Convert a salad hater with this gorgeously festive, absolutely LOADED fall harvest salad. I’m talking sweet potatoes, crispy bacon, apples, cranberries, salted honey pecans, gruyere and kale all tossed with a creamy tahini Caesar dressing. Perfect for meal prep or holiday spreads.
This is, I think, my ultimate hearty salad. It just has everything – lots of crunch, sweet and salty flavours, a punchy creamy dressing, a whole load of protein to keep you full for longer AND a wide variety of produce. It’s also incredibly versatile. There are lots of tweaks and twists you can make, based on what you have to hand and what you like.
Plus, it’s not only a fab salad for meal prep (it lasts well for five days, even after being tossed in the dressing), but it’s also great as part of a Thanksgiving or Christmas spread. The colours are so festive and fun and I guarantee even a salad hater will be digging into this.
Sweet potatoes. No need to peel them here – I’m using orange sweet potatoes as they’re usually most available for me, but you could white or even purple flesh sweet potatoes too. Or, if you’re not a sweet potato fan, use butternut squash or pumpkin.
Kale. Swap this for another leafy green, like cavolo nero, silverbeet or spinach (you won’t need to massage the dressing into spinach if you use it).
Chickpeas. Either canned or jarred chickpeas are fine here – jarred are better quality so tend to be what I go for.
Bacon. Good quality, free-range streaky bacon is what I recommend here, but you could use back bacon if you prefer, or even chorizo.
Gruyere. You could use mature cheddar, creamy blue cheese, manchego or parmesan instead if you like.
Tahini. Good quality tahini is key to a great dressing – look for tahini produced in Israel or Lebanon for the best quality and I recommend staying away from the grocery store own-brand versions, which tend to be claggy and bitter. I like Al Nakhil, Belazu or Al Yaman (all available on Amazon).
Fish sauce. Traditional Caesar dressing uses anchovies, so I love using fish sauce here. I PROMISE it doesn’t make the dressing taste fishy, it just provides that lovely, deep savoury flavour that’s synonymous with Caesar dressing.
How to make it
Start by roasting your sweet potatoes and chickpeas with olive oil and paprika until charred, and the chickpeas are crispy on the outside. Cook your bacon on the stove top until super crispy, quickly toast your pecan and toss through honey, then chop all your other ingredients.
Mix all the ingredients for your tahini Caesar dressing, adding enough water to create a smooth, pourable sauce. Pour about half of it onto the kale in a bowl, then use your hands to massage it into the leaves. I know this sounds weird – but this step will soften the tough kale and let the dressing absorb into it.
Add the massaged kale, roasted sweet potatoes and chickpeas to a bowl along with the diced apples, dried cranberries, bacon, pecans and gruyere. Toss well to combine. Drizzle with more dressing and serve.
Complete your holiday menu with these ideas
Got a question?
Can I make the salad in advance?
Yes! This is a fab salad for meal prep and it’s a great option for getting ahead when entertaining. It will keep well for five days in the fridge, even when mixed with the dressing.
How do you keep the apples from going brown?
It’s actually really simple – just pop them into cold water while the sweet potatoes and chickpeas are roasting, then drain and pat dry.
Like this recipe? You might enjoy these loaded salads too
If you make this recipe, I’d love to hear from you! You can leave me a comment below.
You’ll convert a salad hater with this gorgeously festive, absolutely LOADED fall harvest salad. I’m talking sweet potatoes, crispy bacon, apples, cranberries, salted honey pecans, gruyere and kale all tossed with a creamy tahini Caesar dressing. It’s perfect for meal prep or holiday spreads.
For the salad –
500g/1lb sweet potatoes (roughly 2 large)
1 x 400g/14oz can chickpeas, drained
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
100g/3.5oz gruyere cheese, diced
2 apples, diced
200g /7oz kale leaves
6 rashers streaky bacon, chopped
¼ cup dried cranberries
⅓ cup pecans
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon flaky salt
For the dressing –
¼ cup tahini
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon miso paste
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon honey
¼ cup water
Roast the sweet potatoes and chickpeas. Heat your oven to 200C/390F. Dice your sweet potatoes (there’s no need to peel them). Toss the diced sweet potatoes and chickpeas with 2 teaspoons of paprika, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Lay them out on a single layer on a lined oven tray and roast for 30 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are charred and soft, and the chickpeas are crispy.
Mix the dressing. Add 1/4 cup tahini, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of fish sauce, 1 teaspoon of miso paste, 1/4 cup grated parmesan, 1 teaspoon of honey and 1/4 cup of water to a small bowl. Use a fork to mix into a smooth, pourable sauce. The tahini will seize up a bit and you might think it won’t come together, but it will, just keep mixing. Add a little more water if you’d like the dressing runnier. Get the kale into a large mixing bowl, then pour half of the dressing over it. Use your hands to massage it into the leaves, then leave it to sit and soften while you prep the other elements.
Make the salted honey pecans. Break up the pecans with your hands (or chop them), then add them to a dry pan over medium heat, and toast, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes, until lightly brown and smelling lovely and fragrant. At this point, add the honey and the flaky sea salt and stir to coat the pecans. Transfer to a baking paper lined plate and leave to get super crispy and sticky.
Cook the bacon and soak the apples. To the same pan, add the diced bacon and cook for 5 minutes over high heat, until super crispy. Set aside. Add the diced apples to a bowl and cover with cold water. Leave for 5 minutes, then drain and pat dry with a paper towel (this will stop them from browning).
Assemble and serve. Add the roasted sweet potatoes and chickpeas, diced gruyere, apple, dried cranberries, crispy bacon and most of the sweet salty pecans to the bowl with the dressed kale. Toss to combine well, then transfer to a serving platter. Drizzle with the remaining dressing, then scatter over the remaining pecans.
STORAGE INSTRUCTIONS: The salad will keep well, for five days, stored in the fridge so it’s wonderful for meal prep, or if you’re looking for a great prep-ahead salad for the holiday season.
INGREDIENT NOTES: I recommend seeking out tahini made in Isreal or Lebanon, for the best flavour and consistency. Grocery store own brand versions tend to be thick, claggy and bitter. I like Al Nakhil, Belazu or Al Yaman (you can find them on Amazon).
SUBSTITUTIONS: You can really play with your ingredients here. Swap sweet potatoes for butternut squash or pumpkin, use spinach or another leafy green rather than kale (skip the massaging if you use something like spinach), swap the cranberries for dried apricots or raisins, use cashews, walnuts or almonds instead of pecans, swap gruyere for mature cheddar, parmesan or manchego and use chorizo instead of bacon if you like.