A Thanksgiving Salad You’ll Want to Eat!



I feel the same way about Thanksgiving as I do Halloween – if you’re going to celebrate it then celebrate it!  Don’t give out homemade granola bars with carob nibs and don’t under any circumstances eat Tofurkey! When it comes to pretty much any holiday I’m a believer in the 80/20 rule – 80% of the customs/food etc should to stay the same, while 20% can have a twist – even a healthy twist if you wish.

At Thanksgiving, best not to mess with the “bones”  – or the bird – of the occasion, but the side dishes are fair game. I love seeing one I’ve never seen before or a spin on a classic amidst the familiarity of classic mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, and Brussels sprouts. I once added chestnuts to the Brussels sprouts which was extraordinary and I’m a big fan of creativity being taken with the mashed potatoes.

The one dish I often find quite dull but it’s always there for those who wish to balance decadence with a side of righteousness  – the green salad. The poor old salad never gets talked about, no one ever asks for the recipe or says, “I shouldn’t but I’m going in for seconds.” It ends up sitting on the side board, slowly deflating in its bowl by the weight of its own dressing and then unlike the other sides that get a second life the next day, it’s shoveled unceremoniously into the garbage can.

But there is hope for the Thanksgiving salad!  This year I’m going to bring a non-salad “salad” to Thanksgiving.  It’s got the green part but then you toss in other seasonal ingredients like cubes of roasted squash, quinoa and apple and all of a sudden you have a complete meal. In fact with this salad alone you DO have a complete meal as quinoa even delivers the protein quotient (along with some healthy fat and carbs).

The “recipe” for Squash, Quinoa and Apple Salad is simple:

Fresh greens (I used red tipped lettuce)

Diced squash (Dice it then roast it either on the stove top or in the oven)

Diced apple (You could also use pear)

Thinly sliced onion

Quinoa (cooked of course)

Vinaigrette dressing

Combine everything, toss with dressing and you’re done.

One important tip for roasting the squash (and this goes for whatever size the cubes are) – don’t crowd the pan.  If you do, the moisture from the squash inhibits the browning and it can go mushy, so give the cubes lots of space.  I actually find a very hot skillet with oil, a more reliable way of roasting small cubes of squash.

So there you have it, a healthy twist on the classic green salad that elevates it to an I-Want-That-Recipe! kind of a side dish.

Any twists on the classics you’d like to share?

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