Healthy Harvest Salad

I was first introduced to Harvest Salad at a friend’s house and immediately took to the crunch of pears and apples combined with the crisp lettuce, the chewy dried cranberries and the lovely dressing…I’ve since “remade” not only the salad but the recipe here in my home and in doing so, made it not only a bit healthier but also the most decadent Harvest Salad you’re ever likely to eat.

Healthy Harvest Salad
Healthy Harvest Salad

While I applaud anyone eating ANY salad and teaching their kids to do so, there are a few things I think about when I make one.

  • Plain salads are boring – salads can be used to entice your loved ones to eat healthy nuts, grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables.
  • While lettuce is very low in calories, a recognized serving is only about a cup, which equals about an ounce. Comparing to almost any other vegetables, that’s a tiny serving.
  • Dressings can be killers – often full of sugar, corn syrup, additives, bad fats (even if they do say no trans fat, it’s likely that non reportable trans fats are in them.)  Home made dressings are a wonderful way to use the healthy fats with Omega 3 fatty acids, especially Olive Oil.

This is a devious salad – a salad with lettuce, yes, but also with a wonderful (but simple) home-made dressing, a serving of nuts and a serving of fruits per person…plus, I don’t have to say, “You’re gonna eat it and you’re gonna like it!” because everyone I’ve ever served this salad to does.

The result is the most decadent, lovely “Harvest Salad” at a surprisingly budget price! When I served this to friends, they took one look and said, “Fancy!” I didn’t bother to say “Healthy.” I just smiled.

Harvest Salad

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 15 min
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 2 cups of Romaine (or other dark lettuce) chopped or torn into bite sized pieces
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 pear, very thinly sliced
  • 1 apple cut into small chunks
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of dried cherries, roughly sliced in half
  • 2 ounces of pecans, or about 1/2 cup of whole, 1/4 cup chopped

Mix all ingredients and then dress with about 2 to 3 tablespoons of Harvest Dressing. If preparing ahead, toss the cut pears and apples in a little dressing (or lemon juice) to preserve their color.

If you’d like, toast the pecans in a medium hot skillet, tossing frequently, until they begin to give off an aroma.

Harvest Dressing, makes about 1 1/2 cups, cut in 1/4 if you wish to make a smaller amount. Cost for the full amount, about $1.13, but to dress the salad, about 10 cents.

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tablespoons Dijon
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 cup Olive Oil

Combine ingredients and shake vigorously in a lidded jar. Store in the refrigerator door (where the olive oil is less likely to harden.)

Harvest Dressing will keep for weeks/months but it the olive oil hardens in the fridge, bring up to room temperature before using. Simply place on the counter while preparing dinner or place in the microwave for several seconds.

Let’s talk about how to save money/time on this recipe:

  • Use a coupon matching site! One of my favorites in my area is Pocket Your Dollars, but every store has a group of enthusiastic Coupon Matchers. Do not discount the savings! I check their site every week, even if I don’t “need” to go to the store and often find bargains I can’t pass up.
  • Follow my 12 Strategies – You’ll see them on the upper drop down menu of every page and how I apply them, below.
  • Don’t get discouraged if your prices don’t match mine! Keep shopping at the best prices and your fridge/freezer and pantry will be stocked with sales priced ingredients.
  • Read below for additional tips as well as throughout the recipe, for saving time and managing food.

Strategies Applied:

To save time, I made a larger quantity of the dressing – to dress only one salad, divide the measurements by 1/4.

  • Romaine: Lettuces routinely go on sale in my store, one week it’s iceberg, the next red, the next Romaine. If Romaine isn’t at a great price, wait till it is or substitute one of the other gorgeous lettuce varieties that are on sale. This same salad is lovely with Spinach, too, although I certainly wouldn’t use Bibb or iceberg. My Romaine was 99 cents a pound, 2 cups is about 12 cents.
  • In general, I to avoid the bagged varieties, which can cost up to four times the amount of heads or loose lettuces – $2.50 for a 10 ounce bag on sale is about $4.00 a pound. See Saving on Basic Ingredients, Vegetables and Fruits for more information. Besides, isn’t there something a bit weird about a product that can sit in your fridge for weeks and not decay…yet when opened, often reeks.
  • Apple:  Look for apples in the fall at the best price, and watch for them in January and February to a lower cost. In January, the apples in the cold storage need to be sold off quickly, and there is a glut of apples coming out of gassed storage. Bought at 99 cents a pound, an apple is about 5 1/2 ounces. Cost: 34 cents.
  • Pears:  Look for them on sale in the fall and early winter – their season is from September until about April or May.  In Minnesota, they’ll generally drop down to about 89/99 cents a pound.  Each is around 7 ounces, so the cost for this recipe is 40 cents.
  • Pecans:  I try to stock up on nuts around Christmas and I seem to find the lowest prices at our local hardware/feed store. Aldi’s sometimes has great prices. It doesn’t hurt to compare the bulk bin prices to the bagged ones in the cooking aisle. I paid $1.99 for about 8 ounces and used two – cost 50 cents.
  • I used to disregard nuts as a high priced, high calorie item until I learned exactly how good these are for you!
  • Dried Cherries: While not strictly necessary to this dish, these cherries add a lovely chewiness and replace the more common sugar laden dried cranberries often seen in this salad. Cost for a heaping tablespoon, from the bulk aisle, was about 15 cents.
  • Red Onion: I often buy these at  Aldi’s, bagged, about 50 cents a pound, 1/4 of a small one was 5 ounces, cost about 12 cents. Be sure to think of other ways to use the rest…in winter, I often serve another fruit/salad combination, an Avocado and Mandarin salad that is marvelous with thinly sliced red onion.
  • Dijon:  I always pick up a lot of Dijon (and all my other condiments) during the summer when condiments will reach their all time lows and coupons abound. If I miss that, I’ll check during the Super Bowl sales. We go through tons of Dijon because it’s called for in so many recipes and I’ll use it for vinaigrettes and salad dressings. If I can’t find a deal with a coupon, the store brands on sale are often a good value.
  • When I can’t get any more out of my container, I add a little red or white wine vinegar and a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper and shake it for a quick salad dressing in the jar.)  Cost for 5 tablespoons – a guess- about 12 cents.
  • Garlic:  Runs around 59 to 99 cents a head in my area in the boxes.  It can be a little tricky to discern the best prices because it can also be bought by the pound, and generally you’ll pay less this way.  I figure about 8 cents.
  • Olive Oil: I have a little strategy for buying olive oil – using coupons and sales to lower the price, so click on the link. I think it’s important to use olive oil as opposed to many others – the health benefits outweigh a bit more extra cost, and it can be had at a very reasonable price. Cost for this recipe: 93 cents.
  • Vinegar: Buy around Easter for the plain vinegar and during the summer or holidays for the flavored when sales and coupons abound.  A few tablespoons of white vinegar is nominal.

One thought on “Healthy Harvest Salad”

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