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8 Simple Salads To Kick Off Your Thanksgiving Feast

An endive and baby arugula salad with pears and toasted hazelnuts. Credit: Copyright 2015 Martha Rose Shulman

An endive and baby arugula salad with pears and toasted hazelnuts. Credit: Copyright 2015 Martha Rose Shulman

Salads are the last thing we think about when we’re planning a Thanksgiving menu, but they are a great way to begin the feast. We like to serve this course before people sit down to dinner. We’ll plate them in the kitchen, then pass them around while the crowd sips champagne before the meal. Or we’ll place them on a buffet along with other hors d’oeuvres, a stack of salad plates and forks close by.

Here are some of my favorite choices for this holiday meal, salads that show off fall produce, feel autumnal, but won’t fill you up too much before the main event.

Endive and Baby Arugula with Pears and Toasted Hazelnuts

Toast about 1/4 cup hazelnuts, set aside. Combine baby arugula, endive, a sliced ripe pear or two, some chopped fresh tarragon and parsley and toss with a lemon vinaigrette made with lemon juice, mustard, a little garlic, hazelnut oil, olive oil, salt, pepper and some shaved Parmesan. Add hazelnuts just before serving.

Marinated Vegetables with Coriander Seeds and Herbs

Marinated vegetables are paired with coriander seeds and herbs. Credit: Copyright 2015 Martha Rose Shulman

Marinated vegetables are paired with coriander seeds and herbs. Credit: Copyright 2015 Martha Rose Shulman

Simmer 3 cups water, 1/3 cup vinegar, 1/2 cup dry white wine, 1/2 cup olive oil, a few crushed garlic cloves and chopped shallots, a bouquet garni made with parsley sprigs, bay leaf and thyme sprigs, 1 1/2 tablespoons coriander seeds, 2 teaspoons fennel seeds, a teaspoon of peppercorns and salt to taste in a large saucepan or soup pot 15 to 30 minutes. Remove vegetables to a bowl. Reduce marinade by half and add lemon juice to taste, and pour over vegetables. Refrigerate for a few hours. Garnish with chopped fresh herbs such as parsley, tarragon or chervil.

Baby Spinach Salad with Balsamic Roasted Turnips or Beets

Add balsamic roasted turnips or beets to a baby spinach salad. Credit: Copyright 2015 Martha Rose Shulman

Add balsamic roasted turnips or beets to a baby spinach salad. Credit: Copyright 2015 Martha Rose Shulman

Cut peeled turnips or beets in wedges and toss with a few tablespoons olive oil and a tablespoon or two of balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes at 425 F. Stir and bake for another 10 minutes, until tender. Remove from heat and allow to cool, then toss with baby greens and vinaigrette. Walnuts, blue cheese or feta, fresh herbs all welcome.

Turkey Waldorf

Make a turkey waldorf with shredded turkey, chopped apples, diced celery, chopped walnuts and chopped radicchio or endive. Credit: Copyright 2015 Martha Rose Shulman

Make a turkey Waldorf with shredded turkey, chopped apples, diced celery, chopped walnuts and chopped radicchio or endive. Credit: Copyright 2015 Martha Rose Shulman

Make a creamy dressing with 3 tablespoons mayonnaise, 1/4 cup plain yogurt, 1 teaspoon curry powder, 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, a little honey, 2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice, salt and 2 tablespoons walnut oil or grapeseed oil and toss with shredded turkey, chopped apples, diced celery, chopped walnuts and chopped radicchio or endive.

Broccoli, Baby Arugula and Purslane with Quinoa

broccoli salad

Mix together broccoli, baby arugula and purslane with quinoa. Credit: Copyright 2015 Martha Rose Shulman

Slice broccoli crowns as thin as possible. Toss with a vinaigrette and marinate 10 minutes. Add baby arugula and purslane and toss together. Add just a little quinoa, about 1/4 cup, and toss again.

Marinated Carrot and Cauliflower Salad

Marinated carrots and cauliflower make for an easy salad. Credit: Copyright 2015 Martha Rose Shulman

Marinated carrots and cauliflower make for an easy salad. Credit: Copyright 2015 Martha Rose Shulman

Cut carrots into 2-inch sticks and break cauliflower into florets. Steam carrots 5 minutes. Steam cauliflower 5 to 8 minutes, until just tender. Toss at once with coarse sea salt and equal parts sherry vinegar and olive oil. Before serving, toss with a few tablespoons chopped fresh mint.

Radish and Orange Salad

Radishes and oranges create a colorful salad. Credit: Copyright 2015 Martha Rose Shulman

Radishes and oranges create a colorful salad. Credit: Copyright 2015 Martha Rose Shulman

Cut navel and blood oranges into rounds or sections. Cut radishes and daikon radishes into thin rounds. Make a dressing with lemon juice, a little agave syrup or honey, cinnamon, cayenne and pistachio oil. Toss radishes and citrus with dressing in separate bowls and arrange on a platter or on plates. Garnish with pistachios and fresh mint.

Romaine and Couscous Salad

Add couscous, peppers and herbs to this salad. Credit: Copyright 2015 Martha Rose Shulman

Add couscous, peppers and herbs to this salad. Credit: Copyright 2015 Martha Rose Shulman

Toss romaine (broken into small pieces), diced red and yellow peppers, and abundant fresh herbs with a lemon vinaigrette.

More from Zester Daily:

» Roasted tomato and corn salad for Thanksgiving

» 9 fresh ideas for Thanksgiving leftovers

» Brussels sprouts that can convert even the haters

» Game plan for a perfect last-minute Thanksgiving

Main photo: An endive and baby arugula salad with pears and toasted hazelnuts makes a perfect Thanksgiving salad. Credit: Copyright 2015 Martha Rose Shulman



Zester Daily contributor Martha Rose Shulman is the award-winning author of more than 25 cookbooks, including "The Very Best of Recipes for Health" and "The Simple Art of Vegetarian Cooking," both published by Rodale. She also joined Jacquy Pfeiffer in winning a 2014 James Beard Award for "The Art of French Pastry."

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