Turkey used to get all the love on Thanksgiving; now, it seems, we’re giving the side dishes their due. “Sidesgiving” is a thing. I’m all for it; even when the turkey is brined, spatchcocked, and roasted to perfection, it’s still all about the potatoes and stuffing. But there’s one side that has yet to benefit from the craze: a proper salad.
Okay, salad is not technically a “side” since you’d normally eat it well before the turkey (or after, if you’re celebrating Thanksgiving in Italy for some reason). But a crisp, bracing salad is crucially supportive of the attention-hogging mains. For one, it’s a welcome change of pace. It cuts through all the butter, fat and tryptophan at the table, perking things up with a shot of acid. It’s a stimulating aperitif for the oncoming deluge of beige calories, a role that green bean casserole simply does not play. In plainer words for the salad skeptics out there: it will help you eat more turkey.
For a Thanksgiving salad, I like to stick to the season, and I always dress it in an assertive vinaigrette (leave the heavy dressing to gravy). Kale is a smart choice for this time of year; below, I’m reupping a Barbuto-esque lacinato salad that I posted last January. Of course, all of those beautiful winter chicories are beginning to crop up, and they would make an excellent starter dressed in an orange vinaigrette. Both of these salads work quite well for the holiday, especially since you can clean and prep the leaves ahead of time and simply douse them in vinaigrette just before serving.