10 Fresh Fall Salads for the Thanksgiving Table
Sure, Thanksgiving might be mostly about the turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes. But that doesn’t mean that you should skip the greens: they’re a fresh counterpoint to all of the carb-heavy plates. And when you’ve got an exciting salad selection picked out, they won’t feel dutiful. You need something that’s light with interesting texture and color to stand up to all of the other healthy dishes. You also need something with a bit of structure that won’t wilt immediately, especially if you do Thanksgiving family style. Luckily, each of these ten options fits the bill. And, as an added bonus, each one is also make ahead. Take our Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Manchego and Almonds. You can assemble the entire dish the day ahead, and the Brussels won’t brown or turn soggy during the meal. Our Grilled Radicchio Salad with Goat Cheese, Thyme, and Grapes has a smoky component, a tangy component, a salty one, and a sweet one. It’s balanced and complex, and won’t be shoved to the far corner of the dinner table. Several of our other salads have sweet-tart components in them like apples, citrus segments, and pomegranate seeds. Think about it: these flavors are in cranberry sauce, too, and pair exceptionally well with roasted meat. You might just want to add some of these options to your regular weeknight dinner rotation.
Grilled Radicchio Salad With Goat Cheese, Thyme, and Grapes
Marinating radicchio infuses it with flavor, and a turn on the grill lends smokiness and char. After transferring the vegetables to a serving platter, top with goat cheese and grapes, which pair well with the balsamic marinade. Garnish the salad with fresh thyme for color and an extra pop of flavor. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Get the recipe: Grilled Radicchio Salad With Goat Cheese, Thyme, and Grapes
Apple and Watercress Salad
Between basting the turkey and mashing the potatoes, you’ll be thankful for a salad that’s this easy to whip up. Simply toss sliced red apples with watercress, olive oil, lemon juice, and tarragon for a surprisingly flavorful (and crowd-pleasing!) side. Watercress is similar to arugula, and gives the salad a nice peppery kick.
Get the recipe: Apple and Watercress Salad
Chopped Winter Salad With Butternut Squash, Apple, and Feta
Full of contrasting flavors and textures, this salad combines sweet roasted butternut squash with chickpeas, crunchy apples, briny olives, and salty feta cheese. The whole thing is finished with a drizzle of dill dressing. Hoping to incorporate sweet potatoes into the menu? Simply substitute them for the butternut squash.
Get the recipe: Chopped Winter Salad With Butternut Squash, Apple, and Feta
Brussels Sprouts, Sweet Potato, and Pomegranate Seed Salad
Pomegranate seeds—which are at their prime from September to January—add a pop of color and flavor to this hearty vegetarian main. When picking the pomegranate, it should feel heavy in your hand, since its seeds are loaded with juice. The leathery skin should be firm and taut, with a light pink to deep red color.
Get the recipe: Brussels Sprouts, Sweet Potato, and Pomegranate Seed Salad
Roasted Broccoli, Mushroom, and Barley Salad
Each bite of this wholesome salad is packed with good-for-you ingredients, like broccoli, mushrooms, and barley. To create, prepare barley according to package instructions, roast the vegetables, and then toss it all with a tangy and slightly salty anchovy dressing. Finish the dish with a sprinkle of feta and fresh dill.
Get the recipe: Roasted Broccoli, Mushroom, and Barley Salad
Crispy Pomegranate, Watercress, and Fennel Salad
The juicy, tart pomegranate seeds complement the crisp fennel and slightly bitter watercress in this gorgeous salad, which takes just ten minutes to prepare. Adding the vibrant lemon vinaigrette to the serving bowl first ensures the entire salad is evenly coated—but won’t drip onto the rest of your sides.
Get the recipe: Crispy Pomegranate, Watercress, and Fennel Salad
Shaved Brussels Sprouts With Manchego and Almonds
This crunchy, vegetarian-friendly raw salad is a welcome way to round out an otherwise rich meal. Bonus: It won’t hog oven time. Have some travel time ahead of you? Toss the Brussels sprouts with the dressing up to an hour in advance. The fibers will soften and the flavors will intensify.
Get the recipe: Shaved Brussels Sprouts With Manchego and Almonds
Kale With Roasted Cranberries and Sweet Potatoes
They add a pop of red color and a bit of tartness to your salad, just like pomegranate seeds do. In this recipe, cranberries are coated in a bit of maple syrup to balance out their sour bite. And, this is genius: the maple syrup caramelizes around the berries during roasting, sealing their juices inside so they remain plump—and so the juice doesn’t stain the sweet potatoes bright red. You can make most components of the salad ahead of time, including roasting the cranberries and sweet potatoes, chopping the kale, and whisking together the dressing (it’ll keep for one day in advance).
Get the recipe: Kale With Roasted Cranberries and Sweet Potatoes
For a modern version of the classic dinner salad, start with your favorite Cobb salad recipe—but nix the pork bacon. This vegetarian, healthy-alternative version of cholesterol packed bacon is actually just shiitake mushrooms. Shiitake caps packed with delicious meaty umami flavor on their own. Then they’re tossed in brown sugar, olive oil, and a smattering of spices—cumin, chili powder, and cayenne—that add even more savory flavor. Finally, they’re roasted so they caramelize just like pan-cooked bacon. One of the best parts? They won’t spatter your entire stove (or oven for that matter) with grease.
Get the recipe: Shiitake Bacon
Citrus Endive Salad
In the colder seasons, it’s hard to make a colorful, fresh salad with seasonal ingredients. This dish, made with Belgian endive, grapefruit, and red onion does it all. Even though there’s a tablespoon of honey mixed into the salad dressing, the starter is more bitter and citrusy than sweet. It goes fantastically with rich Thanksgiving meals. Think of it like a palate cleanser. Cut the endive right before serving, but it’s entirely possible to segment the citrus the day before. Here’s how: with a sharp chef’s knife, cut the top and bottom off the grapefruit. Resting the grapefruit on one of the flat ends, slice down with the chefs knife to remove the peel of the grapefruit in strips. When you’re finished, cut along both sides of each grapefruit segment along the membrane. The segments can be stored in their juice overnight in an airtight container.
Get the recipe: Citrus Endive Salad