Loaded Fall Harvest Salad with Balsamic Dressing combines lettuce greens with bacon, candied walnuts, goat cheese, red onion, honey crisp apple slices with a delicious balsamic dressing. The perfect fall salad with bursts of flavor in every single bite!
What does Fall Harvest mean to you? In Iowa (where I spent my childhood), fall harvest is the process of removing the crops that were planted in the spring or summertime for consumption. It is a labor intensive time, and farmers work overtime to get the corn and soybeans out of the fields before winter sets in.
In the realm of food blogging, fall harvest means fresh greens with a combination of fall flavors. To me, apples play a huge part of this because they are best in the fall. Oh how I miss apple picking! Using candied nuts are also a key component because they remind me of cooler weather and hearty salads.
Ingredients needed for Loaded Fall Harvest Salad with Balsamic Dressing:
- Lettuce Greens – For this salad, I used half kale and half red lettuce. These go great together and add more interest to an already delicious salad. Don’t forget to MASSAGE the kale!
- Red Onion – You must add onion to your salads. Red onion and green onions are my favs!
- Bacon – The saltiness from cooked bacon adds great flavor. A little bit goes a long way.
- Goat Cheese – One of my favorite types of cheese, and it adds creaminess to every bite.
- Candied Walnuts – Follow my recipe for the BEST Candied Walnuts and just keep them in the freezer. They are great on this salad and just for munching on too.
- Honey Crisp Apples – Slice your apples thin, and add some fresh lemon juice to prevent them from turning brown. #favfallapples
- Balsamic Dressing – This dressing is the perfect topper. Just a simple combo of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Dijon dressing, honey, onion powder, salt, and pepper.
How to make the best Fall Harvest Salad:
- Prepare lettuce. Choose some fresh lettuce for this salad (avoid those bags!) and tear it in bite sized pieces. For kale, you’ll need to drizzle with some olive oil and a pinch of salt, and massage. You’ll see the kale go from pale to a bright beautiful green color. This makes the kale tender to eat too. You can use any type of lettuce you like, but a combo makes it so good!
2. Prepare apples. Thinly slice the honey crisp apples and then toss with some fresh lemon juice to prevent browning. You can also use a different type of apple, if preferred.
3. Make candied walnuts. Follow my recipe for the BEST Candied Walnuts. These are lightly sweetened and make a perfect salad topper. I make a batch and keep them in the freezer. You could also just use toasted walnuts (or another type of nut), but using the candied version spells FALL. 😀
4. Cook bacon. You can cook the bacon in a variety of methods. I like to keep the “microwave ready” bacon in my refrigerator because it’s so easy. However, I often bake the bacon in my oven and keep a stash in the freezer. Just make sure you get it nice and crispy.
5. Make dressing. Combine the following ingredients in a mason jar – olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Dijon dressing, honey, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Shake vigorously.
Possible variations to this recipe:
- Use whatever salad greens you like best. I love using a combo of a couple different types.
- Instead of honey crisp apples, feel free to try another kind. We also love fuji and pink lady as alternatives.
- If you don’t want to use candied walnuts, you could use regular toasted walnuts or other type of nut.
Loaded Fall Harvest Salad with Balsamic Dressing
For the salad:
- 8 cups red lettuce
- 8 cups kale
- 2 medium honeycrisp apples – sliced thin
- 1/2 large lemon – freshly squeezed
- 1/3 cup red onion – sliced thin
- 4 slices bacon – cooked and crumbled
- 4 oz. goat cheese – crumbled
- 1 1/2 cup candied walnuts – see recipe on blog (or use toasted walnuts)
For the dressing:
- 2/3 cup olive oil
- 3 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon dijon mustard
- 1 Tablespoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper – to taste
- Make the candied walnuts according to my recipe. If you'd rather, you can toast some walnuts instead.
- Cook the bacon according to your desired method. Crumble.
- Slice apples into thin slices. Squeeze lemon over them to ensure they don't brown.
- Make dressing. In a mason jar, combine olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, honey, onion powder, salt, and pepper.
- Arrange salad ingredients in a large bowl – the salad greens (Massage the kale!), red onion, goat cheese, crumbled bacon, candied walnuts, and apple slices. Serve with the prepared balsamic dressing.