I know what you’re thinking: Salad is a desk lunch. Salad is a weeknight side. It has no place on a Thanksgiving menu. But I’m here to say it definitely does. Not for fiber, but for flavor. Not for virtue, but for verve.
Think of salad as a moment of relief, like the shade of a tree on a sunny afternoon. On a holiday table chock-full of dishes that are rich and richer, something raw and tangy is a welcome contrast. Salad tastes good on its own, but it also makes everything around it taste better. Its crunch peps up silky-smooth mashed potatoes. Its zing brightens gravy-smothered turkey.
And it doesn’t have to be complicated either. In fact, come Turkey Day, it should be the easiest dish you make. If you ask me, all you need are leafy greens and a zippier-than-usual vinaigrette, like this one you can shake up in the length of a song. But if you want to show off a little, show off a little! Try Broccoli Spoon Salad With Warm Vinaigrette or Roasted Squash Salad With Crispy Chickpeas.
Here are 23 salad recipes that prove this underdog deserves a seat at Thanksgiving. If your table is anything like mine, despite the skepticism, salad will end up on every plate—this year and for many more to come.