California Harvest Salad

Harvest food goes California-style with this big, colorful, flavorful salad. This one is perfect for everything from fall harvest celebrations through winter holidays and has such a unique combination of ingredients.

This whole salad started with a very magical visit to a fig orchard. And this isn't just any fig orchard... it's in Vermont of all places, and in the town just south of where we live! This primal, Eden-like orchard is the brainchild of my (very ambitious) friends at Paradiso Farm, who were intrepid enough to try growing figs in a greenhouse in Vermont. The result is totally amazing.

One September Sunday, Dave and I drove down to the greenhouse orchard and spent the afternoon learning about figs, tasting different kinds, and eating ripe figs right off the trees. As someone of Italian descent who has figs in her blood, this was phenomenally cool.

To celebrate the amazingly beautiful, very unique Vermont figs we harvested, I wanted to make a dish where the figs were the star of the show. I knew a kale salad was the way to go! It's the perfect way to showcase their earthy sweetness, and also sets up a really striking color contrast.

In order to keep the figs front and center, the rest of this salad is quite simple. It has a delightfully zippy lemon-dijon vinaigrette, and just a few other ingredients all focused on colorful Californian produce. This salad really speaks to the fact that a small number of ingredients can yield a very special result if they all complement each other in just the right way.

Although this salad is simple, it's also super festive. All of these ingredients are just so special and have such a holiday vibe. For that reason, this salad would be a wonderful addition to everything from a fall harvest dinner to Thanksgiving to Christmas. Even the colors are festive!

It also comes together in a snap since everything is raw and requires minimal prep (aside from the pomegranate... sigh... definitely do that the day before). One you've liberated the pomegranate arils from their prison, you can make this salad in about 15 minutes, which is perfect for a holiday meal with lots of other prep needs in the mix.

One very important note. You absolutely must massage your kale! A vigorous massage transforms it from cow food to luscious, delicate, flavor-filled salad heaven. Massaging the kale in the presences of an acidic dressing breaks down the fibrous leaves and helps the kale absorb all the tasty dressing. Please don't skip this step- improperly treated kale is what gives this wonderful ingredient its questionable reputation.

Want to make this salad a meal? Plate it on a bed of farro and top it with some crunchy roasted chick peas! Oh, and of course it should be paired with this Figgy Thyme Gin Fizz. It would also be lovely with a big dollop of this lemon hummus (to match the dressing!) and/or some harvesty roasted veggies.

If you haven't had fresh figs yet, get your hands on some!! They're a truly magical ingredient and something that I look forward to all year long. Being able to have figs grown just a few miles from our house wasn't something I ever expected.

Isn't this just the most festive, decadent salad you've ever seen?? I hope it will be a wonderful addition to all your gatherings and holidays this fall!

Please share your creation so I can see how you've interpreted the concept! Tag "The Rogue Brussel Sprout" on Facebook or hashtag #theroguebrusselsprout on Instagram. 

 Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Paradiso Farm. However, all opinions and thoughts are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that keep The Rogue Brussel Sprout running.

Looking for another salad that's perfect for fall and the holidays? This Apple Cider Harvest Salad is so special and festive.

Thoughts About Ingredients
(These are all just suggestions, since rogue is more fun than recipe)

For the Dressing

  • Juice of a lemon
  • 2 tbsp whole grain mustard. Learn how to make your own here, it's a great addition to all sorts of dressings and sauces.
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • Generous salt and pepper
For the Salad
  • Large bunch of lacinato kale
  • Big handful of pomegranate arils
  • Small handful of roasted/salted pistachios
  • 8-10 figs. Mine are from Paradiso Farm!! If you're in Vermont, make sure to check them out. Regardless of where you are, check out their website for the most wonderful small-batch coffee.
  • Avocado
  • Small handful of fresh basil leaves
Thoughts About Method
(These are all just suggestions, be creative and make it yours)
  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine your dressing ingredients and give it a good mix.
  2. Strip the ribs out of the kale leaves, then cut the kale into thin ribbons perpendicular to where the stems used to be. Give the ribbons a good wash in warm water, which helps start the tenderizing process, then drain well.
  3. Put the kale into the mixing bowl with the dressing. Give it all a very vigorous massage with your hands until the leaves are wilted and tender; it may take several minutes.
  4. Let it all sit for a few minutes while you prepare your other ingredients to continue tenderizing in the lemon juice and salt.
  5. When you're ready to serve, lay the kale on a serving platter. Top it with pomegranate arils, pistachios, figs, avocado slices, and basil leaves.


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