A Big Salad for a Big Meal

December 7, 2012

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I know that salad is not a traditional Thanksgiving dish but I swear by it. When the table is loaded with rich foods in the brown, orange, and yellow end of the spectrum, everything baked, mashed, whipped with butter, a simple but special salad – light, fresh, crunchy, green – serves as a frame to set off the all the decadent artistry while providing ammunition in the perennial battle to cordon off just a little bit of stomach real estate for dessert.

Thanksgiving Salad DressingMy Thanksgiving salad began several days before the big day when I combined coarsely shredded red and green cabbage and carrots with a lot of salt and a little vinegar, yellow raisins, and caraway seeds (whole cumin seeds work too). Covered, the mixture goes into the fridge. Three days later, veggies wilting and raisins plump and lending their sweetness to the vinegar, everything infused delicately with the flavor of caraway, I packed this container along with a few ingredients for the dressing, a head each of green leaf and romaine lettuce, a red bell pepper, and a bag of loose mache (a.k.a corn salad a.k.a. lamb’s lettuce) to bring to the feast. I had intended to include a few sprigs of fresh dill but forgot that at home. Luckily my mother had some at her house which I could use.

Cabbage and carrot slaw baseIt’s best not to assemble a leafy green salad too much before it will be eaten, as the dressing will wilt the greens. But the cabbage and carrots can use all the tenderizing they can get, so a couple hours before we ate, I made a dressing in the bottom of my mother’s big wooden salad bowl using some of my own ingredients and some swiped from her pantry, whisked it all together with a fork, and tossed in the cabbage mixture. At dinner time, I tossed in the greens, dill, and chopped red pepper.

Voila! Thanksgiving salad. This one served fifteen.

Here’s what I did for dressing:
1 1/2 tablespoon prepared mustard
1 1/2 tablespoon orange marmalade
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
several grinds fresh pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder

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