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The Art of the Thanksgiving Salad

Thanksgiving is a holiday of indulgence. It’s a day of decadent pies, thick slices of turkey, rich gravies, loaded stuffings and all manner of potato-based sides. We fully support feasting on this day of thanks, but let’s be honest – sometimes your palate needs a little break from the heavy-hitters. Try adding one of these six salads to your Thanksgiving spread to offset your feast – and prepare for them to be the first to run out.

Photo by Sarah Shatz

Recipe: Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad with Red Onion, Lemon and Pecorino

Delicately shaved raw Brussels sprouts with wisps of red onion, a light, lemony dressing spiked with whole grain mustard and a hint of tangy Pecorino achieve the perfect balance of earthy and bright flavors. Note: you can make quick work of shaving the Brussels sprouts with a mandoline or the shredding blade on your food processor.

Photo by James Ransom

Recipe: Carrot Avocado Salad

This recipe is from Serious Eats' new cookbook, courtesy of ABC Kitchen in New York City. We loved the technique of roasting some of the citrus before adding it to the tart-sweet dressing, and the smattering of crunchy sunflower and sesame seeds against a backdrop of sweet, yielding carrot and silky avocado makes for a textural combination that keeps you coming back for another bite. 

Photo by Sarah Shatz

Recipe: Helen Getz’s Napa Cabbage with Hot Bacon Dressing

Bacon dressings usually consist of crisp bacon, bacon fat and vinegar. But this version is first thickened with flour, then loosened with not only vinegar but water, too. Then you thicken it with egg, which creates a little magic in the dish –- concentrating the texture, amplifying the vinegar and whipping up a delicious foil for the salty bacon and sweet Napa cabbage.

Photo by James Ransom

Recipe: Red Leaf Salad with Roasted Beets, Oranges and Walnuts

Beets, oranges, and walnuts are a classic, winning winter salad combination. Combined with bitter hints from the fennel and orange rind in the dressing, this salad is balanced, light and chock full of fall flavor.   

Photo by Sarah Shatz

Recipe: Caesar Salad with Pancetta

This salad is everything a Caesar should be -- assertive, complex, and rich -- with a few bonus points tacked on for the inspired use of pancetta (both on its own and as an instrument for crisping the homemade sourdough croutons). The dressing is mostly traditional (egg yolk, anchovy, garlic, olive oil) but veers towards the creative with the addition of lime juice, which contributes a pleasantly bitter hit of acid. If you find the notion of swiping each individual crouton with fresh garlic overwrought, trust us -- it's worth it.

Photo by Sarah Shatz

Recipe: Kale Salad with Apples and Hazelnuts

In this salad, kale is highlighted in all its earthy, mineral-rich glory alongside young, slightly bitter mustard greens. Pecorino cheese brings welcome salinity, whereas apple adds a sweet crunch. This salad gets better with time, making it the perfect make-ahead addition to your Thanksgiving spread. 

What are your favorite salads to serve at Thanksgiving? Share your comments below.