Warm Fall Harvest Salad Dressed in a Light Balsamic Vinaigrette

This is fall in salad form.  I have neglected salads for the past few months because since fall hit, I have been all about warm soups, breads, and sandwiches.  I basically ate a salad every day of the summer, but that’s not what I’ve been craving lately.  So, I decided to make a salad that would epitomize fall in all its glory and put me in the mood for salad in November.  
Boy was I successful!  Roasted butternut squash, brussels sprouts, and chickpeas provide heat that helps wilt the kale and arugula so the entire salad becomes warm and comforting.  The nutty flavor of quinoa pulls together the earthy flavors of the roasted veggies, peppery arugula, and tart kale.  I topped it with apples to add a touch of sweetness and crunch, as well as diced avocado which adds creaminess. Dried cranberries were necessary because, please, this is fall!  Everything is tossed in a light citrus balsamic vinaigrette that really makes this a mouthwatering seasonal salad that is sure to put a smile on anyone’s face!

Just the amount of vegetables alone in this salad makes me happy.  The more, the merrier!  I also love the different textures and flavors that are created by combining both raw and roasted fruits and vegetables. The leafy greens are somewhere in between raw and cooked, as they are wilted from mixing the hot vegetables in right out of the oven.  Both raw and cooked veggies are delicious!
I paired this delicious salad with a nice cold glass of apple cider.  It was the perfect pick-me-up meal mid day on a Monday.  Later yesterday afternoon, I made my favorite summer afternoon snack: a peanut butter chocolate chip smoothie.  While this salad screams fall, it was reminiscent of summer which is probably why I wanted a smoothie.  Although I was pretty chilly after eating a frozen smoothie, I was pleased with my decision to make a warm fall harvest salad and relive a little summer.  
  
Warm Fall Harvest Salad
vegan, gluten free, dairy free (makes 4-6 servings)
For the salad:
2 cups brussels sprouts, cut in half
2 cups diced butternut squash
1 medium onion, diced
olive oil
salt and pepper
2 cups kale, deveined and chopped
2 cups baby arugula
2 cups mixed spring greens
1 cup chickpeas
1 cup cooked quinoa
1 avocado, diced
1 apple, diced (if not using an organic variety, peel as well)
1/2 cup dried unsweetened cranberries
For the dressing:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp orange zest
1 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper, to taste
Directions:
1.  Preheat oven to 375 F.  Add brussels sprouts, squash, and onions to a baking pan.  Drizzle with olive oil until coated, and sprinkle a good amount of salt and pepper on top.  Mix together, then put in the oven to roast for 35-40 minutes.  Stir every 10 minutes.
2. To prepare the dressing, whisk all dressing ingredients together until combined.  
3.  In a large bowl, add kale, arugula, and mixed spring greens.  Add roasted sprouts, squash, and onions right out of the oven on top of the greens.  Then layer the quinoa, chickpeas, apples, avocado, and cranberries.  Pour the dressing on top and toss thoroughly.  Serve while warm.    
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