Fall is full of some of my favorite ingredients, and the colors and textures of all the seasonal fruits and vegetables create amazing salads. Grilling pears and apples adds a smoky flavor, and a good quality cheese and simple dressing brings the dish together. You can top salads with toasted nuts, pomegranate seeds or even pumpkin seeds. Grilled portobello mushrooms also lend a nice, earthy flavor during the cooler months.
Get creative with seasonal ingredients, buy local and use fall nights to create delicious grilled dinners for your family and friends.
Grilled Apple Salad with Cider Vinaigrette
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Yields 4 servings
2 medium honey crisp or gala apples
6-ounce bag mixed greens
1/2 cup toasted pecans
3-ounces blue cheese
Olive oil for brushing
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons whole grain mustard
1/2 tablespoon honey
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon hazelnut oil
Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Set apple on cutting board stem side up. Using a sharp knife, cut 1/4-inch slices from top to bottom until you reach the core. Rotate apple and slice other side. Brush slices with olive oil and grill for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until crisp-tender.
To prepare vinaigrette, whisk together vinegar, mustard and honey. Slowly drizzle in oils, whisking until emulsified. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Toss greens in enough dressing to lightly coat. Arrange 1/4 cup greens on four plates. Top with apple slices and blue cheese. Repeat this twice ending with apple slices. Garnish with freshly cracked black pepper and pecan halves.
Arugula and Grilled Pear Salad with Cider Vinaigrette
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Yields 6 servings
3 Bosc pears, cut in half lengthwise and cored
2 tablespoons melted butter
Seeds of 1 pomegranate, about 1/2 cup
1/3 cup toasted walnuts
8 cups baby arugula
Parmesan cheese curls for garnish
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Preheat grill to medium-high heat, leaving one side of the grill for indirect heat cooking. Brush pear halves with butter and grill 2-3 minutes per side until nice grill marks form. Transfer pears to indirect heat, close lid, and continue cooking until fork tender.
For vinaigrette, combine vinegar, mustard, shallot and sugar in a food processor or blender. Turn on low and slowly drizzle in olive oil until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
In a large bowl, toss arugula with vinaigrette. Top with grilled pears, pomegranate seeds, walnuts and cheese curls; serve immediately.
Gena Knox is the founder of Fire & Flavor and the author of "Gourmet Made Simple." She's blogging about grilling this fall for Slashfood. For more information on Gena, visit her Web site, GenaKnox.com. For more grilling tips, visit the AOL Food Grilling page.