Monday, November 12, 2012

Thanksgiving Sides: So Good You Could Skip the Pie

Politics are over! Let's talk turkey. Well, let's talk sides. Because our turkey — languishing in turkey paradise in a lovely cedar poultry-cabin that gets moved from fresh pasture to fresh pasture by subservient humans — has decided to stay trim and postpone his inevitable culinary demise. And I thought turkeys were relatively unintelligent animals.

This means I have had to use alternate local food sourcing methods to find a new turkey (otherwise known as Facebook). For now, we'll talk sides. Closer to December, look for a post on how to convince your spouse to go out in the snow and smoke a Christmas turkey, with a sidebar on which bourbon is required to convince him and why.

Here's the shocker most people get at my Thanksgiving table: I make a salad course. I know, it's like some kind of blasphemy, right? Leafy greens amidst all the comfort food and butter fat. It also feels like rule-breaking since delicate leafy greens are not exactly seasonal unless you know a farm with a high tunnel or a green house. Or you use kale.

The other requirement is that you can't just put some lettuce out there with ranch dressing and expect it to  go up against mashed potatoes with any success. The salad has to be a bit sexy to get any love at this holiday feast.

Here's three options for salads, all are worth a part of your plate.

Easy, easy. And make ahead. With kale, apples, pears, pumpkin seeds and a cranberry vinaigrette it is perfectly in season and a salad you can source locally.

This one has pears, apples, clementine oranges with pomegranate seeds, white stilton cheese and a lemon vinaigrette.

Roasted grapes and pears with bleu cheese and a dressing made with a Muscat wine, lemon and honey reduction. Seriously, who needs pie if you serve this.

Love this one for Thanksgiving or Christmas. It's light, fresh and stunning. The orange and fennel have a nice acidity that cuts the butter fat of other rich dishes. The color is stunning.

Next post: What to make with those sweet potatoes besides that nasty, sugary marshmallow thing.

Going Green (vegetable): From sexy Smoked Cabbage with Roasted Apples to REAL Green Bean Casserole, five ways to get green vegetables invited to your Thanksgiving dinner menu.

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