Have you ever found yourself cooking and baking the night before Thanksgiving, and then you realize, wait, what’s for dinner tonight?
The smell of pie inevitably draws people to the kitchen. You can only shoo them away for so long before you have to feed them something. Don’t, and they’re likely to steal tastes behind your back.
Why not give them a little preview of Thanksgiving dinner? One that’s filled with tasty bits, but won’t spoil their appetite for the next day.
I call this Thanksgiving “prep” salad not only because it utilizes the ingredients you’re prepping for the next day, but also because it’s a healthy way to prepare yourself for the feast ahead.
It starts with a big pile of lacinato kale, massaged with a cranberry vinaigrette made from Florida sunshine cranberry sauce (or your house favorite). Toss that with roasted pumpkin, apples, onions, and pecans, all seasoned with traditional Thanksgiving herbs. If you happen to be cooking any of them for other dishes, make a little extra so you have some to spare for this salad. Once you’ve piled on all those goodies, sprinkle the whole thing with goat cheese. There you have it, a big salad filled with Thanksgiving anticipation.
- 1 head lacinato kale
- 2 cups pumpkin or squash, diced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 1 apple, diced
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, sage)
- salt and pepper
- 1 cup pecans
- 1/2 cup dried cherries or cranberries
- 6 oz. honey goat cheese
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- pinch of salt and pepper
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons cranberry sauce
- Heat the oven to 400.
- Place the pumpkin on a baking sheet. Sprinkle it with cinnamon and drizzle it with olive oil. Roast it for 12 minutes.
- Make the cranberry vinaigrette by whisking together the vinegar, garlic, mustard, salt and pepper. Continue whisking while you drizzle in the olive oil. Stir in the cranberry sauce.
- Wash, thoroughly dry, and thinly slice the kale. Toss it with 2-3 tablespoons of cranberry vinaigrette. Using salad tongs or your hands, massage the dressing into the kale for a minute or so to tenderize it. Set it aside.
- Remove the pumpkin from the oven. Add the onion and apple, stir, and continue roasting for another 10 minutes. Add the herbs, salt, pepper, dried cherries, and pecans to the pan. Bake for 6-8 minutes, or until everything has caramelized and the pecans are toasty, but not burned.
- Top the kale with all the roasted ingredients and crumble the goat cheese over the top. Serve with remaining cranberry vinaigrette.