Despite the usual debates over which is better—cornbread dressing or bread stuffing, white or dark meat, sweet potato or pumpkin or pecan pie—everyone agrees that the Thanksgiving meal is something they look forward to all year. And no one pushes away from the table unsatisfied, except …
I often find there’s something missing from the meal, something that may go unnoticed among all the elaborate meal prep. Don’t overlook the value of something fresh: a green salad, for example, or understated and simply seasoned green beans. If all that’s on the table is rich and savory, you get palate fatigue (or worse, boredom). After a forkful of turkey meat drenched in gravy, a bite of stuffing, a taste of sweet potato casserole, how welcome it is to crunch down on something green, bright, vibrant, and fresh—a salad brimming with citrus, like Fennel, Blood Orange, and Watercress Salad, or the al dente bite of Citrus Green Beans with Pine Nuts.
And here’s a great make-ahead tip for salad: Whisk together the vinaigrette in the salad serving bowl up to a couple hours ahead of the meal. Pile the greens on top of the vinaigrette (don’t toss), and leave the bowl on the table till you’re ready to serve. The greens won’t wilt, the salad will already be on the table in its serving bowl, and you can toss it together with a little showmanship for drama once everyone is seated.
Find more fresh sides dishes in our Ultimate Holiday Cookbook.