8 & $20 Recipe: Roasted Autumn Vegetable Salad with Balsamic-Walnut Dressing (Wine Spectator)

Eight ingredients, plus pantry staples. That’s all it takes to make an entire meal from scratch. Add in a good bottle of wine for less than $20, and you’ve got a feast for family or friends.

As summer comes to an end, it’s time for fall produce to step into the spotlight. This hearty salad recipe highlights two of my favorite—and perhaps the quintessential—veggies of the season: sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts. A high-temperature roast, with a simple seasoning of salt and pepper, lets their natural flavors shine while enhancing their sweetness. If you prefer to swap in something else, most hearty vegetables will roast well at the same temperature for the same amount of time.

I like to do an easy, single sheet-pan roast: Cooking the vegetables together, along with the chicken thighs, saves time and energy, not to mention dirty dishes. Just use a pan that’s large enough to avoid overcrowding, which can hinder the browning process.

To achieve tender vegetables with caramelized, lightly crisp exteriors, toss them well in olive oil to start and toss them again mid-roast, to ensure all sides get a chance to turn that flavorful shade of golden-brown. If your veggies roast a little too long, don’t sweat it. A light char can bring pleasant bitterness to accent the honeyed dressing. Fair warning: You may want to roast an extra batch—the veggies make a great snack, even chilled right out of the fridge.

The dressing brings another fall ingredient into the mix with walnuts, which get a quick toast, releasing the nuts’ natural oils, for more flavor depth and crunch. I use mayonnaise to create a thick-textured dressing, but you can also use plain yogurt, sour cream or crème fraîche.

For even easier weeknight meal planning, most of this salad can be made ahead of time. Prepare the sheet-pan roast and the dressing up to three days in advance, then assemble everything when you’re ready to eat.

I tasted the dish with a Beaujolais, but I found its bright, juicy red fruit outshone the subtle, nutty sweetness of the roasted vegetables. A clean, Provence-style rosé worked much better, as its fresh acidity and subtle berry flavors complemented both the fresh greens and the richer fall produce without overpowering any element.

Salad with Chicken, Roasted Autumn Vegetables and Balsamic-Walnut Dressing

Pair with a Provence-style rosé such as Gérard Bertrand Grenache-Syrah-Cinsault Languedoc Rosé Cote des Roses 2017.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes
Total time: 50 minutes
Approximate food costs: $30

  • 4 cups Brussels sprouts
  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 6 cups mixed greens (I used a combination of kale and spring mix)
  • Salt
  • Pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 425 F. Slice the Brussels sprouts lengthwise into halves and cut the sweet potatoes into 1-inch cubes, leaving the skins on. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil on a large sheet pan and add the vegetables, tossing to coat in the oil. Season with salt and pepper. Place the chicken thighs on the pan, turning once to coat in the pan’s oil, and season both sides with salt and pepper.

2. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, flipping the chicken and tossing the vegetables halfway through. Set aside chicken and Brussels sprouts and let the sweet potatoes roast for 5 minutes more. Once cooled, cut chicken into bite-sized cubes.

3. To make the dressing: Toast 1/3 cup of walnuts in a dry pan over medium heat, shaking occasionally, for about 4 minutes until fragrant, and stir into dressing. Set aside to cool. In a small bowl, mix the mayonnaise until smooth and whisk in remaining olive oil, balsamic vinegar, minced garlic and honey. Stir in toasted walnuts and season with salt and pepper.

4. Tear the lettuce into bite-sized pieces and toss with desired amount of dressing (you may have some left over) and then toss with roasted vegetables, chicken and remaining walnuts.Serves 4.

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