The Unsung Hero of Thanksgiving

As an eater, Thanksgiving is obviously my favorite holiday. I mean, come on, the whole day revolves around one huge meal that takes hours to make, a task that can be daunting for some, and a challenge for others. It’s filled with gloriously savory and sweet dishes and pies, I really don’t understand why it’s not everyone’s favorite holiday.

These first few weeks of November are when magazines and websites post their best Thanksgiving dishes.  From 456 ways to cook a turkey perfectly, to the most incredible cranberry sauce, to endless recipes to my favorite part of the meal: the stuffing/dressing. But there’s one side dish that gets sidelined, and I think is a vital part of making the whole meal work:  the salad.

Don’t get me wrong, salad is not my favorite part of Thanksgiving, I’m not that boring (no offense if it’s yours, it does make me question your judgement, though). But, a little salad on your plate will give your palate a welcome break from the generally salty, sweet, chewy, deliciousness that is the rest of the Thanksgiving meal.  For example:

My family’s Thanksgiving generally consists of the following:

– A big ol’ turkey
– Cheesy mashed potatoes
– Rum-glazed yams
– Sourdough bread stuffing
– The richest gravy known to man
– Green beans

The majority of it is starchy, soft, chewy, and very rich.  It weighs you down.

A few years ago I incorporated this Kale and Brussels Sprout salad into the mix, and for me, it was a game changer.  I know, I know, kale. Kale is so polarizing. How dare I submit my guests to my hippie kale agenda! #ilovekale.

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But here’s what I learned: this salad is incredibly simple, easy to eat, and provides some much needed crunch and freshness to your meal. With all the yams and potatoes and bread, it’s nice to have something light and tart to balance it out.  When you eat a bite of this salad and your mouth goes “OMG yes! Something I can chew on!” And then, more importantly: “OMG I’M READY FOR MORE STUFFING YAAAAASSSSS!”  (I’m paraphrasing, obviously.)

Plus then you won’t feel as guilty when you have seconds, because you can always say “oh I wasn’t that bad, I had some salad!”

What do you think? Do you have a favorite salad you serve at your Thanksgiving eating table?

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