Autumn Salmon Salad with Honey-Apple Cider Vinaigrette


Autumn Salmon Salad with Honey-Apple Cider Vinaigrette is fresh and filling.

Since I write about food, people always joke that they’re nervous to cook for me, or apologize for something not being “fancy” enough, but the real story is that there is NOTHING I love more than being cooked for, and homey, non-fussy dishes are truly the way to this girl’s heart.

As evidenced by the true joy I felt while inhaling boxed macaroni & cheese with sliced apples for dinner a la Ben last night.

Anyway, that said I was overjoyed to be totally spoiled by my Mother-in-Law’s cooking last week. In between enjoying homemade pasta bakes, roast turkey and mashed potatoes, breakfast casseroles, and lots of yummy treats, we also went out for a few meals while in DC.

One of the most memorable was an Autumn Salmon Salad I ordered from one of our favorite watering holes on Capitol Hill, the Corner Bar at Old Ebbitt Grill

Before sitting down to dinner and drinks at Old Ebbitt, Ben’s parents took us all out to see A Christmas Carol at Ford’s Theater a few blocks away. Ford’s theater is a wonderfully historic point of interest in DC – it’s where President Lincoln was shot and killed while taking in a play on the night of April 14, 1865.

I had never seen the play (I know) and, even though it was a couple days past Christmas, I will never turn down an opportunity to see live theater. It always makes me wish I was more outgoing and could, well, act, because it looks like so much fun!

We arrived for the play a little early, and headed down to the basement of the theater to check out its museum, which displays the gun that John Wilkes Booth used to shoot President Lincoln. It was so surreal! I’m sure the gun is a facsimile, as most museum objects are in DC, but still – unsettling. 

Soon the theater doors opened, and the crowds flooded in. The theater was much smaller than I thought it would be but very grand and, again, it was just so surreal knowing that our late President once sat no more than 50 yards away up in the balcony (which was blocked off – I went up and tried to peek in…!)

The play went off without a hitch, and I’m glad I finally got to see the whole thing – live, no less. The 2 hours went very quickly!

We filed out into the street, stopping to peek at the boarding house across the street where the President was taken after the shooting, and later died. After a pause we headed onwards – off to Old Ebbitt Grill!

Old Ebbitt Grill is yards away from the White House, and right across the street from the US Treasury Building. It’s a hot spot for tourists and locals alike, and has great energy (as does all of Capitol Hill, if you ask me. I’m obsessed.)

Right inside the doors is a fancy(er) dining room, but the past couple times we’ve been to Old Ebbitt, we’ve drank and dined at the Corner Bar within the restaurant. It’s dark wood paneling and decoy decor make it feel wonderfully cozy, and intimate. I didn’t get a good picture, but it was all done up for Christmas while we were there, making our experience feel extra festive! (photo)

Old Ebbitt, like many restaurants in DC, specializes in seafood – especially oysters. The table ordered a few on the half shell to share – I played photographer, rather than participant!

I know – LAME – it’s just that I have texture issues. It’s the unknown “PoP” of whatever it is (the head? brains?) that weirds me out – same with mussels. Regardless, I had to look up on my iPhone the proper way to eat an oyster for the boys, who eventually inhaled them.

First use the tiny fork that accompanies the oysters to make sure the oyster is not stuck to the shell. Then adorn your oyster with your toppings of choice – fresh lemon, cocktail sauce, vinegar, etc. Finally, slide the oyster into your mouth then give it a good chew or two, and swallow. BAAAHAHAHA I CAN’T EVEN!! Someday.

Luckily Old Ebbitt and I were on the same page regarding my dinner plans. I walked in craving a salmon salad, and guess what was listed first under entree salads? Autumn Salmon Salad. Yes!

Cold lettuce tossed with sweet apples, chewy dried cranberries, crunchy walnuts, and sliced beets, topped with seasoned, sauteed salmon. The. Best. I knew after licking every last drop off my plate that I’d be recreating at home, with a twist!

I kept the lettuce, salmon, dried cranberries, apples, and walnuts, then added crispy pear, and perfectly roasted red beets, which almost turned out like beet croutons. Then I drizzled homemade Honey-Apple Cider Vinaigrette over the whole thing. It was MAGIC.

Start the Autumn Salmon Salad with Honey-Apple Cider Vinaigrette with the roasted beets. Typically when roasting beets you wrap them in foil and roast whole.

I wanted a more caramelized texture and flavor for my beets though, so I peeled 3 medium-sized beets with a vegetable peeler then chopped them into 1/2″ cubes. You can wear gloves while doing this – my hands got a little pink, but only just a little.

Place the chopped beets onto a foil-lined, non stick-sprayed baking sheet, then toss with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast for 40-50 minutes at 400 degrees, or until they’re tender and caramelized. These were honest to goodness the best beets I’ve ever had. Much better than the slightly slimy sliced version!

K. While the beets are doin’ their thang, get the homemade Honey-Apple Cider Vinaigrette ready. This dressing is so refreshing. I can’t wait to make it all summer long.

Start by combining 6 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a jar with a tight fitting lid, with 1/4 cup honey. TIP: use the same measuring device for the honey as you do the oil, which will coat it and cause the honey to slip right out.

Next add the juice of 1 lemon and 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar.

Finally, add a dash of onion powder, lots of salt and pepper, then shake to combine. YUM! Now set that aside.

Now turn your attention to the salmon. You’ll need one, 4oz filet per person. Brush both sides with extra virgin olive oil then season liberally with salt & pepper.  This is the same way I season chicken breasts, and it is seriously the best.

Place the salmon skin side down in an oil-brushed skillet over medium-high heat then cook for 3-4 minutes.

Flip the salmon then peel off the skin and cook for 1-2 more minutes. This method of cooking the salmon skin then peeling it off is MUCH easier than trying to get it off while raw!

Once the beets and salmon are cooked, pile some lettuce onto a couple plates, then top with sliced apples and pears. Sprinkle with walnut pieces and dried cranberries, then top with the salmon and beets. Drizzle on the homemade dressing to your heart’s desire, and dig in!

Autumn Salmon Salad with Honey-Apple Cider Vinaigrette

Serves 2


Autumn Salmon Salad with Honey-Apple Cider Vinaigrette is fresh, filling, and inspired by a salad from Old Ebbitt Grill in Washington DC.


  • 2 large beets
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • 2-4oz salmon filets
  • 8 cups chopped lettuce
  • 1 barlett pear, sliced
  • 1 apple, sliced
  • 1/4 cup walnut pieces
  • 1/4 cups dried cranberries
  • For the Honey-Apple Cider Vinaigrette:
    • 6 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • 1/4 cup honey
    • 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
    • juice of 1 lemon
    • dash of onion powder
    • salt & pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel then chop beets into 1/2" cubes and place onto a foil-lined baking sheet. Toss with extra virgin olive oil, and lots of salt and pepper, then roast for 40-50 minutes, or until tender. Set aside to cool slightly.
  2. Meanwhile, combine ingredients for Honey-Apple Cider Vinaigrette in a jar with a tight-fitting lid then shake to combine. Set aside. Brush salmon on both sides with extra virgin olive oil then season liberally with salt and pepper. Place in an olive oil-brushed skillet over medium-high heat, skin side down, then cook for 3-4 minutes. Flip, peel off skin, then cook for 1-2 more minutes. Remove to a plate and set aside.
  3. Divide lettuce, pear and apple slices, walnuts, and dried cranberries between two plates. Top each plate with cooked salmon and roasted beets then drizzle on dressing and serve.

This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats,


Ahhh, filling, yet light, and super fresh! If you don’t love salmon, definitely make this with chicken, shrimp, or even pork.

And let’s not forget that homemade dressing, either. Say it with me now – spoon-drink worthy! 

Ok friends – off to savor the final day of 2012! Are you doing anything fun tonight? Ben and I have dinner reservations, then we’re heading off to a friends house to cheers to 2013. HAPPY NEW YEAR! Have fun and be safe (in that order!) ;)

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  1. Lauren 12.31.2012

    I absolutely love recreating restaurant-inspired meals at home. In fact, I think it has become a sick hobby of mine. This salad looks delish, and you know how I feel about salmon salads! :)

  2. Amy M 12.31.2012

    We are headed to Dos Rios and then on to a friend’s house!

    Beets are one of those foods I’m pretty sure I don’t like but haven’t tried in yeeears. Maybe I will try them again since most veggies are great roasted!

    • Iowa Girl Eats 12.31.2012

      Agreed – I don’t love them in the traditional sliced preparation, but roasting them cubed with olive oil was awesome! Have a blast tonight!

  3. I saw A Christmas Carol for the first time this year too! (also live) What a great story. Sounds like you had a great trip! Happy New Year!

  4. I love the addition of fruit to a salad. It is so simple, yet makes it seem so fancy.

    Happy NYE! :)

  5. What a pretty salad!! Will be making this ASAP….it’s been way too long since I’ve had salmon. Have a fabulous NYE!!

  6. Laura 12.31.2012

    Recipe looks great! Totally nitpicky… but the area in DC near Old Ebbit and the White House is called metro center, capitol hill is the neighborhood just east of the capitol building at the other side of the mall :)

  7. I’m loving any salad with apples, dried cranberries and walnuts this fall/winter, so this sounds amazing! My dad grows beets so I will have to get him to lend me some to try this roasting method too :D Happy new year!!

  8. Joanna 12.31.2012

    Yay for Christmas in DC! A Christmas Carol at Ford’s Theater is so great. My husband and I went on our Christmas date there a few years ago. It was my first (and only) show at Ford’s Theater and it’s such a cool one to see there. The period of the play fits perfectly with the feel of the theater I think.

    Happy New Year!

  9. I recently started liking seafood, and it all began with oysters, of all things. And to boot, I am a weirdo about certain textures and I just adore them!

  10. Gabby 12.31.2012

    Haha I’m loving your post about the oysters! I was the same way until my ENTIRE family tried them when we were in Destin, FL this past summer. I absolutely talked myself into it until I had it in my hand and it was giggling around and said NO WAY! After a couple of beers and more confidence, I finally tried one! It wasn’t as bad as I thought, but it’s not my first choice off the menu. Happy New Year’s!

  11. Gretchen 12.31.2012

    For years it was a tradition when I was a kid for our family to go see A Christmas Carol at Ford’s Theater every Christmas. Such great memories!

  12. karen 12.31.2012

    I am a beet freak! I am so excited to try them cut up and baked like that. I will probably eat them like popcorn. HaHa! I do have a question for you totally off topic though. Would you ever dip chocolate pita chips in a jar of melted imitation cheese sauce? I will not judge you no matter what your answer is and I will tell you why I am asking after you let me know. K? Thanks.

  13. JoAnn 01.01.2013

    I love that you shop at 2 of my favorite stores, Costco & Trader Joe’s.

  14. Oysters — yish. I feel the same. :) But this salmon salad is a different story… yummy!!

  15. This salad looks like an awesome and healthy way to bring in 2013! We celebrated with a night out on the town in Chicago last night – Hope you had a wonderful NYE!

  16. Chelsea 01.01.2013

    It’s so funny that you talked about how people are nervous to cook for you – my boyfriend is a professional cook, and the first meal I cooked for him – I was SO nervous! I don’t think I even ate any of it! Thanks for posting this recipe – it’ll be nice to get back to eating light and healthy after all the holiday comfort food.

  17. Diane 01.01.2013

    Finally! So happy to see oysters on your blog! One of my favorite foods (only east coast oysters, though). I felt exactly like you did until a few years ago and then tried them on a whim, thinking, well, I won’t die.” So sorry I waited until I was 50 to try them. Now I eat them every chance I get! Even got my sister to try them 2 nights ago, and she is now a fan, too! Love, love. Don’t wait to try them, Kristin! Ice cold w/lemon and cocktail sauce…heaven on a plate!

  18. What a creative combo! I’m not gonna lie, Kristin – I never would have thought of that, but this meal sounds delicious. Your salad dressings are always unreal, too – so I know I’ve got to give this a whirl :)

  19. what a great tip for getting the skin off of salmon, will definitely be using that!

  20. Kristina 01.02.2013

    I can’t eat squiggly gelatinous (i think that’s the first time I’ve ever typed the word “gelatinous”)things either. Except jello… and even that kind of weirds me out.

  21. Yay! I’ve been looking for a roasted beet salad that didn’t have goat cheese in it. FYI goat cheese tastes the way your hands smell after wrestling a goat and milking it.(goat cheese = goat teets) Don’t ask how I know this.

    • Iowa Girl Eats 01.02.2013

      Hahaha, too funny! I actually did buy chevre to put on top but I forgot to add it! ;)

  22. doreen 01.02.2013

    beets are roasting now. I bought golden beets by mistake, I am not a “beet person” but even only partially roasted they are tasting great. sadly I prepare all of this for my lunch at work tomorrow, so the beets and salmon will have to be reheated. but everything is going swimmingly, and cant wait to feast on this tomorrow. I even made enough to share…

  23. Jen 01.03.2013

    I ate my very first oyster at Old Ebbitt in December of 2011 and I have never looked back…. I love them! Old Ebbitt is my favorite restaurant anywhere, hands down!

  24. Kelly 01.05.2013

    Thanks Kristin for another magnificent meal :)
    5 of my top 10 favorites are from IGE (#1 Superfood salad…) The others are from LOVE you both! Thanks for keeping cooking for one fun :)

    • Kelly 01.05.2013

      PS it was 107degrees here yesterday – so I guess it’s not just an Autumn salad!

  25. Hannah Tighe 01.16.2013

    so i’m not a big beet fan. any suggestions for substitutes?

    • Iowa Girl Eats 01.17.2013

      Roasted sweet potatoes would actually be really good, or else you can just leave them out! :)

  26. Gerry 04.30.2013

    I’m not a fan of salmon, any substitute?

  27. Carissa 06.03.2013

    So I’m serving this for my Culinary Salad Exam, and the test plate I made was delicious :)

  28. […] Autumn Salmon Salad with Honey-Apple Cider Vinaigrette – I just want to point out the beautiful roasted beets in this salad. With or without the salmon, this one is definitely worth a try. […]

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  30. Toney 10.04.2013

    Always love your posts! This looks so good, thanks for posting it!


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