~ A refreshing fruit and nut salad with a luscious Greek yogurt dressing. Filled with hearty grains and loaded with protein, and so quick and easy! It’s perfect at summer picnics, but also at fall potlucks and Thanksgiving … delicious as an exciting twist on overnight oats, but also a substantial make-ahead lunchbox salad or mid-afternoon snack. Seriously great anytime, all year long! ~
This Recipe Is: • Ready in 30 Minutes or Less • Make Ahead • Vegetarian •
It all began with our Healthy Sugared-Vanilla Yogurt Fruit Dip. It’s been a total runaway smash hit – one of the all-time most popular recipes we’ve ever posted.
It’s so good … you might kinda want to bathe in it, ya know? Or, well … since that might be weird (and pretty messy), it makes perfect sense to just bathe any and all fruit in it … whenever possible. Yum!
In my mind’s eye (really – why do people say that?), I could picture exactly how I wanted this to go, exactly what I wanted to eat next … that awesome fruit dip could be turned into a magnificently creamy dressing for a fruit, nut and hearty whole-grain salad. Mmmmmmm …
Yes! I wanted to eat that!
So, I made it! And I was sooooo happy I did!
I ate this all last summer (and I’ve honestly got more of it stashed in my fridge at this very moment). I truly do love this fruit salad!
Refreshing, juicy grapes … crisp-tart, crunchy apples … a warm hint of cinnamon … plus caramel-y dates and flavorfully tangy cranberries. My, oh my! Add bits of walnuts and hearty grains, and you’ve got a salad that’s as vibrantly delicious as it is hearty, nutritious and filling. It’s outstanding!
The only problem here is that I can’t really tell you WHEN to eat it.
You know … in recipe posts, food bloggers often make little suggestions about how their recipe is perfect at a picnic, or for a quick breakfast, or as a side dish … those little tips to help you visualize when you might want to make the recipe.
Yeah. I’ve got nothin’ here.
This recipe is too versatile – I really just have to tell you to make it ANYTIME. Not helpful, I know, but that’s the honest-to-goodness truth.
Love overnight oats? Then this will rock your world! It’s less about the grains and more about the fruit, but if you love the ease of overnight oatmeal recipes, this is gonna shoot right to the top of your “to-die-for” list.
Want a refreshing change-of-pace way to serve up a fruit salad for a summer picnic? Even though it’s loaded with fall flavors like cinnamon, apples and cranberries, this recipe has so much summery-ness from the grapes, that it’s totally at home on a picnic buffet. Those burstingly sweet grapes are truly refreshing on a warm summer day!
And for fall … eat this all day long, friends!
Wow people at Thanksgiving with a hearty, unique side dish that combines apples and cranberries in a lively way that really wakes up any traditional Thanksgiving spread!
I think you see what I mean.
I absolutely eat this for breakfast, for lunch, and for snacks. And for a side dish at dinner. (Told ya it’s perfect for anytime!)
All day. All year.
You can’t go wrong!
Bonus? It keeps spectacularly well for several days! You’ll be sneaking little bowlfuls all week long. Actually, after a day or two, the dates start to magically meld with the vanilla dressing, heightening the caramel-y notes. Seriously good stuff, even five days later. (Believe me … I tested that for you! I know, I know … poor me, right?!? So hard having to taste-test delicious food!)
Double-bonus? It’s uber-healthy, too! (But of course! This is THK! 😀 ) Sure, it’s fully loaded with an abundance of nutritious fruits, but it’s also got a nice little hit of protein (hello, Greek yogurt!) and all that whole-grain fiber to keep you full longer.
Uh-huh … the wonderfulness of this salad is kinda boundless. I’m so not kidding!
So, let’s talk for just a moment about the whole grains here. You want to use a really hearty grain, with a substantial presence and a chewy nuttiness that’s somehow just perfect in this salad. My taste testers loved both farro and freekeh, and really couldn’t pick a winner, so go with whichever you prefer … or what you’ve got on hand.
Farro is an ancient grain that’s often traced back to Egypt and Rome. It’s common in Italian cooking, and you may sometimes mistakenly hear it called spelt, although the two are actually not the same. It’s got a healthy dose of both protein and fiber, plus loads of other nutritious goodies.
If you read our post on What is Freekeh? (And How Do You Cook It?), then you know that freekeh is also an ancient grain, tracing its origins back to the Middle East. It’s sold both as cracked and as whole-grain, and it’s absolutely loaded with fiber and protein (even more of both than quinoa … no kidding!). To find out more about freekeh and how to prepare both the cracked and whole varieties (it’s super-easy, I promise), just click here.
Bottom line: this fruit salad is pretty fantastic any time of day, any day of the year! It’s the perfect thing to keep in your fridge to nibble on all week long, but it’ll also be a superstar on any buffet table or picnic spread.
It’s easy, it’s healthy … it’s really just awesome!
Looking for more hearty salads? Be sure to try our …
- Kale Chopped Salad with Berries and Freekeh (or Quinoa)
- Easy, Healthy Chicken Salad with Quinoa, Tomatoes, Lemon and Basil
- Corn, Edamame and Quinoa Salad with Lemon-Dijon Vinaigrette
- Citrus Quinoa and Chickpea Salad
- Mediterranean Confetti Quinoa Salad
- 2 sweet-tart apples (such as Pink Lady or Honeycrisp), cored and chopped to equal about 3 1/2 cups
- 3 cups green grapes, halved (or quartered if the grapes are very large)
- 3 cups red grapes, halved (or quartered if the grapes are very large)
- 2 cups cooked farro or freekeh (see note)
- 1 1/3 cups chopped dates
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- 1 cup nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt
- 1/4 cup packed brown sugar (see note)
- 2 tablespoons water
- 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- In a large bowl, combine apples, grapes, farro (or freekeh), dates, walnuts, and cranberries.
- In a medium bowl, combine yogurt, sugar, water, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt, stirring to combine thoroughly.
- Pour dressing over fruit and nut mixture, stirring again to combine.
- Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate until serving.
Farro and freekeh: Cook grains according to manufacturer's directions on package. To yield 2 cups of cooked grains for this recipe, you will need about ⅔ cup of uncooked grains. Manufacturers vary in how much water they will tell you to use for cooking, as some companies expect all the water will be absorbed during cooking, while other companies have you drain off the excess water after cooking. In our tests, we found that it worked to cook ⅔ cup of either grain in 2 cups of water, draining the excess water after cooking.
Brown sugar: Different brands of vanilla Greek yogurt vary significantly in the amount of sugar they contain and how sweet or tart they taste, which can cause variances in how much brown sugar you'll want to add to this recipe. We find that ¼ cup of brown sugar in this recipe is a good middle ground, but you can certainly adjust that slightly according to your tastes and how sweet or tart your vanilla Greek yogurt is.
Make-ahead tips: To make this salad even easier to throw together, you can cook the grains, and also mix up the dressing ingredients, a day or two ahead of time. Cover both and refrigerate separately until finishing the recipe. Also, as we noted in the post, this salad keeps beautifully in the refrigerator for several days. The dates will become a bit less prominent and meld with the sauce to make it more caramel-y, but either freshly made or refrigerated ahead of time, it's delicious and vibrant.