By Barbara Beltrami

Autumn brings with it a plethora of veggies that we too often think we have to cook to death in soups, stews and casseroles. But greens like kale, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower make a nice base for a salad. Root veggies like beets and carrots add color while nuts and seeds give a whole new dimension to salad dressings. Add autumn fruits with or without your favorite lettuces and you’ve got a great main or side dish. Add some protein like chicken, beans, salmon, shrimp or cheese and you’ve got a healthful one-dish meal, if you want. And there’s no reason you can’t try them with the dressing of your choice instead of the ones here.

Roasted Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Orange-Balsamic Vinaigrette

Roasted Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Orange-Balsamic Vinaigrette

YIELD: Makes 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

Nonstick cooking spray

3 to 4 medium beets, washed, trimmed, peeled and cut into quarters

12 garlic cloves, peeled

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon orange juice

1 tablespoon grated orange zest

1 tablespoon minced red onion

½ teaspoon Dijon mustard

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

4 cups baby arugula

2/3 cup crumbled goat cheese

½ cup chopped toasted walnuts

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400 F. Spray shallow baking pan with nonstick cooking spray; add beets, garlic, thyme and 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil; toss to coat thoroughly, then roast, turning once or twice, until beets are tender, about 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven. When beets reach room temperature, dice them. In medium bowl, whisk together remaining oil, vinegar, orange juice, zest, onion, mustard, and salt and pepper; add beet mixture; toss to thoroughly coat. Line salad plates with arugula; heap beet mixture evenly on top; sprinkle with goat cheese and walnuts. Serve immediately at room temperature with meat, poultry or a hearty soup.

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Baby Spinach and Apple Cider Dressing

YIELD: Makes 8 servings

INGREDIENTS:

3 pounds butternut squash, peeled and diced

¼ cup olive oil

2 tablespoons brown sugar

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

1½ cups apple cider

¼ cup cider vinegar

¼ cup minced shallot

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

½ pound baby spinach, washed and patted dry

3 sweet-tart apples, peeled, cored, diced and tossed with freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 cup sliced almonds, toasted

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400 F. In a very large bowl toss the squash cubes with the quarter cup of olive oil, brown sugar and salt and pepper. Spread evenly on baking sheet and roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until squash is tender. Meanwhile in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat combine the cider, vinegar, shallot, and salt and pepper and bring to a boil; cook for about 6 minutes until liquid is reduced by half. Let cool a little, then add mustard and cup of olive oil. Let cool completely. Line a platter or large bowl with spinach; add squash; drain apples and place on top of squash; sprinkle with almonds and cheese, if using. Serve at room temperature with a meat, poultry, soup or pasta.

Brussels Sprout, Pear and Kale Salad with Mustard-Honey Vinaigrette

YIELD: Makes 8 to 10 servings

INGREDIENTS:

3 firm Anjou pears, peeled, cored and sliced into half-inch wedges

¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 large bunches lacinato kale, center stem removed and leaves cut into thin strips

12 ounces fresh Brussels sprouts, trimmed and thinly sliced

2 cups dried cranberries

1 garlic clove

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon honey

¼ cup white wine vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

In a small bowl toss the pear slices with the lemon juice; remove pears and reserve lemon juice for another use, if desired. In a large bowl toss together the pears, kale, Brussels sprouts and cranberries. Cover with plastic wrap and chill to up to 4 hours until ready to serve, then remove from fridge and let sit at room temperature 30 minutes. Meanwhile in small bowl whisk together the garlic, oil, mustard, honey, vinegar and salt and pepper; let sit at least an hour, then remove garlic and toss dressing with salad. Serve at room temperature with poultry, meat or casserole.

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