Fall Salad with Lemon Poppy Seed Dressing


With winter just around the corner, I am sort of thinking I should have chosen a different name for this salad!  This is the perfect recipe to get through the cold months when fresh produce is not abundant.  It is also a worthy counterbalance to the excesses of the holidays…like all that Oreo Bark!

Loving salads as I do, it would be nearly impossible to choose a favorite.  If pressed, however, this recipe might take the honors.   It has been a staple in our house since I enjoyed a similar salad at a friend’s house years ago.

Once the dressing is mixed, this delicious fall side can be pulled together in minutes.   The dressing can be made ahead, will last for several weeks in the refrigerator, and will provide enough to dress multiple salads.

My kids don’t care for Swiss cheese but, in this salad, they never seem to notice.  The flavor subtly enhances the salad without overpowering it.  If you don’t have Swiss cheese on hand, however, the salad is still delicious without.  When fresh cranberries are available, I occasionally use them instead of the dried version.  Their tart crunch is a nice counterpoint to the slightly sweet dressing.

To make this salad ahead without the apples and pears turning brown, place the chopped fruit in the bottom of your salad bowl and toss with a couple of tablespoons of the dressing.  Add the lettuce and the remaining ingredients, without tossing, then cover and refrigerate.  When ready to eat, simply toss and drizzle with more dressing if needed.  I have prepared this salad several hours before serving time and the lemon juice in the dressing keeps the fruit crisp and bright.

You may use the recipe as a framework, adding more or less of any ingredient to suit your taste.  Typically, I use a tart apple like a Granny Smith, but feel free to choose your favorite.

Fall Salad with Lemon Poppy Seed Dressing
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  1. 1 apple, diced or thinly sliced
  2. 1 pear, diced or thinly sliced
  3. ½ cup cashews
  4. ¼ cup red onion, chopped or slivered
  5. ¼ cup dried cranberries
  6. 1 head romaine lettuce, 5 ounces baby spinach or a mix of your favorite greens
  7. ½ cup Swiss cheese, grated (additional for garnish, if desired)
  1. ½ cup sugar
  2. 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  3. 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  4. ½ teaspoon salt
  5. ½ cup canola or grape seed oil
  6. 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  1. Combine the dressing ingredients in a jar with a tightly fitting lid and whisk or shake well to emulsify.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the salad ingredients with the poppy seed dressing. Grate additional cheese over top, if desired.
  3. Refrigerate unused portion of the salad dressing. This will be enough dressing for several salads.
The Fountain Avenue Kitchen http://fountainavenuekitchen.com/

This recipe was shared with Bobbi’s Kozy Kitchen.

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  1. Beverley

    Such a fresh tasty salad and look forward to trying this one out…thank you Ann for all your inspirational recipes xoxo

  2. Mary Lou Keller

    Another one I need to make soon! Looks as beautiful as I am sure it tastes great!
    Thanks for sharing Ann.

    1. Ann

      Thank you very much for the thoughtful comment, Maureen! I hope you get a chance to make this salad and enjoy it…perhaps with some pizza!

  3. patti keil

    Very similar to a salad I fell in love with at a school potluck but never found out who made it so I could get the recipe! My daughters always tease me about all of the “really good salads” I rave about after every event we go to! I can’t wait to try this one!

  4. Rila Hackett


    This is an amazing salad! I love nuts and apples in salad but had never thought to use cashews. That, along with the swiss cheese and red onion, is a great combo. And the Lemon Poppy Seed dressing is delicious! I’ve been wanting to get away from store bought dressings and this one is so easy, inexpensive, yummy, and healthier. But don’t just take my word for it. Colin said, “That was a GREAT salad!” What 11 year old says that?… about salad, no less — unless it’s truly great. 🙂

    1. Ann

      I am smiling from ear to ear, Rila! Thank you for the thoughtful comments. I am so glad this salad was well received at your house! This is one of my favorites and I appreciate how quickly I can whip it up once the dressing is made. Love that 11-year-old of yours: )

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  6. Rila Hackett

    Ann…. I stumbled upon another application for your wonderful Lemon Poppy Seed Dressing. I’ve never been a big fan of cole slaw but tonight I tossed a broccoli slaw in your dressing (instead of mayonnaise) and also added some cashews, grated swiss cheese, and craisins. The results were a lighter, lemony kind of slaw that was delicious! Thanks again!

    1. Ann

      Rila, you are brilliant! I am going to try your idea. I have not had broccoli slaw in ages–and everyone here likes broccoli! It is bound to be a hit! Thank you for sharing your new use for an old favorite: )

  7. Allison

    Excellent!! Subbed goat cheese and pistachios and it was well received… Hint don’t use juice from Meyer lemons as you need that acidic tang. The Meyer lemon juice was a little too sweet…but what a great salad!!

    1. Ann

      Thanks so much for the comment, Allison, and for the Meyer lemon feedback. I have never tried this dressing with a Meyer lemon so never considered it. Your comment is bound to help someone else!

  8. Mary Lou Keller

    Hi Ann! Made this dressing tonight with a variation on your salad..love the dressing!

    I had it with a simple pasta dish that is one of our favorites. I’ll email the recipe to you.

    1. Ann

      That would be wonderful, Mary Lou, and I am so glad you enjoyed this dressing. It is one I look forward to every fall!

  9. Mary Lou Keller

    I had a pear, some dried cranberries and I used slivered almonds since I did not have cashews. I even threw some blueberries on it. Really good mix of flavors and textures..especially with some shredded Swiss cheese.

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