Cookbooks surround me with pages folded and creased to mark recipes I’m eager to try. While I plan holiday dishes, in the background PBS plays Julia Child confidently laying a pliable dough into a round French pan. It’s no surprise that Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays—it’s a day devoted to cooking, eating, family and thinking about what makes you thankful. I can think of little better.
I’ve had my holiday menu planned for weeks. The turkey is stuffed to maximum capacity with an herby and sausage-laden stuffing. Potatoes, heavy in cream and butter, surrender to a cap of caramelized onion gravy. There are buttery rolls, a tart cranberry relish, sweet potatoes that lean more towards sweet than savory and a bright, raw carrot salad that mightily attempts to break up the holiday heft with lemon and red onion.
Earlier this summer, I praised the wonders of raw vegetables, but these bright, clean and nutritious salads are even more welcomed in the winter when heavy braises, creamy gratins and rich cuts of meat are commonplace. Salads, such as this carrot and red onion one, are a necessary reprieve from the typical holiday fare.
Of all the raw vegetable salads, carrots seem the least non-threatening. My kids crunch on them happily. The other day my oldest son complained that his eye was hurting. He asked, “May I have a carrot?” Not only does he like them, he also knows carrots are good for his eyes. I didn’t have the heart to tell him they don’t quite work that quickly, but hey, he didn’t complain about the pain after that, so what do I know?
While fresh salads may not make the popular Thanksgiving menu items, I deem them necessary. Of course I love the potatoes, stuffing and marshmallow topped sweet potatoes, but it’s crisp, fresh dishes like these that help balance the meal and break up the richness. They add vibrant color to the table and plate, mix up quickly and are a welcomed fresh bite.
We have much for which to be thankful.
by Ashley Rodriguez
CARROT SALAD WITH RED ONION AND LEMON
4 carrots, grated or peeled to get long ribbons (about 4 cups)
½ red onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped, fresh parsley
Salt & pepper
• Combine everything and mix well.
• Can be made a couple hours in advance then refrigerated.
Serves 6-8 as a side dish Adapted from www.realsimple.com