The Forest Feast: Savoring the Flavors and Colors of Fall

The Forest Feast: Savoring the Flavors and Colors of Fall | © #recipes #fall

I’m savoring the flavors and colors of fall,

joining The Novel Bakers for

The Forest Feast by Erin Gleeson.

There was plenty to tempt my taste buds in The Forest Feast along with inspiration for a little foraging outdoors, enjoying the fleeting fall color before the arrival of the artic blast.

The Forest Feast

I took a few liberties with a couple of The Forest Feast recipes for novel baking this week. The first recipe that caught my eye was a Butternut Caprese Salad, a fall and California twist on the Italian classic!

Butternut Caprese Salad | © #recipes #fall

Butternut squash, mozzarella (smoked or regular), grape or cherry tomatoes, basil, and avocado for a little buttery and creamy flavor and texture.

Butternut Caprese Salad Ingredients

Cube and roast your butternut squash at 425 degrees with some olive oil, salt and pepper for 20 – 25 minutes. Allow to cool.

Butternut Caprese

Arrange tomatoes, cheese, chopped basil, butternut, and avocado on a serving platter, sprinkle with desired amount of salt and pepper.

My Southern twist on a California version of this Italian classic, was the addition of a hot bacon dressing, which I’m pretty sure is a no-no with a vegetarian cookbook and recipe. . .but everything is better with bacon :)

Butternut Caprese Salad | © #recipes #fall

Hot Bacon Dressing

4  – 6 bacon slices, coarsely chopped

3  Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

 kosher salt

 freshly ground black pepper

Butternut Caprese Salad | © #recipes #fall

Saute bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove from heat, reserving bacon and 2 Tbsp. drippings in skillet. Let stand 1 minute. Add vinegar and oil, stirring to loosen browned bits from bottom of skillet. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. kosher salt and 1/2 tsp. black pepper. Drizzle warm bacon mixture over salad.

Butternut Caprese Salad | © #recipes #fall

Serve immediately.

Beautiful colors and flavors for fall!

Butternut Caprese Salad with Hot Bacon Dressing

Fans of butternut squash will love this fall twist on the classic Caprese Salad.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time25 minutes
Total Time40 minutes
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Keyword: avocado, bacon dressing, butternut squash, caprese salad, fall salad
Servings: 8 servings



  • 1 medium butternut squash peeled, cut into 1-inch cubes, roasted
  • 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes sliced in half
  • 1 ripe avocado cubed or sliced
  • 1 cup mozzarella cubed
  • 1/4 cup basil leaves chopped or torn


  • 4 - 6 bacon slices coarsely chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper



  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • Toss cubes with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast on a baking sheet for 20 – 25 minutes. Allow to cool.


  • Saute bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove from heat, reserving bacon and 2 Tbsp. drippings in skillet. Let stand 1 minute.
  • Add vinegar and oil, stirring to loosen browned bits from bottom of skillet. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. kosher salt and 1/2 tsp. black pepper. Drizzle warm bacon mixture over salad. Serve immediately.


  • Most grocery stores sell butternut squash already cubed which cuts down on prep time and saves you the challenging step of peeling and cutting your butternut squash.
  • Adjust quantities to taste. Butternut squash may be roasted ahead of time and refrigerated until ready to assemble. Wait and cut avocado right before serving salad to prevent avocado from turning brown.


Butternut Caprese Salad A fall twist on the classic Italian caprese salad with some Southern flavor~ Hot Bacon Dressing! © #fall #salad #butternutsquash #bacon #caprese

The other recipe that caught my eye was a Winter Citrus Sangria,

a red wine sangria with brandy, orange juice and assorted citrus fruits.


With Thanksgiving and the holidays on the horizon, I mixed up a fall batch of sangria, you can serve your guests or family for easy entertaining.

 Pomegranate and Pear Sangria | © #recipes #fall #cocktail

 Pomegranate and Pear Sangria, delicious and beautiful!

A red wine is the base of this sangria but you could easily substitute a sparkling wine for the holidays.

Pomegranate and Pear Sangria | © #recipes #fall #cocktail

I used a handy Anatomy of Sangria chart, courtesy of Wine Enthusiast Magazine  for mixing my Pear and Pomegranate Sangria for a quick reference for easy mixing.

The sangria combinations are endless with this chart as a guideline. Pick and choose your mixers, fruit, juice, wine & liquor, adjusting the flavors and quantities to your taste.


Pomegranate and Pear Sangria | © #recipes #fall #cocktail

 I started with an inexpensive Pinot Noir since I was adding juice and mixers to it for this Thanksgiving version of sangria.


 Pomegranate and Pear Sangria


2 – 3 pears, sliced

Pomegranate Seeds

1 bottle Pinot Noir, or red wine of choice

1/2 cup Pomegranate Juice

1/2 cup Absolut Orient Apple Vodka

1 can Ginger Ale (I used diet) 


I used apple vodka with a hint of ginger flavor that I had a bottle from mixing my Apple Cider Sangria.


Slice pears and add to a large pitcher along with pomegranate seeds.

Pomegranate and Pear Sangria | © #recipes #fall #cocktail

Add wine, pomegranate juice and vodka. Refrigerate until serving, 1 – 2 hours or up to 24.

Pomegranate and Pear Sangria | © #recipes #fall #cocktail

Pomegranate and Pear Sangria | © #recipes #fall #cocktail

Just before serving, add chilled ginger ale to pitcher and mix well.

Pomegranate and Pear Sangria | © #recipes #fall #cocktail



Fill glasses half full with ice. Add sangria, sliced pears and pomegranate seeds to garnish glasses.





Pomegranate and Pear Sangria | © #recipes #fall #cocktail

Happy Sipping and Savoring!

Pomegranate and Pear Sangria

Pomegranate and Pear Sangria is as easy to mix as it is to drink! Perfect to mix up by the pitcher to serve for Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time2 hours
Total Time2 hours 10 minutes
Course: cocktail
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cocktail, fall, friendsgiving, pears, pomegranate, sangria, Thanksgiving
Servings: 6 servings


  • 2 - 3 pears sliced
  • Pomegranate Arils / Seeds
  • 1 bottle Pinot Noir or red wine of choice
  • 1/2 cup Pomegranate or Cranberry Juice
  • 1/2 cup Apple Vodka or vodka of choice
  • 1 can Ginger Ale  regular or diet


  • Slice pears and add to a large pitcher along with pomegranate seeds.
  • Add wine, pomegranate juice and vodka.
  • Refrigerate until serving, 1 – 2 hours or up to 24.
  • Just before serving, add chilled ginger ale to pitcher and mix well.
  • Fill glasses half full with ice.
  • Add sangria, sliced pears and pomegranate seeds / arils to glasses and serve.

Pomegranate and Pear Sangria | © #recipes #fall #cocktail

The Novel Bakers return on Friday, November 21st with more Forest Feast!


Autumn Pomegranate & Pear Sangria

Feast and sip with Jain and Michael Lee . . .

Jain, a quiet life

Michael Lee, Rattlebridge Farm

Pomegranate and Pear Sangria | © #recipes #fall #cocktail

Thank you for your visit, I’m joining:

 Metamorphosis Monday


  24 comments for “The Forest Feast: Savoring the Flavors and Colors of Fall

  1. November 19, 2014 at 6:40 am

    Good morning! What a cold start to a day in Florida, 32 degreese! Burr! Need hot sangria?? The pear sangria sounds good and festive for thanksgiving ! Thanks for sharing!

  2. November 19, 2014 at 7:29 am

    Oh you lucky girl, look at those gorgeous heirloom tomatoes! Everything looks beautiful Mary, the sangria sounds good too:@)

  3. November 19, 2014 at 8:09 am

    Perfect title, “Savoring the colors and flavors of fall!” My taste buds are stirred as is my fondness for the leaves and colors of pears, pomegranates, butternut squash, coleus, pansies and many others. Love your wall of urns filled with pumpkins, cabbages, squashes, berries, and pretty fall branches. I enjoyed the feast of all the senses this morning.

  4. November 19, 2014 at 8:23 am

    Oh Mary, you’re tempting us with more colorful photos of Fall scenery and flavors! I love your twist on the salad with the bacon dressing and the drink is a beauty that would tempt my taste buds.

  5. Lynette Forrest
    November 19, 2014 at 8:57 am

    This is my favorite new cookbook! ! I received the book as a gift this summer and I don’t recall ever staying with a new cookbook as steadily as I have this one. Erin has expanded my appreciation for fruits and veggies tenfold! I was delighted to see your feature!

  6. November 19, 2014 at 9:11 am

    Every day when I come and see your post I end up shaking my head in AWE at your talents! The sald sounds wonderful but bACON DRESSING, I am sure mAKES it! I am starving right now so my mouth is watering! The sangria looks fabulous too and you even have a leaf covered ice bucket! Wow, I loved this as I am almost done decorating for Christmas and it is 24 degrees outside. UGH! The colors are gorgeous that you shared today.

  7. November 19, 2014 at 9:14 am

    Gorgeous!! Emailing daughters in law right now to talk them into making salad for our turkey day!!

  8. November 19, 2014 at 10:07 am

    A Fall Fiesta of flavors Mary, and I do love your southern addition to the butternut caprese salad! The first thing that crossed my mind when I saw this mouthwatering platter of goodies, was, it sure would be good with some bacon! And the pear-pom sangria sounds like the perfect sipper for an autumn afternoon. Your garden wall of pumpkins and gourds is my favorite part, it looks effortless and natural, although I have a feeling every detail was set in place perfectly :) your vignettes are artistic perfection! It was 21 here this morning and no power! Yikes, it’s going to be a long winter! Stay cozy~

  9. Rattlebridge Farm
    November 19, 2014 at 10:07 am

    Mary, you have captured autumn at her finest moment. You have transported me into a realm so peaceful and alluring, I never want to leave. From the opening collage to the pumpkin vignettes to the helpful sangria chart to the spoonful of pomegranate seeds — just everything! — you’ve given me a mini-vacation, one that is filled with delicious smells, colors, and objects. I made the salad, too, and I’ve got to confess…in my six decades, I have never eaten a butternut squash, and I don’t think my mother fed it to me when I was an infant as baby food hadn’t been invented back then. :-) But I was an instant convert. I’ve been roasting the squash daily–it’s better than oven fries, which I adore. Who knew???? I’m writing down your bacon vinaigrette recipe. I am also going to look for the apple infused Absolut. It will be welcome at the Thanksgiving table, along with your sangria recipe. I just finished breakfast, miserly grapefruit and toast but I am craving warmth. I want to dive into your pictures. Loved playing with you today for the NB. xxoo

  10. November 19, 2014 at 11:06 am

    Perfection. You are amazing!

  11. November 19, 2014 at 11:42 am

    i looked at your pics at 2 am my time, awakened with rain, the first thing that crossed my mind was i did the non fiction boring version, you and ml did the spectacular fiction verson of this books, the romantic take me away moments spun into gorgeous glossy stories… i dozed back asleep thinking i look like i work for a dictionary. this is a salad, click, this is another salad… nope, your girls DAZZLED!

    woke up and played a little to long online without firing up the laptap, the place i come to try and type like an adult. opps, i lost my net during a huge down pour, the joys of satellite service, i forgot my outside connection to the world is weather related. i am back real quick now to try and get my comment in before i have to put on and suit and tie and take dull boring pics or industrial food…

    i adore your pics, the picture tutorial is genius in this series, i too did all the same thing, except mine looks like its been wiped down with clorox, you have soul~

    good thing you are serving liquor to numb my pain, plus i may just throw this in my menu plan for our get together this week… i am the only one that loves these kinds of drinks, but hey there is nothing wrong with sitting in the corner nursing my fruit cocktail!

    LOVED your magnificent take on this book, i keep shaking my head thinking why did i keep it so simple… i was thrilled it was a simple book that’s why! i thought it would be quick and easy… and it is and it was, thank heavens you made it a real story!

  12. November 19, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    There is so much in this glorious post I don’t know where to begin! I love Erin’s blog, I have to get this book! Your photos are incredible, and I feel as though I were right there with you enjoying this fabulous feast.

  13. November 19, 2014 at 11:17 pm

    Beautiful post, Mary. Echoing ML, you have captured autumn at her finest. Love the rock wall with the collection of urns and the bounty of autumn. Fabulous!

  14. November 21, 2014 at 7:37 am

    I can’t help but echo Jain’s thought…You gave it “soul”!!! Such gorgeous photos…they take my breath away, truly.
    I can’t wait to try the sangria …thank you for the chart, as I’ve saved it to my documents for future reference.

    I laughed at your addition of bacon. I’m sure it improved things…everything is better with BACON! It was a brilliant idea, another of which I’m stealing for future use.

    I sometimes come away feeling so inadequate when I see the marvelous things you create, Mary. It is pure joy to *see* the world through your eyes. I just wish I had a tenth of your talent to do that regularly.

  15. December 1, 2014 at 7:54 am

    What a lovely post! The Forest Feast is on my Christmas Wish List!


  16. November 1, 2015 at 7:06 pm

    The butternut caprese salad with the hot bacon dressing list the ingredients for the salad but not the amount of each one, I am making the salad for 8 guests. Help!!!

    • November 1, 2015 at 7:29 pm

      Hi, You can make this salad without worrying about measuring. Start with 1 avocado, 1 round of mozzarella (or tub of Bocconcini), a handful of cherry/grape tomatoes and some basil per 1 butternut squash. You can adjust to your taste and preference :)

  17. Michelle
    November 4, 2016 at 1:11 am

    Your photography is stunning!
    I love this cookbook and actually sold it where I work so I got to see the recipes up close. We also sold the kids version too!
    Super fun!

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