Love though I do Halloween, Thanksgiving is a very close second. Every year the pattern repeats: up pre-dawn, shower and coffee, begin the feast by 7am. Pies and goodies prepped the night before mingle with timeworn cookbooks and flying utensils while the Macy’s parade plays on tv. We’ll eat in the early afternoon, if nothing goes awry. The menu is planned well in advance, always essentially the same, with or without turkey (we’re a ham family) and with an occasional swapping of a side, albeit scalloped potatoes, deviled eggs, and dressing are absolute mainstays. Post feast come naps and decorating the Christmas tree to the tune of E’s excitement and George Bailey finding out it really is a wonderful life.
And while those traditions repeat annually, this year something new to celebrate our first Thanksgiving in our home. My poor little 50’s kitchen table I’ve had since college has sufficed as our dining table for a time now, but its scant four feet by just under three feet surface hardly cuts it especially for larger meals. Knowing we wanted something special, not just any store-bought premanufactured piece of furniture for our dining room, we opted to build our own table farmhouse style from these instructions.
Perfect in its imperfections? Yes. Made from construction lumber, it was officially Josh’s second piece of furniture and he is no carpenter. Neither am I by any stretch. And neither are he and E furniture finishers, but I did my best to explain the how to’s and oversee as they helped me. In spite of our combined inexperience, it is perfect indeed in its imperfection.
And so our family gathered round a feast featuring both ham and turkey, because there is now room for both, and enough sides to choke a horse as the saying goes. And here for your family’s table is a bright and pretty winter salad, simple to make and featuring winter root vegetables played up by the delicious bittersweet bite of orange and cranberry. The flavors and ingredients are so well suited to the season and the salad itself is so pretty on the table, this recipe is ideal for Thanksgiving or Christmas feasts, but it is so delicious it pairs beautifully with any winter meal.
WINTER VEGETABLE SALAD
1 1/2lb carrots, halved lengthwise and cut into 2” pieces
4 large parsnips, peeled and sliced
4 large turnips, peeled and cubed
1 cup cranberries
Salt and Pepper
2 cups arugula
2 cups chopped radicchio
Preheat oven to 400. Toss vegetables in about three tablespoons olive oil and place in a single layer in a lightly greased jelly roll pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 30-35 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add cranberries to the vegetable mix and bake another five minutes. Allow to cool completely, approximately 20 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk together dressing. When cooled, place vegetables in a large bowl and drizzle with desired amount of dressing, toss to coat. Toss with arugula and radicchio and serve with any remaining dressing on the side.
Orange Vinaigrette (Adapted from Southern Living)
1 tsp orange zest
Juice of one orange (Approx ¼ cup)
1 tbsp finely chopped shallot
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp Dijon mustard
½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp fresh cracked pepper
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
In a small jar or bowl with lid, combine all ingredients except the olive oil. Shake thoroughly to combine. Add the olive oil and shake again to combine.
For a pretty presentation, the arugula and radicchio can be spread on a platter then topped with the veggie mix after tossing it with the dressing.
A mix of colors for the carrots makes for a gorgeous salad, but if you include purple carrots roast them separately from the other veggies so that their juice does not tint all the other veggies pink.
A few ounces of crumbled feta is a nice addition to this salad for those who enjoy cheese.