Well hello there! I’m happy you’ve made it to my itsy bitsy section of the internet today. This is gonna be a yummy and exciting week on Sweet Cayenne because every day will be devoted to Thanksgiving 2014! Whoop! Even though I’m not getting to celebrate Thanksgiving with family this year (thanks to Ryan’s travel schedule with the football team), I still want to get in the spirit and celebrate it with you, the faithful readers of my ramblings and fellow culinary adventurers. Here’s a breakdown for the week so you can know what there is to look forward to:
- Monday- Wednesday will feature a fresh, creative, healthy, and uber-delish Thanksgiving side dish.
- Thursday: Link Love – I will post the best links around the web for tips, tricks, and simple solutions for having your best Thanksgiving yet!
- Friday: Thanksgiving Q&A – send me any and all questions related to Thanksgiving throughout the week and tune in Friday to see my answers!
I decided to feature Thanksgiving sides this week for a couple of reasons. The first being that I feel like people have often determined way in advance what their star attraction on the Thanksgiving table will be. I know for many of my friends in TX it will be a fried turkey. My dad will inevitably smoke a turkey. Ordering turkeys and hams online is definitely a thing. In other words, you’ve probably got your heart set on what kind of main dish you will have. But in my opinion, the sides are usually negotiable. Sometimes you want to try something completely new or simply put a twist on an old favorite.
So let’s talk about this Massaged Kale, Apple and Cranberry Salad. I know what your thinking: “raw kale? On Thanksgiving? Sure, that will go over well. Not!” Just let me explain myself. Every time I’ve contributed a salad to a Thanksgiving gathering, it’s been one of the most welcomed items on the table. Let’s face it, Thanksgiving is butter-laden carb fest, and while you can certainly enjoy a little of everything, your taste buds, your eyes, and your body will thank you for a dish that’s fresh and colorful.
Another great thing about this dish: no cooking required. Nope. No negotiating for stove top or oven space here. The dressing can be made in advance, the kale can be massaged in advance, and all the lovely little accouterments chopped in advance. All that’s required on Turkey Day is to assemble and toss. Pretty bowl and chic serving utensils are a must.
If you are not a fan of kale or leafy greens in general, please pretty please just try kale that’s been massaged. Sound high maintenance? Not really. All we’re doing here is rubbing a little fresh lemon juice and olive oil on the leaves of the kale to tenderize them, take away bitterness, and evoke a fresh, clean flavor. Kale is such a sturdy green that you can massage it up to a day before your family feast. And salads are so much more satisfying when they include varying colors, textures and tastes. I’ve chosen to include tart chopped apples, sweet dried cherries, crunchy roasted pepitas, and salty Parmesan shavings in this one. It’s all brought together in a bright and cheery apple cider vinaigrette that will make your mouth water and tastebuds sing. Feel free to use leftover apple cider to add zing to your turkey gravy – it won’t disappoint!
- 3/4 cup fresh apple cider
- 1 whole clove garlic
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinaigrette
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Coarse Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper
- 2 bunches kale washed, stemmed and torn into bite-size pieces
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
- 2 small apples chopped into 1'' pieces (recommend Honeycrisp, Fuji, or Pink Lady)**
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/3 cup roasted pepitas I buy mine pre-roasted in the bulk section of grocery store
- 1/2 cup shredded manchego cheese
In a medium saucepan, combine the cider, garlic, thyme, and cider vinegar. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer until the liquid is reduced to 1/4 cup.
Transfer cider mixture to a bowl and whisk in the Dijon mustard. Add the oil in a slow, steady stream while whisking until it is all incorporated. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Vinaigrette can be made up to 3 days ahead and stored in the refrigerator.
Combine the kale, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt in a large bowl. Massage the liquid into the kale leaves with your fingers for about 2-3 minutes until the leaves start to look dark and shiny. The volume of the bowl will be reduced by about 1/3. This can be done up to 1 day ahead, store kale covered in the refrigerator.
To assemble the salad, add the apples, cranberries, pepitas, and manchego to kale in a serving bowl. Add the apple cider vinaigrette and toss to combine. Serve immediately.
**If you pre-chop your apples, be sure to toss them in lemon juice to prevent browning.