American Thanksgiving! Or, Thanksgiving, as my friends and family in Washington state call it. I’ve been in Seattle for the past five days eating numerous reincarnations of turkey and all of the accompaniments: two dinners on Thursday, leftovers on Friday, and slightly hungover turkey hash brunch on Saturday. This has been a delicious journey, especially since my family has never been keen on traditional Thanksgiving fare (let’s make it clear that I’m in no way complaining about roasted prime rib and Caesar salad being the usual suspects). So when I received the main dinner coordination plans it looked as though everything absolutely essential to an American Thanksgiving feast had been accounted for; pumpkin pie, turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes – it was all taken care of. I decided I wanted to bring a gigantic, beautiful, and crisp green salad to Thanksgiving dinner using a combination of really pretty greens to get the meal off to a gorgeous start. I make green salads all the time, always using different ingredients but generally sticking to the same basic tenets which are a) to make sure your greens have been carefully washed, dried, and chilled and b) to mix the dressing right in the bottom of the bowl and then toss it with your hands. I also like to ensure my vegetable and fruit additions are sliced very thinly so that they can be more easily tossed into the leafy greens. On that note, I also like to soak my red onion slices in water or lemon juice once they’ve been sliced, there’s nothing that ruins a salad faster for me than the taste of acrid burning onion.
big green salad:
1 packet of arugula, washed and dried completely
1 packet of baby spinach, washed and dried completely
1 packet of watercress, washed and dried completely
1 bunch of flat leaf parsley, torn into large pieces
1 bunch of radishes, sliced into thin half moons
3 stalks of celery, sliced into thin half moons
1/2 small red onion, sliced thinly, soaked in water for 20 minutes, and then drained completely
1 English cucumber, partially peeled in strips, sliced, and then drained on paper towel for 20 minutes
1 bunch of fresh basil, cut in a fine chiffonade
1 bunch of fresh mint, torn into small pieces
1/4 cup of dried cherries or cranberries, snipped into small pieces with scissors
Juice of half a lemon
1 Tbsp. sherry vinegar
1/3 cup fruity olive oil
Kosher or sea salt to taste
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Whisk together the lemon juice, sherry vinegar, and olive oil in the bottom of a large salad bowl adding a generous amount of salt and pepper to taste. Add the leafy green portion of the salad first, tossing with your hands to coat with the dressing. Add the sliced vegetables next, continuing to toss the salad with your hands. When all of the salad ingredients have been coated with the dressing top the salad with the fresh herbs and dried fruit. Adjust for seasoning and serve.
As for musical accompaniment to my salad making, I have to admit that it was primarily good old fashioned conversation in this case; I would argue that it’s the most important part of a celebratory meal. The common denominator that brings us all together.