Salads for your Thanksgiving feast

Autumn Harvest Salad (Provided photo — Yvona Fast)

Thursday is Thanksgiving. Time for turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, cranberries, squash, pie … and, of course, you also need a salad.

Addio pomodori. Goodbye, tomatoes — though Juniper Hill Farm still had a few at last week’s farmers market (and I ate the last one I bought from them today). Tomatoes don’t like the cold; that’s why the ones shipped in from California in refrigerated trucks lack flavor. The first half of November was warm … then it turned cold and white.

Instead of tomatoes, use other autumn veggies to add color and robust flavor to your Thanksgiving dinner salad. Roasted beets or squash. Winter roots. Fruit, like apples and cranberries.

Winter roots and autumn fruit can be the centerpiece of your salad, not just the add-in. A carrot salad is one example. Add raisins, cranberries, apples, and nuts or feta cheese. And green herbs, like parsley.

There are still plenty of local greens. Arugula, pea shoots, spinach, kale, all types of cabbage, as well as lettuce. Greens are low in calories and contain many vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber.

Most Americans know cabbage only from coleslaw, but cabbages make a variety of wonderful salads. There are many types, from green and red to Oriental varieties like choy and Napa. Cabbage combines well with carrots and apples.

All cabbage varieties have the most nutrients when eaten raw. One cup of shredded raw cabbage has just 24 calories yet supplies more than half the daily requirement for vitamin C — as well as ample amounts of A and B vitamins. It lowers cholesterol, improves circulation, stimulates the immune system and kills harmful bacteria. Both European and Oriental cabbages are cruciferous vegetables that stimulate cancer-protecting enzymes. Choys and other oriental varieties are more digestible and have fewer gaseous effects than European cabbage varieties. For added health benefits, use fermented cabbage in your salads.

Here are a couple of autumn salads for your Thanksgiving table. Salads are flexible. If you don’t have all the ingredients, make substitutions. Use what you have on hand.

Fresh Autumn Greens with Roasted Autumn Veggies


1 or 2 beets

Butternut squash (you will need 2 to 3 cups roasted squash)

2 cups finely chopped or shredded Napa cabbage

4 cups dark greens, like spinach or kale

1/2 sweet onion, sliced thin

1 apple or pear, cored and diced (no need to peel)

1/2 cup fresh cranberries (substitute craisins for a sweeter flavor)

1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese or blue cheese


2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon or balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Pinch salt

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Peel butternut squash, dice it, then place it on a cookie sheet with olive oil, salt and black pepper.

Scrub beets to remove sand. Wrap in foil.

Roast squash and beets at 400 F for 30 minutes.

Note: You can roast a larger quantity and use later in other recipes.

In bottom of salad bowl, combine dressing ingredients and whisk with a fork. You can do this while the veggies are roasting.

Stir cabbage, greens, onion, and fruit into dressing.

When squash and beets are done roasting, stir them in. Garnish with nuts, cheese and additional cranberries.

Serves 6.

Autumn Harvest Salad


1 Tablespoon Olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1 apple

2 cups pea shoots

2 cups chopped Napa cabbage (sub bok choy or green cabbage)

2 cups roasted butternut squash

1 cup fresh cranberries

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese


Combine olive oil, salt and lemon in the bottom of a salad bowl. Core and dice apple, and stir in (this prevents browning). Add pea shoots and cabbage; toss to coat. Stir in squash. Garnish with cranberries and feta.

Serves 2 to 4.

Leek and Apple Salad

This is one of our fall favorites — no greens, just four ingredients. I include it here because I plan to make it for our Thanksgiving dinner since I have lots of apples and I bought leeks at the farmers market.


2 leeks

1 Tablespoon kosher salt

2 apples

1 cup plain yogurt


Remove root end and tough greens from leeks. Slice the white part and place in colander; wash thoroughly to remove any sand.

Sprinkle with salt, mix well with hands, and leave in colander at least 20 minutes, or longer.

Rinse again to remove excess salt. Drain.

Core and chop apples (no need to peel. Place in salad bowl. Stir in drained leeks. Stir in yogurt. Serve. Serves 4 – 6.

Option: add other ingredients, like chopped toasted nuts or greens like arugula or pea shoots.

— — —

Author of the award-winning cookbook “Garden Gourmet: Fresh & Fabulous Meals from your Garden, CSA or Farmers’ Market,” Yvona Fast lives in Lake Clear and has two passions: cooking and writing. She can be found at www.yvonafast.com and reached by email at yvonawrite@yahoo.com. Twitter: @yvonawrites.


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