Salad and Giving Thanks

This year I didn’t get the opportunity to cook Thanksgiving dinner, which is fine. The typical American Thanksgiving meal is quite involved, especially if you’re trying to make everybody happy and satisfy their requests. You can spend days in the kitchen.

But what one misses out on is Thanksgiving leftovers. And I really missed them this year. Fabulous, hearty and delicious food that reheats well, and is perfect for winter weather.

So I was inspired to create a salad inspired by Thanksgiving dishes, even though I had no leftovers. No problem. Grilled turkey, sausage, rice, wild rice, Brussels sprouts, cranberries, and more.

So the following recipe is more of a guide for a Thanksgiving-inspired salad using your favorite Thanksgiving ingredients. Not all of them – that could get quite messy!

Use rice, barley, wild rice, or even quinoa. And then just have fun with the ingredients. Serve at room temperature with your choice of vinaigrette or citrus-based dressing. Here goes.

Salad for Giving Thanks

Combination of brown and wild rice, cooked
Mini Italian sausage balls, cooked
Cooked Brussels sprouts
Turkey tenderloin
Sliced celery
Toasted pecans
Dried cranberries
Vinaigrette of choice

Have a serving platter large enough for the number of eaters. Plan on large servings, because this salad is delicious and addicting!

Have your rice cooked, and make a layer with it on the platter.
Add the sausage balls, followed by the Brussels sprouts.

I cooked a piece of turkey tenderloin in a skillet, seasoned only with garlic pepper. Many Americans use poultry seasoning. I browned the turkey on both sides, then put on a lid and cooked it until it was 155 in the thickest part. Place the turkey on a cutting board and let it rest. I sliced the tenderloin, but you could cut it up as well.
Add the turkey to the salad. Then add the celery, pecans, and dried cranberries.

Serve the salad warm or at room temperature, topped with the vinaigrette.
an equal amount of sherry vinegar. I poured the mixture in a blender jar, added one clove of garlic, some salt, and about 2/3 cup of olive oil. Blend and go!


note: I wouldn’t recommend using 100% wild rice, which is actually a grass and not legally rice. And because of that fact, too much of it creates a texture similar to alfalfa, which I can only imagine eating.

By Published On: December 7th, 201546 Comments on Salad and Giving Thanks

About the Author: Chef Mimi

As a self-taught home cook, with many years in the culinary profession, I am passionate about all things food-related. Especially eating!


  1. thecompletebook December 7, 2015 at 7:08 AM - Reply

    What a magnificent salad Mimi! What a fabulous use of different flavours.
    Have a super day.
    :-) Mandy xo

    • chef mimi December 7, 2015 at 7:40 AM - Reply

      Thank you!! So many different ways to prepare it, as well!

  2. A Cookbook Collection December 7, 2015 at 7:55 AM - Reply

    Stunning salad! I’m with you on the quinoa too, I just don’t get it at all.

    • chef mimi December 7, 2015 at 9:59 AM - Reply

      Years ago I tried out just about every bean and grain that I could get my hands on, and I never enjoyed quinoa. It’s funny to me now that it’s become popular. It’s healthy, but not really that good!!!

      • A Cookbook Collection December 8, 2015 at 4:38 AM

        Exactly! There’s no point in eating healthily if it feels like punishment :-)

  3. judilyn December 7, 2015 at 8:22 AM - Reply

    My favorite method of cooking wild rice is to put into boiling water in a good (Nissan) vacuum bottle and let it sit for several hours. If it isn’t quite finished (mine is always perfect), you can boil it a bit on the stove.

    Virtual hugs,


    • chef mimi December 7, 2015 at 9:56 AM - Reply

      Fascinating!!! It does need to soften or its like eating wood!!!

      • judilyn December 7, 2015 at 2:00 PM

        I think this produces a much nicer result than boiling for an hour!

  4. Gerlinde de Broekert December 7, 2015 at 8:47 AM - Reply

    What a substantial great looking salad Mimi. I love your dressing , I will make it as soon as I get the hard cider.

    • chef mimi December 7, 2015 at 9:58 AM - Reply

      It’s nice drinking hard cider, too, but I love using it for reductions!

  5. Tasty Eats Ronit Penso December 7, 2015 at 9:34 AM - Reply

    A salad that can replace any dinner. Great idea! :)

  6. Mary Frances December 7, 2015 at 9:54 AM - Reply

    Isn’t it interesting how much more Thanksgiving is than just the day? The leftovers (and eventually getting sick of the leftovers) are all part of the fun. Happy Holidays!

  7. Kiki December 7, 2015 at 10:05 AM - Reply

    Salad looks great but dressing sounds even better! On my to do list now.

  8. StefanGourmet December 7, 2015 at 10:12 AM - Reply

    Nice idea to use cider for the dressing!

    • chef mimi December 7, 2015 at 11:35 AM - Reply

      Thanks! I love being creative with reductions!

  9. Amanda | What's Cooking December 7, 2015 at 10:35 AM - Reply

    That salad is perfect for the season. I think it’s funny that you miss the leftovers, I usually hate leftovers, but this salad is SO perfect!

    • chef mimi December 7, 2015 at 11:37 AM - Reply

      You probably miss leftovers when you don’t have them, but if you have them, you get sick of them!

  10. Jenny December 7, 2015 at 12:19 PM - Reply

    This salad has it all! It looks so colorful and delicious!

  11. Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward December 7, 2015 at 12:55 PM - Reply

    Great salad and dressing!

  12. Julie is Hostess At Heart December 7, 2015 at 9:01 PM - Reply

    Love everything about this salad! I love dishes like this when there are so many celebrations to attend.

  13. anotherfoodieblogger December 7, 2015 at 9:02 PM - Reply

    Oh my goodness Mimi, even though you didn’t cook a full-on American Thanksgiving dinner, this looks like it could rival one and with WAY less calories! Great job!

    • chef mimi December 8, 2015 at 7:25 AM - Reply

      Thanks – it’s a fabulous salad/meal!

  14. Lisa @ cheergerm December 8, 2015 at 5:06 AM - Reply

    Fab winter salad there CM. The photo of the dressing is tops!

  15. Heather @ Sweet Precision December 8, 2015 at 10:17 AM - Reply

    This looks like a delicious and hearty salad. I like your idea of swapping out lettuce for grains in the colder months.

    • chef mimi December 8, 2015 at 1:21 PM - Reply

      Thanks! I guess they don’t seem as cold as lettuce, and you really can’t heat up lettuce!

  16. Fine Dining at Home (@fdathome) December 8, 2015 at 3:19 PM - Reply

    I think this looks better than Christmas/Thanksgiving dinner anyway. Plus loads of room left for trifle!

  17. camparigirl December 8, 2015 at 6:15 PM - Reply

    I have to add that your photos get better and better.

  18. Nadia December 9, 2015 at 3:17 AM - Reply

    I love the idea of a Thanksgiving leftover salad without real “leftovers”.

  19. Michelle December 9, 2015 at 6:59 PM - Reply

    I love that! You’ve condensed the whole Thanksgiving down to one lovely dish.

  20. Loretta December 10, 2015 at 1:36 PM - Reply

    Oh I could eat the entire meal in one sitting :). There’s just so much sweet stuff going around, and so hard to resist…’ve come up with a great idea of a salad incorporating all the wonderful flavors this time of year.

  21. ruthann1 December 10, 2015 at 1:41 PM - Reply

    I am awed at your Thanksgiving salad combination. I’ll be cooking a small Christmas dinner, and will plan to have what I need for this salad for leftovers. So nutritious and delicious. It looks like a Christmas salad too, don’t you think? RuthAnn, Inspiring Cuisine, Cookbook for Christmas,

  22. David Scott Allen December 19, 2015 at 9:06 AM - Reply

    I love your Thanksgiving salad! What a great idea, and so much better than the actual meal itself!

  23. milkandbun December 21, 2015 at 10:59 AM - Reply

    Such an interesting combination of ingredients! All festive and delicious, and especially your unique vinaigrette – I wish I could come over your place and tried it!

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