This year I did not make Thanksgiving dinner. This was the first time in several years that I have not made it at home, myself. It was actually really difficult for me to wrap my brain around. I like making the big dinner. I like being in the kitchen, I like making the food. But we did not have any family coming into town and no unoccupied friends to invite over so we sought an alternative. We were welcomed into the home of some new friends, who are also new to our city. We met some of their family, we learned their traditions, ate their southern inspired food (my first time eating cornbread dressing), which was absolutely wonderful.
What I learned from this process was something about myself. I don’t want this to sound ungrateful for the wonderful Thanksgiving we had. It is exactly the opposite. I am thankful to have learned a little about myself. I think that my traditions are deeper rooted than I knew before this holiday season began. I am not one to take tradition too seriously. I am also not a holiday-kind-of-girl, but I realize now that much of my love of Thanksgiving (it is my favorite, if I was to have one) is wrapped up in the ability to give my family the gift of good food. I am thankful that I have the food to make, the means with which to make it, and the family to provide it to. I am already looking forward to making next year’s dinner and finding people to put on my guest list (let’s not forget I have an extremely small house, so the list must remain fairly small!).
I did get to bring a salad and some antipasto to dinner, so I was not completely without food preparation, but I did not get to physically cook anything (ok, I cooked beets and toasted walnuts). And I did get up at 7am just to make it, taking my time, stretching my preparation out for two hours. Puttering about between steps, preparing for the Thanksgiving day to come, both mentally and physically. Just feeling grateful.
At the end of the day, the salad was darn good and I wanted to share it with you.
Fall Chopped Salad. 8-12 adult servings
3 large hearts of romaine lettuce, rince and finely chopped
1 large golden beet (roasted 1 hour at 400 degrees in olive oil, peeled and chopped – I did this the day before I made the salad)
1/2 – 3/4 C dried cranberries
1/2 C toasted walnuts (toasted at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently)
1/2 C raw, shelled pumpkin seeds
2 oz blue cheese, crumbled
honey mustard dressing (recipe below)
Combine all ingredients, tossing well to coat everything with dressing. Keep cold until ready to serve.
1 T local honey
1 T whole grain mustard
1 T cider vinegar
pinch of cinnamon
kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
1 T olive oil
Combine all ingredients except olive oil with a whisk until honey is completely integrated. Slowly add olive oil, whisking to cause a partial emulsion. Adjust flavors if needed to your taste.
Enjoy and happy Thanksgiving!