In this fall-inspired salad, we take the season's bounty and pile it high. Two important take-aways: 1) The pecan vinaigrette is so good you'll want to make it all the time and use it everywhere-- nonvertical salads included. 2) Massaging hearty green to tenderize them works on more than just kale, as these collards make clear. Sweet potato chips stand in for croutons and add the perfect amount of crunch.
A straight-sided 3-quart tall glass bowl or four 16-ounce wide-mouth glass jars with lids
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the pecans out on a rimmed baking sheet, and roast until golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool, and roughly chop. Turn the oven up to 425 degrees F.
Transfer the pecans to a medium bowl. Add 1/3 cup of the vinegar, the mustard, honey, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of black pepper, and whisk to combine. Slowly drizzle in the oil, whisking constantly, until blended into a vinaigrette.
Spread the squash out on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the pecan vinaigrette, sprinkle with a large pinch of salt and toss to combine. Roast until the squash is fork-tender and browned in spots, 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool. (The squash can be made and refrigerated up to 2 days ahead.)
Meanwhile, combine the quinoa and 1 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer, cover, adjust the heat to medium-low and cook until all the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool in the pan. (The quinoa can be made and refrigerated up to 2 days ahead.)
Put the collards in a medium bowl, and add the remaining 3 tablespoons vinegar and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Rub the vinegar and salt into the collards, and let sit until the greens are tender, about 30 minutes, tossing and massaging again about halfway through.
Combine the goat cheese, parsley and piquante peppers in a small bowl.
Using a straight-sided 3-quart tall glass bowl for 1 large salad or four 16-ounce wide-mouth glass jars for 4 individual salads, make a first layer with the quinoa, then add the following in separate layers: half the collard greens, the roasted squash, the goat cheese mixture, the apples, the ham, and the remaining collard greens. Top with the sweet potato chips. (The salad, except for the chips, can be put together, covered and refrigerated up to 2 hours ahead; top with the chips right before serving.)
If making 1 salad, just before serving, transfer it to a large bowl, toss with the remaining pecan vinaigrette and season with salt and pepper. If making 4 salads, add vinaigrette to each jar, season with salt and pepper, cover with the lid and shake to coat.
To achieve pretty, defined layers, be sure to layer more on the sides. It's OK if there isn't enough of an ingredient to fill the middle.