If you’re ever feeling uninspired on which ingredients to choose for your next salad, let Mother Nature decide for you.

While strolling through the produce section of the market (one of my favorite past times), I stopped in my tracks when I came upon some beautiful red Bartlett pears. They were perfectly ripe and I knew they would be a great inspiration for my autumn salad. Always leave the skin on your pears because it has three times the fiber of the pear itself and if you’re over forty, fiber is your best friend.

As I continued my walk I spotted a beautiful gold cauliflower – how great would that color look with my pears? That’s right – it’s okay to design your plate the same way you would design your living room – mix and match beautiful colors and everybody wins. Cauliflower comes in multiple colors – gold, green, purple and white. You can use any color that’s available in your market.

Now that I found these two perfect ingredients, I couldn’t put them on just any lettuce. I chose radicchio and frisee lettuce because of their beautiful colors and texture. I added orange carrots and green celery. I diced in a few dates for a sweet surprise. Finally, for crunch, I chose walnuts and pumpkin seeds.

I knew I needed a special dressing to top this rainbow of ingredients. When I spotted the pumpkin display, I needed to look no further. My pumpkin vinaigrette is so rich, it’s almost not fair to call it a dressing. It’s more of a sauce. Drizzle it on the plate – don’t pour it on the salad. By putting it on the plate, you can scoop up just as much sauce as you need – and a little goes a long way. Let the flavor of the salad come through. The recipe will make more dressing than you need, but trust me, you’ll want to save this for other salads, veggies or a dip – it’s that good.

The portion sizes should also be small because it has fat from the olive oil and I try to use a minimal or modest amount of fat in all of my recipes. So all you’ll need is 1-2 tablespoons per person. Save the rest in the fridge for up to one week.

So next time you’re in the grocery store, stroll the produce aisle and get inspired.

Total Time: 20 minutes
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: n/a
Servings: 4


Pumpkin Vinaigrette Dressing

  • 1 c. canned pumpkin
  • 1/4 c. + 2T. olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 5 T. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 T agave nectar (or real maple syrup)
  • 1/8 t. pumpkin pie spice
  • 4-5 grinds of fresh black peppercorns
  • 1/4 t. salt or to taste


Combine all ingredients except oil in blender.  When fully blender, drizzle olive oil in slowly until fully incorporated.   Serving size 1-2 T. per person.  Save the rest in the fridge for up to one week.



  • 1 small head radicchio (about 8 oz.), torn or cut into bite sized piece – reserve some of the leaves for garnish
  • 1 small head frisee lettuce (about 10 oz.), cut into bite sized pieces, reserve some of the long leaves for garnish
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 head gold cauliflower, florets only (you can use the remainder of the cauliflower for soup stock)
  • 4 T. walnuts, chopped
  • 4 T. pumpkin seeds, shelled
  • 4 dates, pitted and diced into small pieces
  • 1 red Bartlett pear (or any pear in season), cut into thin slices



  1. Drizzle 1-2 T. of dressing on each plate using a spoon or squeeze bottle.
  2. Arrange the radicchio leaves and longer pieces of frieze on the plate.
  3. Mix the remaining ingredients except pumpkin seeds in a blow without dressing, to fully incorporate.
  4. Add the ingredients to the plate and garnish with pumpkin seeds.

Enjoy our Autumn Salad with Pumpkin Vinaigrette, let us know what you think