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 | By Michelle DiFranco

St. Luke’s Little Summer Salad

I love summer, but in Michigan, by mid-August, I’m over the humidity and ready to embrace autumn. That’s right, goodbye air conditioning and hello colorful foliage, pumpkin spice lattes and apple-picking. There is absolutely no reason not to love the fall season!

Well, except for one thing … the nights gradually get colder to the point I have to turn the furnace on. I dread the long months of winter that lie ahead. Fall is fantastic. Winter can be brutal.

But even in late fall when the evening frosts have arrived, there is a ray of hope and …. sunshine that returns. We are all familiar with that brief, warm and dry period of gorgeous weather that arrives after the first cold nights have set in. You know, the one most of us refer to as Indian summer? Well, I recently learned something about that late warm spell that I found interesting.

The short period of pleasant summer-like days that arrive before the coming of winter around St. Luke’s feast day (October 18) is known as “St. Luke’s Little Summer.” Many of us think of that period as an Indian summer, but according to the Old Farmers’ Almanac, an Indian summer occurs between November 11 and 20.

How nice to think that one of our holy saints in heaven can be associated with gorgeous days to enjoy before winter sets in! And it’s only fitting. Luke, one of the four evangelists and author of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, often wrote about God’s mercy. His Gospel is referred to as “The Gospel of Mercy,” and the warm spell that bears his name feels like mercy after the first taste of frosty weather reminds us of the cold that is to come with winter.

To me the fall, and St Luke’s Little Summer, is the finest of seasons. It’s about harvesting and provisioning the bounty of the earth that has been growing and accumulating throughout the summer. I love salads, especially ones that include apples, pecans, and other ingredients that we associate with the fall. This St Luke’s Little Summer salad is healthy and delicious any time of year, but to enjoy it when its ingredients are in season makes it better.

So as the cooler autumn temps arrive reminding us of the winter that is to come, keep an eye out for a warmer October day to commemorate St. Luke’s Little Summer with a reading from his Gospel, some gratitude for our Lord’s mercy and a salad that includes the best produce of the season!

St. Luke’s Little Summer Salad

  • 8-10 cups mixed greens
  • Red onion (thinly sliced)
  • 2 medium crisp apples (1 sweet and 1 tart)
  • ½ cup gorgonzola cheese
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • ½ cup chopped pecan halves
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon


  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3-4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the candied pecans, melt butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Toss in the pecans, brown sugar and cinnamon. Stir to combine and coat until sugar begins to caramelize (3-4 minutes). Spread candied pecans on a wax paper or parchment lined baking sheet to cool.

Combine the ingredients for the dressing and place in fridge until ready to use. 

In a large bowl toss greens, red onions, apples, gorgonzola cheese, cranberries and candied pecans. Toss with dressing when ready to serve.