make-ahead salad has plenty of veggie crunch and just enough bacon-y goodness to please your family’s food pyramid. And, true to her name, Adventures of Mel includes fun variations to dress up this salad with added ingredients or lighten it up with a vinaigrette dressing.
When Thanksgiving is but a memory and you want to try something new and different with the leftovers in the fridge, here’s a colorful, clean main dish salad that will have you thankful for lighter fare. Candied pecans, sweetened with pure maple syrup, provide a sweet crunch that makes this salad special. Thank goodness Lacey’s daughter was willing to share her pomegranate - or this creation from A Sweet Pea Chef might never have happened!
Start with a Caesar salad kit from the produce department, and this salad practically makes itself! Momstart suggests a few small additions that keep it far from ordinary. Kale stems, sweet mini peppers and crumbled bacon (now we’re talking!) give you lots of flavor cred with little effort.
Another healthy salad option from Momstart, Lean and Green meals contain vegetables, lean protein and healthy fats. Inspired by the classic Caprese salad, this can be a meal in itself. Take it to a pot luck and be ready for recipe requests!
Make salad interesting by giving it the spotlight - warm main dish salads can be just as hearty as a carb-laden casserole, but with good fuel to energize rather than bog you down. Cooking with Amy begins with a cooked grain, then adds seasonal fruits and vegetables. Bonus ingredients like pomegranate seeds and crumbled feta make it special.
Add vibrant color to a “green” salad with crunchy radicchio. Combine it with Napa cabbage for a pretty and pretty tasty combination. Cooking with Amy adds the unexpected with grapefruit and candied pecans. The tart-sweet combo is intriguing with complex pleasing textures.
Fruit salads are always a hit for holiday meals. Fresh fruits are best, but not always readily available during winter, so this festive recipe from Deep South Dish provides options to use high quality canned fruits, too. Feel free to substitute your favorites if you like. The custard sauce is worthy of a special occasion.
This salad can be different every time you make it! Deep South Dish suggests starting with your favorite mix of lettuces and baby greens, then adding fruit - chopped apple, mandarin oranges, pineapple, grapes, strawberries and more. Your choice of dried fruit, chopped veggies, nuts, seeds and proteins make this salad flourish with texture and color.
If opposites attract, then this salad overflows with love. Peppery arugula pops with sweet maple vinaigrette. To make it even more interesting, slightly bitter radicchio gets the maple syrup treatment. Cooking Chat like to add some cheese and some crunch to his salads. This one is garnished with feta and toasted pumpkin seeds.
This is the whole meal deal! The pasta dish is a hearty bonus, but you can make the Rainbow Salad again and again as a light meal in itself. Cooking with Divian artfully arranges classic fall ingredients like cranberries, apples, pecans and raisins on a bed of fresh greens for a beautiful and tasty presentation.
15 minutes is all you need to make this beautiful fall salad. A Beautiful Plate
balances sweet, salt, acid and bitter tastes in her recipes, resulting in complex flavors that please the palate. Pear, radicchio, endive, walnuts, gorgonzola and arugula are a winning combination of tastes and textures. Have fun playing with substitutions, and you’ll have a new recipe every time.
Thinly sliced raw Brussels Sprouts are the foundation of this fall salad from A Beautiful Plate. The thinner the better - quick work with your food processor. Honeycrisp apples and walnuts make the salad all about fall. There’s even walnut oil in the dressing! Up your cheese game and top it off with handmade Parmesan-Pecorino crisps.
Fall is all about squash, and turmeric roasted butternut squash makes this salad from Ambitious Kitchen memorable. It adds the color of fall leaves to the bright green bed of kale (or baby spinach, if you prefer). Pomegranate, toasted almonds and goat cheese add bursts of flavor and texture.
Created for Thanksgiving, you won’t want to limit yourself to enjoying this salad one day a year. Ambitious Kitchen has created a sweet and savory blend of flavors with fall’s bounty of Brussels Sprouts, cranberries and apples. Gorgonzola and candied pecans take it over the top. You can prep this salad a day ahead to make your feast day less hectic.
Roasted and glazed d’Anjou pear slices create an impressive presentation on this seasonal salad from Dining with Debbie. The fanned pear slices are a pretty complement to the bed of salad greens. Fontina, pecans and grapes provide a pleasing array of textures. To carry the pear theme all the way, the dressing starts with pear-infused white balsamic vinegar.
With ham or bacon (or even a chicken breast), this salad is all you will need to make a satisfying seasonal meal. You can roast the pear ahead of time to streamline the final assembly process. Dining with Debbie has created an inventive combination of ingredients with vibrant color and a symphony of textures and flavors, including Stilton, walnuts, blueberries, beets and grapes. Maple syrup in the dressing is the essence of autumn.
Mel Lockcuff runs Adventures of Mel while caring for chickens, a cat, and her 3 children. She particularly loves her Instant Pot for quick family dinners, and her blog is dedicated not only to food but also to travel & outdoor adventures with her family.
Lacey Baier authors A Sweet Pea Chef while also caring for her three kids and developing her photography, fitness, and of course cooking skills. She is particularly enthusiastic about designing No-Fail meals that are quick, healthy, easy, cost-effective, and sure to please the whole family.
Beeb Ashcroft is Momstart's head writer and managing editor. As an experienced journalist, she enjoys covering travel, entertainment, recipes and quirky products. Beeb lives on the north Oregon coast and travels extensively for press trips and media events.
Amy Sherman authors Cooking with Amy. She is a San Francisco–based cookbook author, food writer and recipe developer. She offers original recipes, reviews, commentary, news and culinary travel information.
Mary Foreman is the founder of Deep South Dish where combines her love for cooking and writing. Her homestyle recipes evoke fond childhood memories of the foods her mother and grandmother used to make, and she finds solace in cooking the old-fashioned way, creating new memories with each recipe.
David Crowley authors Cooking Chat and shares tasty, healthy recipes, taking readers along for wine pairings and other food adventures. David likes to use ingredients that are in season and on sale, making good use of resources and fostering creativity. Most of his recipes inlude a wine tip.
Laura Davidson of A Beautiful Plate is a trained chef, food photographer, and recipe developer. She writes a seasonal food blog dedicated to simplifying the art of cooking. Her fresh, seasonally-inspired meals showcase quality ingredients in a unique, approachable, and artful way with recipes, cooking guides and how-to's.
Monique Volz authors Ambitious Kitchen, a health focused food blog with beautiful, creative recipes and feel good inspiration for active, healthy lifestyles. She likes to get creative with unique ingredients and pair different flavor combinations. She confesses to being an avid baker, too, trying delicious crazy desserts.
Debbie Arnold is the force behind Dining with Debbie where she shares her passion for food and cooking. She enjoys sharing her culinary creations with family and friends, creating crowd-pleasing recipes that spark memories and create new ones.
Divian Conner writes about food on Cooking with Divian sharing Southern, easy, sorta hard but always delicious recipes. This Mississippi mama tries her new recipes on her tweens and teens, creating family-friendly meals.