This year, I’m definitely using this Thanksgiving salad recipe to enjoy alongside turkey and potatoes! All of the flavors combine to make a delicious fall salad with candied pepitas and a tasty homemade dressing.
If you’re looking for the most incredibly delicious fall salad, THIS is the one to make. It’s a salad I’ve been making and eating on repeat.
The thing I love about this salad (I mean I love so many things, but one of my favorites) is that instead of candied pecans, this salad uses candied pepita seeds. And they are stovetop candied pepitas, so it only takes a few minutes to make.
Typically, similar salads feature candied pecans of some sort. I love eating them in recipes like my spinach salad. You could absolutely use those, but I prefer pepitas, which are pumpkins seeds!
What ingredients are in this Thanksgiving salad recipe?
- Pepitas – did you know that these are just pumpkin seeds? In this recipe, you will candy them on the stovetop and it’s super easy to do!
- Brown sugar – providing a great base for melting and candying pepitas
- Cinnamon – a base ingredient in many fantastic fall recipes. Cinnamon is used in the candied pepitas and the dressing for this salad, it adds a warming spiced flavor
- Salad greens – I like to use a spring mix, but you could simply use spinach or any greens of your choice. To make eating easier, tear the greens into smaller pieces before putting in the bowl.
- Honey – honey is used in the dressing. And if you’re able, it’s always nice to find and use honey made by a local producer.
- EVOO – the base of this delicious salad dressing.
- Apple cider vinegar – use apple cider vinegar to add some tartness to your dressing, if you don’t have apple cider vinegar, simply use red wine or white wine vinegar in its place (any vinegar will do.)
- Dijon mustard – don’t get scared by this! The dijon mustard helps add a little zip, but doesn’t overtake the flavors.
- Apple – a tart apple is key for this salad because it balances well with the creamy goat cheese and cranberries. I like to use pink lady variety, but you could use a Granny smith or other tart apple.
- Dried cranberries – a fall flavor that layers well with tart apples and goat cheese.
- Goat cheese – goat cheese adds that last touch of extra flavor and provides a creamy texture that balances well with the salad dressing.
How do you make this simple Thanksgiving salad?
- First things first, you’ll want to toast the pepita seeds. For this, you simply put the following ingredients in a stovetop skillet and heat on high for 1-2 minutes, until the sugar dissolves and is bubbling. Add pumpkin seeds and cook for another 2 minutes. Spread on parchment paper to cool. Once cooled break up and crumble over salad.
- brown sugar
- Then you’ll want to prepare your homemade dressing. I talk a bit more about this below.
- Now it’s time to assemble the salad. Before putting your lettuce in a bowl, I rip it into smaller bites. Cut your apple and combine all ingredients in your favorite salad bowl. Crumble goat cheese on top, pour dressing and toss.
What substitutions can you make in this salad?
There is a lot of room to get creative with this salad if one of these flavors isn’t your favorite.
- If you don’t have pepitas at home, you can absolutely use pecans, or even walnuts or sunflower seeds. I would just suggest toasting them or candying them first. It really helps add some nice texture/crunch to the salad. You could use a combination of nuts/seeds
- I used a pink lady apple in this salad, but you can substitute any apples you have on hand. If you have options, I would do my best to stick to something that is more tart, like granny smith.
- You could use dried cherries or raisins in place of dried cranberries
- Goat cheese is not everyone’s favorite, although I love it so much! If it’s not your thing, you can select another crumbly, soft cheese, like feta.
If you have never homemade a dressing, don’t fret! This dressing, and most dressings are so easy to put together. For the dressing, you need the following ingredients:
- Apple cider vinegar
- Dijon mustard
- Garlic clove
Now onto the cheese! I know that cheese can get expensive, but I’ve got a tip for you. One of my absolutely favorite places to get cheese is Aldi. It is incredibly affordable and just as delicious as many more expensive cheese brands. If you don’t shop at Aldi, another great source for cheese is Costco!
Toss everything together in the salad bowl and enjoy this beautiful Thanksgiving salad recipe!
Salad with candied nuts and or seeds
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 tsp water
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas) or nuts
- 1/4 cup honey (4 Tbs.)
- 3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbs apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1 garlic clove pressed
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 apple finely sliced. Pink Lady or Granny Smith
- 4 oz. goat cheese crumbled
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1 5 oz, package Spring mix about 4 cups. I used a 5oz. package
To Toast and Candy Seeds or Nuts
- Combine all pepita ingredients, except pumpkin seeds, in a nonstick skillet.
- Cook over high heat for a minute or two until sugar is dissolved and bubbling.
- Add in pumpkin seeds and cook for another two minutes, until well-coated. Continue stirring.
- Remove from heat and spread on parchment paper. Cool and break apart.
To Make Dressing
- Combine all ingredients in a Weck Jar and shake!
To Assemble the Salad
- Add greens into a salad bowl.
- Top greens with apple, candied pepitas, goat cheese, dried cranberries and pour dressing over salad. Toss salad, serve and enjoy