Delicious Thanksgiving Salads That Deserve a Place at the Feast
There comes a moment each year, while planning Thanksgiving dinner, that we realize we need to put the brakes on for a moment. We've got everybody's favorite dishes on the menu: all those rich, nostalgic must haves. But we've forgotten to factor in freshness, brightness, and crunch. Too often the holiday sideboard is laden with dishes of similar textures—sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, stuffing, purées. Not to mention the vegetables we all know (and sometimes love); Brussels sprouts, green beans, onions, squash—most of which are roasted until tender, creamed, sauced, or otherwise softened.
When we plan any meal, texture and color should always be considered, but because Thanksgiving is so indulgent, it might just be the time we need it the most. And because this gathering is so festive, it's an opportunity to really make a splash. That's why we're proponents of bringing on the salad. Just make sure it's not the usual green leafy version, and avoid using any out-of-season tomatoes here. Our tables should embrace the flavors of autumn and showcase all of its beautiful colors. To do so, whip up dishes that feature the rusts, golds, and reds so evocative of fall—the tastiest way to do so is with beets, persimmons, pomegranates, pears, radicchio, and even squash, as shown here.
At any celebration of thanks, our own health and that of the ones we love is something to be grateful for. With that in mind, let's honor the deep, leafy greens of the autumn, the cruciferous vegetables that surprise us when—instead of roasting or steaming—thinly sliced and served raw. Also to be thanked are all the nuts and seeds that can be toasted and chopped, the juicy apples, the puckery grapes. Salads allow us to present them all in refreshing ways; to bring a cornucopia to this, our most bountiful table.
Kale Slaw with Red Cabbage and Carrots
Crunchy and fresh, this colorful salad is autumnal yet light. The combination of pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and hemp seeds add wholesome protein.
Mixed Chicories with Persimmons
Fennel and Endive Salad with Pomegranate Seeds and Walnuts
A vision of understated elegance, this salad is crisp, refreshing, and beautiful.
Farro Salad with Oven-Roasted Grapes and Autumn Greens
The chewy, nutty Italian grain farro is the base of this salad. Concord grapes, grown in hardy Northern regions across America, are named for the New England town where they originated. When roasted, they release their fragrant and flavorful juice. Purple table grapes could be substituted but seek out other heirloom grapes if you can. Mixed peppery greens are tossed in just before serving.
Green Bean Salad with Almonds
Dungenesss Crab Salad
Dungeness crab season begins in mid-November and lasts until spring in the North West, that's reason enough to celebrate. This colorful salad makes a fitting holiday starter.
Shaved Kohlrabi and Arugula Salad with Chunky Pimenton Dressing
A robust, Spanish-influenced garlic and smoked pepper dressing is an earthy counterpoint to crunchy, cool kohlrabi. If you have a mandoline, this is the time to use it. It's easy to roast the two heads of garlic used in this dressing while your oven is on for turkey or other dishes.
Raw Swiss Chard, Cabbage, and Brussels Sprout Salad
These thinly sliced hearty greens tossed in a mustardy dressing are not simply a slaw. Shavings of Pecorino Romano cheese, a hint of soy sauce, and toasted walnuts all up the umami, transforming them into a savory and filling dish.
Pear Salad with Bacon and Sherry Vinaigrette
A savory fall salad that features pears two ways: Bartlett or Comice pear halves are roasted and fresh, juicy Asian pear is grated into the vinaigrette. Warm bacon pieces and shavings of Manchego cheese top it all off deliciously.
Persimmons and Roasted Chicories with Shallot Vinaigrette
When roasted, radicchio, endive, and other chicories soften and sweeten lightly. Here they create a stunning autumn bed for persimmons, olives, and pomegranate seeds. Fuyu persimmons should be bought firm and sliced just before serving.
Marinated Cauliflower Salad
Similar to Italian marinated vegetable dishes, blanched cauliflower is tossed with capers and a piquant vinaigrette for this salad. It can be made a day before Thanksgiving and, as well as making an excellent side dish, would be a lovely addition to an antipasto platter.
Roasted Beet Salad with Blue Cheese
The entire beet gets used in this colorful cooked salad. Red and golden beets are roasted to tender sweetness while their greens are sautéed with garlic. Arrange them together on a platter, and sprinkle with toasted pecans and blue cheese.