Salad and Giving Thanks

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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.
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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.
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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!

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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.

Chopped Brussels Sprouts Salad

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Recently I had brunch at a restaurant in Fort Worth, Texas, and I was so intrigued by their Brussels sprouts salad, that it ended up being my brunch meal. I surprised myself, because I typically get something breakfasty for brunch, but the interesting-sounding salad won me over.

I was smart enough to snap a couple iPhone photos, shown below, so I would remember the ingredients, all of which were chopped into similar sizes except for the cheese.


So today I’m “copying” this salad to enjoy again and calling it a “chopped” salad. But I’m making one change. I’m cooking the Brussels sprouts. My pieces in the salad were at the most parboiled, and as a result, hard and bitter. It almost ruined the salad for me.

I’m still glad I ordered this unique salad, though, and was excited to try it out at home!
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Chopped Brussels Sprouts Salad

1 pound Brussels sprouts
8 ounces, approximately, grilled chicken
6 small, whole cooked beets
4 hard-boiled eggs
2 good-sized avocados
Handful of golden raisins
8 ounces Manchego or Idiazabal
4 ounces Marcona almonds

To begin, trim the ends off of the Brussels sprouts. Cut the larger ones in half, if necessary, so that they are fairly uniform in size. Place them in a steamer pan and steam them until just tender. I prefer steaming over boiling because I feel they’re less water logged.
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Place the Brussels sprouts in a large bowl and let cool. Meanwhile, cut the chicken, beets, eggs and avocado into similarly-sized pieces.

Add the chicken, beets, eggs, and avocado.



Add the raisins and the cheese. I cut the cheese in smaller pieces than the other main ingredients.

Then add the almonds. Make a light dressing of your choice. I used some olive oil and a champagne vinegar.

This is the champagne vinegar I used. If you see it, don’t buy it. I had never used it until I made this salad. As I was sprinkling it on the salad I got a whiff of it. Nasty stuff. Terrible aftertaste. I’m pretty sure I got it at Central Market.
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I quickly switched to a white balsamic vinegar, and I’m really glad I did. I actually poured that awful vinegar down the drain.

Toss the salad gently and serve at room temperature.

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You can sprinkle some finely ground almonds on the top if you wish.

This salad was even better than I remember it.
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The beets are a little problematic because they want to color the other ingredients purple. And the hard boiled eggs are impossible to cut neatly and keep from crumbling.


But flavor-wise, the salad is wonderful. I especially love the almonds and golden raisins! I will make this again!

Pasta with Brussels Sprouts

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Inspired by a photo I spotted on Nigella Lawson’s blog, I decided a pasta with Brussels sprouts would be fabulous. Doesn’t that sound like a perfectly comforting combination?!!

I happen to love Brussels sprouts. My husband thinks he hates them. Until he eats them. Then he makes a comment like, “These are pretty good!” But he refuses to remember that he makes this comment after eating them. But if he refuses this pasta, there will be more for me.

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So here’s what I did.

Pasta with Brussels Sprouts and Comté

12 ounce package pasta
1 pound Brussels sprouts
4 ounces butter
8-10 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper (optional)
Approximately 14 ounces Comté or Gruyère, diced

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside. If your pasta is very glutinous, you might want to toss it in a little oil in a large bowl to prevent sticking while you’re working on the rest of the recipe.
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This is the pasta I used. Funny packaging, huh?!! We’re not gluten free in this house, but I like to try pastas made from different grains, and this brand never fails to please. It’s actually a 16 ounce bag, but I only used 12 ounces of the pasta.
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Trim the Brussels sprouts. I normally cut large ones in half, but these were all about the same size.

Typically I steam Brussels sprouts, but I decided to use the pasta water. They were cooked just until tender, then drained. Let cool.


Meanwhile, using a large shallow pot, melt the butter over medium heat. A little browning is fine.

Add the garlic and have the cream nearby. For me, garlic is perfectly sautéed just when you begin to smell the garlic. That’s within about ten seconds. But I don’t like the taste of burnt garlic; some people do.


At this point, pour in the cream and stir in the salt and white pepper.

Simmer gently for about 30 minutes or so. The sauce should reduce by about half.
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Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Dice up your cheese. I chose Conté, but Gruyère or Fontina would work well.
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Set up your food processor to slice the Brussels sprouts. I just bought a new food processor, and I had to get the manual out to put the slicing mechanism together properly. My old one was a Viking brand and it was terrible, so hopefully this new one will do the trick for many many years.
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Slice the Brussels sprouts and add them to the pasta.

When the cream sauce is ready, remove the pot from the heat source and gently stir in the pasta and sliced Brussels sprouts.
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Lightly grease a deep serving dish that is oven proof. Place about half of the pasta in the dish, then cover with half of the cheese.


Add the remaining pasta and repeat with the cheese.

Place the serving dish in the oven and let the cheese melt and the pasta heat through. The pasta is done when the top is golden brown.
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The pasta isn’t as photogenic as I thought it would be. I thought you’d be able to see more of the Brussels sprouts’ leaves. But it is good.

It’s not overly rich, either. I considered making a bechamel to toss the pasta in, but I’m glad I made it simply with cream.

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Of course ham would be delicious in this pasta, or just little bits of Prosciutto. But I like it just with the Brussels sprouts, because it can be eaten as is, or as a side dish to just about any kind of protein.

And by the way, my husband finished off this pasta.

Roasted Crabapples

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I wrote recently about using apples picked from my apple tree, in order to share the apples with the sneaky raccoons so they don’t steal them all. Now, it’s not that I don’t like being resourceful, it’s just that unfortunately these apples aren’t the greatest tasting apples. They’re somewhat dry and bland, and for that reason alone, I’ve donated them to the raccoons in previous years.

Now crabapples were something I was not familiar with at all until we moved to this property about 11 years ago. We have one crabapple tree, which is right next to the apple tree.

I know people make a lot of crabapple jelly, and when I was pondering what to do with a bunch of apples and crabapples that I’d picked off of the two trees, I really wanted to do something different from jelly.
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So all I came up with was the apple-based chutney, and the apple-peach butter. Not that creative, but they were both great.

What I needed to do was actually taste the crabapples, because I never have before. Or perhaps if I did, I put it out of my memory.

Yuck. What sour little things. And not only that, but they have seeds.

The day I was forcing myself to figure something to do with these crabapples was also a day I was wishing for fall to come faster. I had a poussin to roast, along with some sweet potatoes. Bingo.

Into a large bowl, I placed cut up sweet potatoes, a few of those green apples, chopped, and some whole crabapples.
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I tossed them all in some olive oil with some salt, pepper, and dried thyme.

Then I simply placed everything around the seasoned poussin and roasted away.

I had also steamed some Brussels sprouts (did I mention how much I love fall?) and put those on a plate with chicken and the roasted vegetable and fruit mix.

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The verdict? Roasted crabapples are delicious. And, of course, they pair really well with sweet potatoes. Plus, you can’t really feel the seeds when the crabapples are roasted, which to me, is a plus.

It was 103 degrees outside but I didn’t care. This meal was fabulous. I’m going out to pick more crabapples!!!

Brussels Sprouts Salad

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When I buy Brussels sprouts, I immediately think to steam them and toss them in browned butter with a little salt. I’m the only one who eats them between my husband and myself, so that’s always how I prepare them. I may actually love Brussels sprouts more than any other vegetable. And I like them to shine like the mini cabbages they are.

Until today, I’ve never had a Brussels sprouts salad. What? They’re just so good the way I serve them, that I’ve never gotten very adventurous with them. But I put an end to this nonsense today.

Salads of Brussels sprouts are raw. That’s right, simply shaved or sliced and then tossed with a vinaigrette. The vinegar “cooks” and softens the sprouts, just as lime juice cooks fish in ceviche. It’s simply the acid doing its work.

So I bring to you a recipe I adapted from reading many different recipes for Brussels sprouts salads – this one a bit more festive, since it is that time of year!
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Salad of Brussels Sprouts with Dried Cranberries and Hazelnuts, served with an Apple-Maple Vinaigrette

vinaigrette:
1/2 cup olive or hazelnut oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup apple juice or cider
1 tablespoon real maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt.

Combine these ingredients in a mini blender.
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Blend until smooth; set aside.
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salad:
Brussels sprouts
Toasted hazelnuts
Dried cranberries

First, thinly slice the Brussels sprouts using a knife or the blade fitting on your food processor. Or, use a mandolin like I did. However, since getting a tip from Richard at REMCooks.com, I have purchased a Kevlar glove to use with the mandolin, to avoid any emergency room trips.

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Thinly slice the Brussels sprouts, without getting too close to the stem ends, which are woody. Slice as many as desired; I only made a small salad for myself. How big a salad you make is up to you.
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Add some of the dressing and toss. Then let the Brussels sprouts sit for about 30 minutes to let them soften.
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The hazelnuts and cranberries can be tossed in with the salad, but I chose to just sprinkle them on the salad itself.
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I served my Brussels sprouts salad with some grilled salmon, but just about any protein would work.
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verdict: The salad was very cabbage-like, which is fine, because I like cole slaw, which is also cabbage. However, I think I prefer my Brussels sprouts hot with browned butter.