Harvest Salad with Green Apples and Meyer Lemon-Tahini Dressing

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I have a confession – I’m not a big salad lover. It’s just not my go-to. The salads I do like tend to be chopped vegetable salads with lots of texture and bold flavors. And that’s a great way to describe my Harvest Salad with Green Apples and Meyer Lemon-Tahini Dressing. 

This salad has an unbelievable texture and heartiness…even though there’s nothing heavy or unhealthy in it. The tart green apples, crispy spiced chickpeas, sunflower kernels, and hearty greens are blended perfectly by a creamy, tangy dressing made with tahini and Meyer lemon juice.

You can absolutely use grocery store produce (I have!), and the salad will be delicious. But, this is The Fruit Grove, and we’re all about homegrown fruit. Why not explore the possibility of growing your own apples and/or lemons in your backyard?

Growing Apples the Small-Space Way

The fruit heroes in this recipe are of course the apples and the Meyer lemon in the dressing (more info on Meyer lemons below). As far as the apples go, any tart green apple will do in this recipe, such as the easy-to-find Granny Smith. 

If you’ve ever wondered whether you can grow your own apples in a limited space, wonder no more! The easy way to grow apples in any size garden is by training the tree as an espalier.

What is espalier? It’s training a tree – most often a fruit tree – to grow flat against a wall or fence. The training is done in such a way that the tree stays smaller but still fruits prolifically. It may sound a little intimidating, but it’s actually easier than you think!

Training an espalier apple tree does take time, however. It’s done over the course of a few years, but once the shape is established it’s easy to maintain. Best of all, an espalier fruit tree is a major conversation piece in the garden!

Check out the video below where I show exactly how to start your own espalier apple tree, including choosing the right apple varieties, building the trellis, and pruning through the first growing season.

Meyer Lemons vs. “Regular” Lemons

A Meyer lemon is actually a hybrid between a lemon and a tangerine. They are one of the best lemon trees to grow in containers since they stay relatively small but grow tons of fruit. The newer version, ‘Improved Meyer’, is even more disease resistant.

Meyer lemons are sweeter and less acidic than other lemons. When you allow them to ripen fully on the tree, the rinds and pith are very thin, and the fruit is extremely juicy. 

My 3-year old ‘Improved Meyer’ lemon tree, full to bursting with ripening lemons.

I chose Meyer lemon for this dressing recipe so there would still be a lemony brightness, but with a little less intensity. (And, in all honesty, because my Meyer lemons were ripe while I was developing it!) I think the Meyer lemon blends perfectly with the creamy tahini and shallots.

Can I substitute regular lemon in the dressing?

Absolutely! Meyer lemons and regular lemons can generally be used interchangeably in recipes, and since Meyer lemons can be harder to find in stores, go ahead and use any regular lemon.

Just be aware that the lemon flavor will be more pronounced, and the dressing will be a little more tangy with regular lemons. But still delicious!

Recipe instructions:

Step 1: Make the Dressing

I suggest making the salad dressing the day before – the flavor improves when everything has a chance to sit together (but it’s also great the day of). Combine all the dressing ingredients except for the water (tahini, lemon juice, oil, shallot, honey, salt) and mix until smooth. 

Add in water a tablespoon at a time until the dressing is your preferred consistency. Refrigerate until you’re ready to assemble the salad.

Step 2: Make the Crispy Chickpeas

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Drain and rinse the chickpeas, then dry them thoroughly between paper towels. The drier they are, the crispier they will be. Mix the chickpeas with the oil, paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper, then spread them on a baking sheet. Roast for about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring halfway through. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Step 3: Assemble the Salad

Place the thin sliced kale in a large bowl and add a pinch of salt. Massage the kale between your fingers to soften it. The kale should end up dark green and a little shiny. Don’t skip this step – the texture of raw kale can be a little tough, and this tenderizes it.

Add the shaved apples, sliced cabbage, roasted chickpeas, and sunflower kernels to the kale and toss to combine. Pour on about 2/3 of the dressing and mix well. Add more dressing if desired. Put the dressed salad in a serving bowl or dish (if you’re using a different one) and sprinkle the pomegranate arils on top.

Since this salad uses heartier greens, it actually stays good for a couple of days in the refrigerator. The greens may soften a little, but it stays crisp and delicious. If you want it to last even longer, mix the salad ingredients together without the dressing and store in the fridge, and add in the dressing before serving.

Harvest Salad with Green Apples and Meyer Lemon-Tahini Dressing

This hearty fall salad combines kale, shredded cabbage, shaved green apples, crispy spiced chickpeas, and roasted sunflower kernels, tossed with a creamy and tangy Meyer Lemon-Tahini Dressing. Serve it as a Thanksgiving side, or make a whole meal of it!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Salad, Side Dish
Servings 8


  • Mandolin (optional)
  • Sheet pan
  • Colander



  • 1 Granny Smith apple or other tart green apple, shaved on a mandolin or very thinly sliced
  • 1/2 bunch of kale de-stemmed and chopped (about 4 cups)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 head of green cabbage thinly shredded (about 2-3 cups)
  • 1/4 cup roasted sunflower kernels or pepitas
  • Pomegranate arils optional

Crispy Chickpeas:

  • 1 14-oz. can chickpeas
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper

Meyer Lemon-Tahini Dressing:

  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • ¼ cup fresh Meyer lemon juice or regular lemon, from about 2 lemons
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil
  • 1 small shallot minced
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1-2 tablespoons water


  • Make the crispy chickpeas. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Drain and rinse the chickpeas then pat completely dry with a paper towel. In a medium bowl, mix the chickpeas with 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil and the paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
    Spread the chickpeas in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes, stirring halfway through, until golden brown and crisp. Set aside to cool.
  • Prepare the dressing. Mix all the dressing ingredients together (except the water) in a bowl and whisk until smooth and combined. Whisk in the water one tablespoon at a time to thin to the desired consistency. Set aside.
  • Make the salad. In a large bowl, add the kale and a pinch of salt. Massage the kale between your fingers until it is tenderized and slightly glossy. Add in the shredded cabbage, shaved apples, crispy chickpeas, and sunflower kernels. Mix well. Add the dressing and toss to combine (*see Notes).
  • Serve the salad in a wide bowl with pomegranate arils sprinkled on top (optional).


  • *I only used about 2/3 of the dressing recipe for this salad, but add as much or as little as you like to your taste.
  • I highly recommend making the dressing ahead of time. Not only is it easier, but the flavor gets better over time. I made the dressing the night before I planned to serve the salad, and it was even more delicious the next day.
Keyword apple, chickpeas, christmas, fall, garbanzo beans, harvest, lemon, meyer lemon, pomegranate, salad, sunflower kernels, tahini, thanksgiving

Dianna Grabowski

Dianna is a gardener and professional singer living in East Texas. After discovering her latent green thumb, she now has over 10 years of practical gardening experience. Dianna founded The Fruit Grove in 2022 as a way to expand and share her knowledge and love of growing fresh fruit. Learn more about Dianna.

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