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Fall Harvest Salad with Roasted Chicken, Sweet Potatoes, and Beets

Updated: Aug 7, 2021

The beautiful colors in this salad are like fall in a bowl! Tender roasted chicken, sweet potatoes, and beets are served on a bed of chopped mixed greens containing arugula, baby spinach, and kale.


The flavors pair perfectly with the tart pomegranate arils and diced red and green apples. The salad is finished with roasted pecans, crumbled feta cheese, and a sweet and smoky maple and apple cider vinaigrette. Delish!

Recipe inspired and adapted from Fox and Briar


The temperatures are finally starting to cool off here in St. Louis. The cooler night air, the falling of the leaves, and the beautiful fall produce make me super excited to cook fall recipes again.


This "jam-packed" salad is the perfect transition recipe into fall. It is so versatile. You can easily swap out the sweet potatoes for nice delicate squash, the beets for Brussels sprouts, dried cranberries for the apples, walnuts for the roasted pecans, and goat cheese for the crumbled feta. You can also add in some cooked grains – quinoa, sorghum (both gluten-free), or farro would all be excellent. For the greens, I love the flavor combination of the spicy arugula and bitterness of the spinach and kale, but you can certainly use what you like or what you have on hand.


Now, I have a confession. I do not like beets. I have tried really hard to like them – I just can't. There are very few foods that I feel this strongly about – yellow mustard is another. Nope, no hot dogs slandered in mustard for me. If I dislike beets so much, why include them in this salad? The short answer? My husband, Trevor loves them. He also adores the pickled ones in a jar (yuck). So, he got my beets. Husband "brownie points" are always a good idea – but if you side with me in your dislike for them, feel free to leave them out, or substitute with something else. I certainly won't judge.


I usually prep the components of this salad – the roasted chicken, sweet potatoes, beets, and pecans – the day prior, or I sometimes I use the prepped and cooked chicken that I stored away in the freezer. That way, all I have to do to assemble this wonderful salad is a little chopping and mix up the simple dressing. You can easily have this salad on the table for a weeknight dinner in about 20 minutes – all it takes is some smart cooking and a little planning.


With this salad, you are going to get a bonus recipe. It is probably the number 1 recipe/cooking technique that I share with anyone who is just starting to cook. It is for my easy oven-roasted chicken. I promise you will use it over and over again for recipes that call for cooked chicken. Once it goes into the oven, it is pretty much hands-off. It is so incredibly easy! I usually roast several pounds of boneless chicken at once. Then, I shred or cube it and then portion it for the freezer. It works perfectly for salads like this or hearty soups as we get further into fall and winter. It is such a time-saver!


I roast the chicken using a moist heat method. In moist heat cooking methods, liquid or steam is used to cook the food. In this case, we will use water at the bottom of a roasting rack to create steam while the chicken is roasting. This technique creates moist air inside the oven. It keeps the meat from drying out during the cooking process. It will also make it very moist, flavorful, and juicy.


To do this, take a large rimmed baking sheet and place a shallow roasting rack inside (see picture below). Spray the roasting rack with non-stick cooking spray and place the boneless, skinless chicken breasts on the rack. Fill the bottom of the baking sheet with water (about halfway up the sides of the pan). Give the chicken a good sprinkle of Emeril's Original Essence Seasoning (it's gluten-free). Carefully place the rack into a 350-degree oven for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, flip the chicken over, refill the water in the bottom of the pan (to be halfway up the sides), and give the second side a sprinkle of Essence. Continue to roast the chicken for another 25 to 30 minutes until it is no longer pink in the center (or a safe 165 degrees). Move the chicken to a platter and cover it with foil. Allow it to rest on the platter for at least 25 to 30 minutes before you cube or shred it. Do not get rid of the cooking liquid that has gathered on the platter while it rested. After you shred or cube the chicken, mix the cooking liquid back into the shredded meat. It keeps the chicken very moist and tender, but it also adds tons of flavor. This method will give you perfectly roasted and very juicy chicken every single time. You're welcome.


To prepare the sweet potatoes and beets for the salad, wash them under cold water and pat dry. Next, remove the skins with a veggie peeler, and cut them up into cubes. You'll want them to be relatively the same size. Place them on two rimmed baking sheets (you'll want to cook the beets and sweet potatoes separately so the beet juice doesn't stain your sweet potatoes) that have been lined with foil and sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Roast them at 400 degrees for about an hour, turning them occasionally. Allow them to cool completely before adding them to the salad. Alternatively, you can do this the night before and store in the fridge until you are ready to assemble the salad. Just put them into the microwave for a few seconds to remove the chill and soften them up a bit before adding them to the salad.


To assemble the salad – on a large cutting board, roughly chop the arugula, baby spinach, and kale and place it in a large salad bowl. My preferred method is to make this salad in 4 individual serving bowls. That way, you can easily omit an ingredient from one or more of the salads depending on your preference (remember the beets?). Next, place the shredded chicken on the cutting board and give it a rough chop. Place the chicken into the bowl(s). Dice the green and red apples into large chunks, removing the core and seeds (no need to peel). Add it to the salad. Next, add the pomegranate arils (see Pro tip below for removing seeds), roasted sweet potatoes, and beets (if using). Set aside while you prepare the maple and apple cider vinaigrette.


For the dressing – in a small bowl or mason jar, whisk together the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and maple syrup. Next, add the minced garlic, chili powder, smoked paprika, and salt and pepper. Whisk until all the ingredients are combined. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use. Be sure to whisk or shake the dressing (if stored in a mason jar) just before serving – the ingredients tend to separate as they sit.


Rather than tossing this colorful masterpiece together, I love to serve it with all the wonderful components side-by-side on a bed of the chopped mixed greens. That way, you can see all the beautiful, fresh ingredients.


Just before serving, drizzle the salad(s) with the maple and apple cider vinaigrette, then add the crumbled goat or feta cheese (I used dairy-free) and roasted pecans (see Pro tip below for roasting pecans). Finally, give it a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper, if desired.


Now, you can toss it. Let's eat!


Let’s get cooking!

 

Ingredients


Roasted chicken:

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast

  • 2-3 tablespoons Emeril's Original Essence Seasoning

Salad:

  • 6-8 cups mixed greens – arugula, baby spinach, and kale (center ribs removed)

  • 2 large sweet potatoes, washed, peeled, and diced into cubes

  • 2 large beets, washed, peeled, and diced into cubes

  • 1 green apple, diced (washed, cored, and cut into cubes)

  • 1 red apple such as Gala or Honey crisp (washed, cored, and cut into cubes)

  • Arils from one pomegranate (about 1 cup)

  • 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese or feta cheese (I used Violife Just Like Feta)

  • 1 cup pecan halves, roasted (see Pro tip)

Dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

  • 1 garlic clove pressed or finely minced

  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

  • Salt and pepper

 

How to make

Please be sure to visit Fox and Briar for the source recipe and instructions.


Roasted chicken:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  2. Take a large rimmed baking sheet and place a roasting rack inside of it.

  3. Spray the roasting rack with non-stick cooking spray.

  4. Place the boneless, skinless chicken breasts on the rack.

  5. Fill the bottom of the baking sheet with water about halfway up the sides of the pan.

  6. Sprinkle the chicken breast with Emeril's Original Essence Seasoning

  7. Roast the chicken for 30 minutes.

  8. Carefully remove the pan from the oven.

  9. Flip the chicken over, and refill the water in the bottom of the pan

  10. Sprinkle the second side of the chicken with Essence.

  11. Continue to roast the chicken for another 25-30 minutes, until it is no longer pink in the center (or a safe 165 degrees).

  12. Move the chicken to a platter and cover it with foil.

  13. Allow it to rest on the platter or at least 25-30 minutes before you cube or shred it.

Beets and sweet potatoes:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

  2. Wash the sweet potatoes and beets in cold water. Pat dry.

  3. Peel the sweet potatoes and beets with a vegetable peel to remove their skins.

  4. Cut sweet potato and beets up into cubes all relatively the same size.

  5. Place them on two rimmed baking sheet that has been lined with foil and sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.

  6. Roast for about an hour, turning occasionally.

  7. Allow to cool completely before adding them to the salad

Salad:

  1. On a large cutting board, roughly chop the arugula, baby spinach, and kale, and place it in a large salad bowl or 4 individual serving bowls.

  2. Place the shredded chicken on the cutting board and give it a rough chop. Place the chicken into the bowl(s).

  3. Dice the green and red apples into large chunks. Add it to the bowls.

  4. Add the pomegranate seeds (see Pro tip below for removing seeds), roasted sweet potatoes, and beets (if using).

  5. Set aside while you prepare the maple and apple cider vinaigrette.

  6. Just before serving, drizzle the salad(s) with the maple and apple cider vinaigrette.

  7. Add the crumbled goat or feta cheese, and roasted pecans (see Pro tip below for roasting pecans).

  8. Give the salad(s) a pinch of salt and freshly ground cracked black pepper, if desired.

  9. Enjoy!

  10. Please scroll to the bottom to share your comments and feedback.

Dressing:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and maple syrup.

  2. Add the minced garlic, chili powder, smoked paprika, and salt and pepper.

  3. Whisk until all the ingredients are combined.

  4. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

  5. Be sure to whisk or shake the dressing (if stored in a mason jar) just before serving as the ingredients will separate as they sit.


Pro tips

How to de-seed a pomegranate

Using a sharp knife, score around the top of the pomegranate. Carefully pry the skin and remove this section. You will notice a 5-point star pattern. Score down the sides of the fruit using this pattern as your guide to cut it into sections.


Carefully pry the sections apart.  Use your thumb and fingers to remove the seeds (arils) from the white pith.  

 

How to roast pecans

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the pecans on a dry, rimmed baking sheet. Roast about 7 to 8 minutes until toasted and slightly browned. Allow to cool before removing them from the pan.


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