I love the idea of Thanksgiving: setting aside a day for giving thanks, sharing with those in need, and getting together with loved ones—and of course cooking and talking and eating and laughing together.
I’m not always absolutely thrilled by Thanksgiving dinner in practice, however. By the time one consumes a portion of each menu item at most harvest tables, one starts to feel awfully full.
My solution to this quandary is to try to include a green salad in the day’s offerings. One can eat a lot of salad and eat only a little of everything else.
I made the salad below with pecan oil graciously sent to me by La Tourangelle. If you have guests at your table with nut allergies, you may of course use extra-virgin olive oil, but otherwise I think the nut flavor suits this quintessential American holiday.
Feel free to add your own favorite ingredients. When my sister-in-law Leigh and I made this salad last year to take to Thanksgiving dinner at our cousins’ home, we served sweet-potato chips on the side. People threw them into their salad at the last minute to add crunch.
If you’d like to see me make the salad, watch the clip at the bottom of the recipe in which Ashley Kohl and I assemble the salad—after we pop some cranberry-apple crisp into the oven.
Happy Turkey Day (or as I like to call it, Salad Day!) to all……
for the dressing:
4 tablespoons cider vinegar
4 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon water
1 teaspoon salt
ground pepper to taste
10 tablespoons walnut or pecan oil
for the salad:
1/2 pound uncooked spinach leaves (more if you like)
1/2 cup walnut or pecan halves (more if you like)
1 apple (your choice, cored and sliced but not peeled)
1/2 small red onion, chopped into rings or pieces
1/2 cup crumbled feta or blue cheese (more if you like; omit for a lighter salad)
3 strips cooked bacon, crumbled (optional)
1/4 cup dried cranberries (more if you like)
First, make the dressing. In a 2-cup mason jar combine the vinegar, maple syrup, mustard, garlic, water, salt and pepper. Shake well. Slowly whisk in the oil.
Wash the spinach thoroughly and dry it.
Place the nuts in a small frying pan, and toast them over low heat for a few minutes, stirring constantly, to release their oils. Take the pan off the heat.
Just before you are ready to eat, slice the apple. In a salad bowl combine the salad ingredients.
Shake the dressing, and pour about a quarter of it onto the salad. Toss the salad well but carefully. Serves 6.
(You will have enough dressing for several salads. Refrigerate the dressing between uses, and make sure to bring it to room temperature and shake it well before you re-use it.)