Believe it or not, we’ve arrived at our final week of fall share distribution! Week Seven of sweet spinach and buttery salad greens, candy carrots and sturdy beets, savory green onions and crisp radishes.
As we approach Thanksgiving, I’d like to share how thankful I am for you, our farm members. I appreciate your willingness to try new foods (like beets and green smoothies!), for your feedback on recipes, for remembering our goats with sweet treats, for chilly-afternoon conversations, for jars of homemade goodies. It’s truly a pleasure to grow for you.
I’d also like to leave you with a recipe you can use as part of your Thanksgiving meal. We make a variation of this salad for pretty much all of our fall/winter get-togethers, be it an annual friend get-together known locally as Friendsgiving, a church potluck, or the big Thanksgiving and Christmas meals.
This salad packs a punch when it comes to vitamins, fiber, and texture. Let’s dig in and get started with the beets. (For those of you who still are on the fence about beets, this salad can survive without them!) We’re going to do the same thing we did in the very first recipe of this series—thinly slice and gently steam the beets. A few of you have asked about peeling the beets–good question! I rarely peel mine, but you’re welcome to if you have a texture preference. When the beets are finished steaming, set them aside to cool.
Meanwhile, melt a little butter over medium-high heat in your cast iron skillet or frying pan. Toss in your pecans, add a little brown sugar, and stir until your pecans are caramelized, about 5 minutes. Set the pecans on a sheet of wax paper to cool. When you sample one right out of the skillet, try not to burn your mouth (ahem, not that I’ve ever done that before). If you don’t have time to caramelize your own pecans, you can always substitute a store-bought variety.
Next, make your dressing. I made a variation of cider vinaigrette from this Taste of Home salad recipe. Whisk together apple cider, apple cider vinegar, honey, mustard, and oil with a little salt and pepper. Set aside.
Slice the brie into 1/2″ pieces and place in a microwaveable dish. I chose the Président brand for its mild taste and smooth texture. You’re welcome to leave on or cut off the rind according to your preference.
The prep is almost done! Chop up the apple of your choice–I prefer Honeycrisp or Gala for something sweet or Granny Smith for tartness. Find a bowl appropriate to the size of your gathering, and fill it with a combination of baby spinach, baby salad greens, and/or torn head lettuce. (If you’re feeling daring, throw in a little mesclun too!)
Right before serving, gently warm the brie in the microwave so it’s just beginning to melt. Then place about two-thirds of each salad topping–including the warmed brie–on the greens, and toss everything together. The idea is to make sure the last guest to be served still gets the goodies! Lightly drizzle a few tablespoons of dressing over the salad. Then sprinkle on the remaining toppings and make your salad sparkle with a little more dressing.
You can feel the satisfaction of serving a delicious and nutritious dish to complement your holiday feast.
A few notes:
1) A lot of the salad prep can be completed ahead of time, like the beets, pecans, and dressing. You can even chop up the apples the day before—just make sure you toss them with lemon juice to keep them from browning.
2) Pour the remaining dressing into a small pitcher or serving dish and place on the holiday table for those who prefer even more flavor.
3) This salad is ripe for variations. Don’t like brie? Use gorgonzola, camembert, or a good cheddar. Instead of apples or beets, try dates or pears. Choose toppings that make your mouth water!
Leave a comment and let me know about your experience with the Thanksgiving salad!
Photographs and Food Styling: Anne Kingma