Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thanksgiving Salad

Last night I attended an impromptu pizza and beer party. We had a long day at a Lego Robotics competition, and some of the parents invited everyone over to decompress and for the boys to celebrate their hard work.

I threw this salad together quickly. Everyone loved it. Of course. It is based on a recipe that I found about twenty years ago in some cookbook for kids. The book contained recipes for "authentic" Pilgrim dishes. I don't know if they actually were authentic, but this one at least was good. This "Sallet" does make a lovely first course for your Thanksgiving table. I don't remember the name of the book, or any of the actual proportions of the ingredients in the salad. But does it really matter? Salad is one of those great things that is pretty hard to ruin, unless you douse it in so much dressing that you have a plate of soup left after all the greens are eaten. And believe me, I have had plenty of salad with WAY too much dressing on it. The point is, you want to put just enough to coat the lettuce nicely, but not have it puddle in the bottom of the salad bowl.  Try adding dressing a bit at a time and tossing, then adding more if it seems too dry. You'll thank me. You always do.

Pilgrim Sallet
Fill your salad bowl with equal parts spinach or baby salad greens, some sturdy lettuce, like romaine, and cabbage. Yes, cabbage. Just do it. Did I mention that you should TEAR the lettuce first? Do I have to tell you people everything? The one I made last night had about twelve cups of greens, enough for probably eight to ten people, or six who really like salad.

Next, add a half of an English cucumber, sliced. (Don't buy those horrible spongy things that pass as cucumbers in most supermarkets, you know, they call then "cucumbers". No flavor whatsoever. Add some sliced red or green onion, half a red or about three green, and 1/4 cup or so of almonds, pecans, and walnuts. It is better if you toast them first, they have more flavor, but since I was too lazy to toast them yesterday, I will give you a pass, this time. Also add a couple tablespoons of each of chopped sage, parsley, and mint. You have a choice of adding fresh raspberries, pomegranate seeds, currants, or golden raisins. Pick two and add about 1/2 cup total.

For the dressing, I used 1/2 cup of sugar, dissolved in 1/2 cup of cider vinegar, then I added 1/4 cup of walnut oil and about 3/4 of a cup of olive oil. I seasoned the vinegrette with about a teaspoon of kosher salt and a teaspoon of fresh ground pepper. The original recipe calls for plain vinegar and vegetable oil, go ahead and use them if you want, but your salad won't be as good as mine. The cider vinegar is a nice match for the sweetness of the fruit, the walnut oil adds that nice nutty quality, obviously, and I just like olive oil. But hey, you do whatever you want. I'm feeling generous and uncharactistically unbossy. Must be because I love Thanksgiving so much. Or I'm just thankful I don't have to go to another Lego competition for at least a year.


Anonymous said...

This post inspires a warm, happy feeling about your blog. Strange, I know. And, I may actually try this recipe some day.

Anonymous said...

Just because you don't insult me directly, don't think I don't hear my name being mumbled as you blogged. My salads are NOT soggy. You are way to stingy on the salad dressing, boss lady -

Anonymous said...

Now I need a good pumpkin pie recipe.