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Written by Ripe London on September 30, 2020

Filling Vegetarian Salads for Healthy Meal Times

Autumn is an absolutely wonderful time of year for vegetarians, with so many delicious, earthy, sweetly robust roots and bulbs coming into full season from September to December. Home cooks craving a warming, wholesome main course salad or veg dish are arguably more spoiled for choice now than in any other season.

With that in mind, we’ve put together a couple of delicious autumnal recipes below: filling vegetarian salads for healthy meal times. These colourful, vitamin-packed main courses are a great alternative to bland carb binges as the temperature starts to drop. They’re also very quick and easy to bung in the oven on a weeknight. If you’ve got half an hour to spare, you can more or less throw them together in a single roasting tray and be done with it.

Most importantly, of course, they’re absolutely delicious - bursting with fresh, healthy, interesting vegetable combinations that really come into their own around this time of year.

Autumn Panzanella with balsamic glaze

The famous Tuscan dish panzanella is traditionally served as a colourful flavour-riot of tomatoes, shallots, anchovies, olives, basil and dressing. A perennial star of the ‘filling vegetarian
salads’ scene, it’s always bulked out by being casually thrown together with chunks of lightly roasted (and ideally slightly stale) bread.

That’s exactly how you can make it year-round if you like, although putting tomatoes at centre stage always makes this dish feel quite summery to us. For a seasonal October-November twist, we prefer a mixture of roasted butternut squash, red onion and sweet peppers, with a more smoky-sweet twist on the standard vinaigrette dressing.

Since the whole thing is being thrown in the oven, you can use more or less any warming autumn veggies and herbs here: roasted carrots, aubergine, parsnip, sweet potato and globe artichoke all work really well.

The secret is to keep everything chopped nice and chunky, while giving any harder veggies (squash, carrot etc) long enough to cook through and soften. Letting some caramelisation occur will yield more intense flavours and a light sticky sweetness - perfect as those evenings start to draw in.

Ingredients (serves 3-4)

  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and roughly chopped
  • 3-4 peppers, ideally a mixture of red and yellow, deseeded and cut into wide strips
  • 2 large red onions, or 4-5 shallots
  • 1-2 small ciabatta or sourdough loaves, preferably a day or two old, torn into chunks
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp paprika (smoked if available)
  • 125ml good quality balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • Optional: roughly chopped walnuts and/or chives, to serve
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


Prep 5-10min; Cook 30min

Preheat oven to 180°C

  1. Roughly chop your veg into chunks, strips or batons, depending on texture and preference.
  2. Mix the olive oil and paprika in a small dish or glass, and set aside.
  3. When the oven is up to temperature, put the toughest veg (squash, carrots, parsnips etc) into a roasting dish. Pour over 1/3 of the oil/paprika mix, and toss to coat them lightly. Get them straight in the oven on the middle shelf for 10min.
  4. While the first batch of veg is cooking, pour your balsamic into a heavy-based saucepan along with the brown sugar. Simmer and reduce while stirring over a medium-high heat, until the sugar is dissolved and the glaze has started to thicken and shine. (Don’t overdo it - it’ll thicken more as it cools, and you don’t want it turning fudgy.) Set aside when done.
  5. After the tougher veg has had 10min, throw the rest of your faster-cooking veg (onions, peppers etc) into the roasting dish, and add another 1/3 of the oil/paprika mix. Toss them around (with a spatula or wooden spoon this time!) to ensure a thorough coating, and return to the oven for a further 10min.
  6. Spread out your torn-up bread chunks on a baking tray and very lightly drizzle/toss with the remaining oil - you don’t need to use it all if it looks as if you’ll be saturating the bread.
  7. Immediately pop the tray of lightly oiled bread chunks on the top shelf of the oven, while your veggies stay on the middle rack. Again, give it 10min, then check on the bread - you want it just starting to brown. If you’ve timed it right, the veg should be just about starting to brown in a couple of spots too.
  8. When everything’s nicely done, remove from the oven and throw the bread chunks into the main roasting dish with the veg. Drizzle with the balsamic glaze, toss lightly a final time, and serve immediately before the bread soaks up all the roasting juices. If you’re using chopped walnuts or chives as a garnish, just sprinkle a small handful over as you carry it to the table.

Roasted celeriac, beetroot and apple salad with grains

It’s definitely worth giving celeriac a try, even if you’re not a huge fan of raw celery stalks. Especially when roasted, the bulbous root of the plant has a nuttier, earthier taste and smoother texture - it’s no coincidence that it’s often used as a more interesting alternative to mash.

The tartly fruity flavours of apple and beetroot provide a lovely counterbalance here, along with the drizzle of maple or honey in the dressing. A handful of toasted nuts - ideally pecans or hazelnuts - are highly worthwhile for added texture. The result is an intensely autumnal warm salad that works brilliantly as a main course or substantial side dish.

For a truly satisfying main, we like to stir in some cooked bulgur wheat, quinoa or giant couscous for added bulk. If you prefer, though, you can simply serve it with a few hunks of crusty oven-warmed bread - it’s a winner (and a warmer!) either way.

Ingredients (serves 3-4)

  • 1-2 celeriac
  • 2-3 beetroot, peeled and sliced into wedges (1cm)
  • 1 large apple, cored and diced - no need to peel if you prefer a more rustic look
  • 150-200g quinoa, bulgur wheat or giant couscous
  • A good handful of rocket leaves
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp honey/maple syrup
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


Prep 10min; Cook 25min

Preheat oven to 180°C

  1. If using bulgur wheat, quinoa or giant couscous, check the packet instructions and figure out whether you need to start this in advance or not. (Bulgur wheat can easily take 40min, quinoa more like 15min, while couscous tends to be very quick.)
  2. Peel and dice (1cm) or thinly slice (0.5cm) the celeriac, and arrange on a roasting dish or tray.
  3. Core and dice the apple - no need to peel, unless you desperately want to - and add to the roaster with the celeriac.
  4. Finally (to avoid staining everything else on your chopping board pink!), peel and cut the beetroot into 1cm wedges. Place either on a second baking tray, or position away from the celeriac and apple (again, to reduce colour bleed).
  5. Make up a dressing from the olive oil, honey/maple syrup, lemon juice, plucked thyme leaves, and a little seasoning. Drizzle about a third of it over the chopped vegetables - just enough to coat with a light toss.
  6. Put the roasting tray(s) straight on the middle shelf of the oven. Check after 20-25min, but be prepared to give them another 5min or so if they need it - they should be just starting to soften and brown.
  7. When ready, remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly. Meanwhile, roughly chop and very lightly toast your pecans or hazelnuts over a low heat in a dry pan. 2min or so will do it - it’s important not to let them catch, as they can quickly burn if you’re inattentive.
  8. Add your cooked quinoa/couscous/bulgur wheat to the warm roasted veg, and mix lightly. At the last moment before serving, throw in your toasted nuts and rocket leaves, then drizzle over the remaining 2/3 of your dressing mix. Give it all a very light final toss to get everything nicely coated, and serve before the rocket starts to wilt.
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