Even though Thanksgiving dinner calls to mind cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, and a vast platter groaning under the weight of a browned, aromatic turkey (and Thanksgiving weekend calls to mind mounds of leftovers), don't neglect your roughage. Nothing fancy here. A colorful mixed greens salad will do nicely, and shouldn't pose too much of a challenge even for rank beginners.
Likewise, making salad dressing is so easy there's no need to buy the bottled stuff ... unless you just don’t want to take the time.
red oak lettuce
red leaf lettuce
baby spinach leaves
red onion, thinly sliced
seedless cucumbers, cut into match sticks.
Pick out a mixture of greens: mesclun mix, red oak and red leaf lettuces, baby spinach leaves, arugula, etc. Allow about one cup or so per person. Rinse the greens in a colander the same day that you plan to use them. Tear large leaves into pieces 2 " or 3 " long. Wrap in a non-terrycloth towel, put into a plastic bag, and refrigerate until it's time to toss. Make sure the greens are dry, or the dressing won't stick to the lettuce.
No problem if you don't own a bowl big enough for tossing; use a clean plastic shopping or garbage bag, Gently toss the salad in the bag or toss the salad with your hands.
Other salad ingredients: keep it simple, such as thinly sliced red onion and seedless cucumbers cut into match sticks. In season, you might try sliced strawberries or orange slices.
2 to 3 large cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup each: extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt or more to taste dash cayenne pepper freshly ground pepper
Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a glass jar and refrigerate until ready to use. Whisk or shake before using. Use just enough dressing to coat the lettuce. The vinaigrette will keep up to a week.
See Back to Basics: Cooking for Thanksgiving Weekend for more recipes.