Why You Want to Be the Hero That Brings the Salad for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is not a day to worry about calories, your goal, or overall health, but it is a day that should include salad. Although I would be glad if we officially changed the name of the holiday to “Casserole Day”, believe me when I say that a good salad on this day is not only wanted, but also needed.

Good food – whether turkey-based or not – depends on the balance of flavor and texture. If your mouth is full of rich aroma, creamy texture, and copious amounts of sage, your mouth will become full, and fullness, rather than physical fullness, will slow down your food intake.

Bringing a salad won’t get a lot of praise right away. In fact, people may even treat you with a little contempt or pity, but they will change their tune as soon as your fresh and vibrant pile of vegetables peels their palates and allows them to keep pushing potatoes down their throats. In addition to balancing the flavors of rich and sauce-drenched foods, adding a small amount of salad to your plate can have aesthetic and psychological benefits. (Note that this latter claim is not supported by any real research.)

Not only will green brighten a plate of oranges and beige, but a salad on a plate can make a person feel a little more virtuous. I was not so bad today, they think to themselves, a quarter of my plate was occupied by vegetable raw materials. Of course, the salad you bring should be fun (meaning it should contain cheese) and should complement, but not pair with, your other dishes. Moi gets its seasoning from butter-fried carrots, fried pecans, and blue cheese; and his cockiness of fresh apples and pomegranate seeds. A bit of sage and thyme in the dressing hints at Thanksgiving, but isn’t overly obvious. Here’s what you need, complete with an apple and maple vinaigrette:

For salad (minimum 8 servings):

  • 1 lb of mixed greens (I like half the spring mix and half the young spinach)
  • 4 rainbow carrots
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 large tart apple
  • 1 shallots
  • Half pomegranate seeds
  • 120 ounce blue cheese, divided into 8 and 4 ounce servings
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

For refueling (this will be more than enough, with a surcharge):

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons of ground mustard
  • 2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons grated or powdered Parmesan (the cheap product is really good here)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
  • 6 tiny sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves removed from stems

Slice the carrots, shallots, and apples into very thin slices with a sharp knife or mandolin cutter and place the apple slices in the lemon-water to keep them from browning. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium to high heat, season the carrots with a little salt and saute until tender and lightly browned around the edges. Toast the pecans in a dry cast iron skillet until warm and flavorful. Combine all but four ounces of cheese and toasted pecans in a large salad bowl and toss. Place the bowl in the refrigerator until it runs out.

To make a dressing, combine all ingredients in a jug and shake until completely emulsified. The dressing can be prepared overnight and stored in the refrigerator until used. In fact, it is preferable as it will combine all the flavors. When you’re ready to serve the salad, drizzle with the dressing – a couple tablespoons at a time – and stir until the leaves are lightly coated. Top the salad with the remaining cheese and pecans and serve.


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