Seasonal Pantry: Salads perfect for harvest season

The "Follow This Story" feature will notify you when any articles related to this story are posted.

When you follow a story, the next time a related article is published — it could be days, weeks or months — you'll receive an email informing you of the update.

If you no longer want to follow a story, click the "Unfollow" link on that story. There's also an "Unfollow" link in every email notification we send you.

This tool is available only to subscribers; please make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.

Please note: This feature is available only to subscribers; make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.


Fall, autumn, harvest, crush: It’s that time of year, the golden season, with its haunting afternoon light, frequently sizzling days, and cool nights. As Sonoma County is increasingly identified as wine country, grape harvest and crush have become what people think of at this time of year. We see gondolas of grapes heading to wineries. We catch the scent of fermentation on a breeze, and there are endless discussions of the quality of the year’s grapes and questions about whether or not every last cluster will be sold.

But this is just one aspect of harvest. Tomatoes still hang heavy on their vines, melons are ready to be gathered and escorted to farmers markets, all manner of peppers and chiles cry out for our attention, quince and apples are dropping from their trees, and there are still lines at roadside strawberry stands. Olives are just beginning to show a blush, as they turn from green to purple.

To bring attention to the extraordinary diversity of our fields, farms, and ranches, Clark Wolf, a food and restaurant consultant who divides his time between New York City and Sonoma County, has launched the Sonoma County Grand Harvest. One easy way to think of Grand Harvest is as a big umbrella, under which Wolf and his colleagues have gathered events that celebrate the season. Sonoma County Tourism has joined in with support to bring attention to the true scope of the season, which includes wine grapes but is not limited to them.

Farm Trails is hosting the web site, which you can find at or At the site, you’ll find listings for lunches, dinners, classes, fairs, festivals and on-the-farm experiences.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I should add that I’ll be joining in this ongoing celebration with a class and workshop or two at Duckworth Family Farm in Sebastopol.

It’s a glorious time of year in Sonoma County, one that makes so many of us realize why we live here and why we find inventive ways to stay and help maintain our diversity and keep it thriving.

A lot of people complain about monoculture but we are not there yet and, with our enthusiasm and a bit of luck, we never will be. Honestly, here in our vast stretch of agricultural land, six major valleys, hundreds of microclimates, and scores of crops, we have it all, or almost all.

With understanding, tenderness, vision, and a lot of hard work, we can keep it.

Every year during this sweet season, we prove, once again, that Luther Burbank was right when he declared that Sonoma County is “the chosen spot of all the earth as far as nature is concerned.”


Feel free to vary the ingredients in this dish to incorporate your garden’s harvest or whatever local produce you prefer. You can also add crumbled cheese.

Fall Salad with Rosamarina, Corn, Haricots Verts & Cherry Tomato Vinaigrette

Makes 4 to 6 servings

— Kosher salt

6 ounces (about 1 cup) rosamarina, orzo or other small seed-shaped pasta (see Note below)

4 ounces haricots verts (green beans), trimmed

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more as needed

1 shallot, minced

2 garlic cloves, minced

3 tablespoons white wine or champagne vinegar, medium acidity

— Kernels from 3 ears of corn, raw

— Juice of 1 lemon

3 cups small cherry tomatoes, preferably orange, yellow and red, quartered

2 tablespoons snipped fresh chives

3 tablespoons minced fresh Italian parsley

Fill a medium saucepan half full with water, season generously with salt and bring to a boil over high heat.

Add the pasta, stir until the water returns to a boil and cook according to package directions until al dente. Use a medium strainer to scoop the cooked pasta out of the pot, rinse it under cool water, drain thoroughly, and transfer to wide shallow serving bowl.

Drizzle about a tablespoon of olive oil over the pasta, toss and set aside.

Meanwhile, put the shallots and garlic into a medium bowl, add the vinegar, and set aside.

Put the haricots verts into the pot of salted water and cook for 1minute if very tiny or 2 minutes if a bit larger.

If you are using full size Blue Lake green beans, cook for 4 minutes. Remove from the water, rinse under cool water, and drain thoroughly.

Add to the bowl with the pasta; if using large beans, cut them into 1-inch-long pieces first.

Add the corn to the bowl with the pasta and green beans.

Stir the lemon juice into the shallot mixture, season with salt and several turns of black pepper, and stir in the remaining olive oil. Add the cherry tomatoes and the chives and toss together quickly. Taste and correct for salt, pepper and acid balance.

Add the tomato vinaigrette to the bowl and toss gently. Taste, correct for salt, add the Italian parsley and serve within 30 minutes.

Note: If you do not eat pasta, make this salad with millet, quinoa, barley, farro, or whatever grain you prefer. You can also simply omit it and add kernels from a fourth ear of corn.


Blue cheese is traditional in a classic chopped salad, and you should use it if you like it. If you don’t, we have many delicious local options. Feta cheese is good in this dish, as is farmers cheese, goat cheese, and sheep’s milk cheese.

Chopped salad makes a great dinner on a hot night and is also a welcome addition to potlucks and buffers. You can vary it based on what you have on hand.

Use lettuce instead of arugula, add cucumbers and green beans, replace the pear with melon or apple, the salmon with cooked chicken or pork and omit the meats entirely if you are vegetarian.

Just be certain to prepare each individual ingredient so that it tastes delicious on its own before you build the salad.

Early Fall Chopped Salad

Makes 6 to 8 servings

— Lemon Citronette (recipe follows)

3-4 large handfuls of small-leaf arugula

— Kosher salt

1 small red onion, peeled and cut into small dice

3-4 medium-small beets, roasted, peeled and cut into 3/8-inch dice

6 ounces cheese (see Note below), torn, crumbled or cubed

3-4 small heirloom tomatoes, cored and cut into 1/2 inch dice

2-3 medium bell peppers or poblano chiles, roasted, peeled, seeded and cut into medium julienne

1 cup smoked wild Pacific King salmon, torn into small pieces

2 firm ripe pears, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2 inch dice

3/4 cup lightly toasted walnut pieces

— Black pepper in a mill

6 bacon slices, fried until crisp, drained and chopped

3 hard-cooked eggs from pastured hens, peeled and sieved or grated

3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley

First, make the citronette (recipe below) and set it aside.

Put the arugula on a large serving platter, sprinkle salt on top and toss lightly. Spread it evenly over the platter. Scatter the onion over the arugula.

Arrange the beets, cheese, peppers, tomatoes, salmon, pear and walnuts in separate rows on top of the arugula and onions. Season lightly with salt and grind black pepper over everything.

Drizzle the lemon vinaigrette on top, followed by the bacon.

Working quickly, put the sieved or grated eggs and parsley into a bowl, season with salt and pepper, toss lightly and scatter over the salad.

Set the platter on the table so that guests can enjoy its appearance. When it is time to serve it, use two forks or salad servers to toss gently and transfer to individual plates or bowls.

Lemon Citronette

Makes about 3/4 cup

1 small shallot

1-2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

— Kosher salt

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon snipped fresh chives

— Black pepper in a mill

Put the shallot, garlic and lemon zest in a mixing bowl or small, wide-mouthed Mason jar.

Add the lemon juice and let sit for 15 to 20 minutes.

Season generously with salt, add the olive oil and either mix with a fork or small whisk or seal the jar and shake it vigorously.

Add the chives, season generously with black pepper, taste and correct for salt as needed.

The dressing can be served immediately but may be refrigerated for up to 2 days.

Michele Anna Jordan is the author of 24 books to date, including “Vinaigrettes and Other Dressings.” Email her at

Please read our commenting policy
  • No profanity, abuse, racism, hate speech or personal attacks on others.
  • No spam or off-topic posts. Keep the conversation to the theme of the article.
  • No disinformation about current events. Claims of "Fake News" will be delayed for moderation
  • No name calling. "Orange Menace", "Libtards", etc. are not respectful.
Send a letter to the editor

Our Network

Sonoma Index-Tribune
Petaluma Argus Courier
North Bay Business Journal
Sonoma Magazine
Bite Club Eats
La Prensa Sonoma
Emerald Report
Spirited Magazine