Monday, November 14, 2011

There are many staples on the Thanksgiving table including turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, and pumpkin pie. Adding tasty side salads are a lively way to dress up your menu and an easy way to experiment with new recipes. Not only do salads travel well, most can be prepared a day ahead of the big meal, giving you more time with your family.

Did You Know?

Turkey Day Tidbits
— The first Thanksgiving celebration lasted three days.
— Mashed potatoes, pumpkin pies and corn were not foods present on the first Thanksgiving table.
— Lobster, rabbit, chicken, fish, squashes, beans, chestnuts, hickory nuts, onions, leeks, dried fruits, maple syrup and honey, radishes, cabbage, carrots, eggs, and goat cheese are thought to have been part of the first Thanksgiving feast.
— The Pilgrims did not use forks; they ate with spoons, knives, and their fingers.

Orange Salad

I received the recipe for this sweet salad from my teaching colleague, Connie Farley. Connie brought it for a staff luncheon and I asked for the recipe to make for our Easter dinner. Interestingly, Connie’s daughter-in-law is Suzy (Vincent) Hider, daughter of Gene and Loa Dawn Vincent, of Carroll. A few years ago, I saw a wedding photo of Connie’s son, Jon and Suzy in Connie’s classroom and immediately recognized her.
1 (3 oz) pkg tapioca pudding
1 (3 oz) pkg vanilla pudding, not instant
1 (3 oz) pkg orange jello
2¾ cups hot water
1 medium container Cool Whip, thawed
1 tall can mandarin orange, drained
1 small can pineapple tidbits
Cook the two puddings in water until thick. Add dry jello to pudding and cool. Fold in Cool Whip and drained fruit. Transfer to serving bowl and chill.

Strawberry Pretzel Salad

If you are a fan of sweet and salty, you will love this salad. There are quite a few versions of this side dish/dessert, but my mom, Ann Wilson, has found this one sets up nicely.
2½ cups coarsely crushed pretzels
¾ cup melted butter
4 T sugar
8 oz cream cheese
1 cup sugar
2 cups Cool Whip
1 large pkg strawberry jello
2 (10 oz) pkgs frozen strawberries
Partially thaw the strawberries. Combine crushed pretzels, butter, and 4 T sugar. Press into bottom of a 9 x 13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Cool completely. Soften cream cheese and beat in 1 cup sugar. Fold in Cool Whip. Spread on cooled crust and chill. Dissolve jello in 1 ½ cup boiling water. Stir in strawberries until thawed. Refrigerate until almost set. Pour over the cream cheese layer. Chill for several hours until completely set. Cut into squares and top with additional whipped cream, if desired.

Frozen Fruit Salad

This recipe is taken from “The Best from Helen Corbitt’s Kitchens.” Corbitt was an American chef and cookbook author. She was the longtime director of Food Services at Neiman-Marcus and operated the Zodiac room in Dallas. Her recipes are timeless and delicious.
½ cup canned Royal Anne cherries, cut in halves and pitted
½ cup canned Bing cherries, cut in halves and pitted
½ cup canned pears, diced and drained
½ cup canned pineapple, diced
2 Tablespoons powdered sugar
½ cup pineapple juice
½ cup mayonnaise
¼ teaspoon lemon rind, grated
1 cup whipping cream, whipped
½ cup marshmallows, diced (optional)

Mix cherries and diced fruits and set aside to drain. Drain pineapple, reserving juice. Dissolve sugar into fruit. Mix pineapple juice, mayonnaise and lemon rind. Fold in whipped cream, fruit, and marshmallows. Put in molds or a loaf pan and freeze.

Butter Mint Salad

My mom gave me the recipe for this unusual salad that combines the flavor of mint with lime and pineapple.

Mix together:
1 small pkg. lime jello (dry)
1 large can crushed pineapple, undrained
Stir in one (10 oz) pkg miniature marshmallows (3 cups).
Let set overnight or 8 hours. Add 2 cups Cool Whip and ¼ teaspoon mint extract. Crush one (7 oz pkg) buttermints with hammer (the buttermints are yellow and not filled). Add to jello mixture. Place in a 9 by 13 inch pan and freeze or it can be refrigerated.

Twenty-Four-Hour Fruit Salad

Many holiday recipes include marshmallows. They add a festive touch with just the right amount of sweetness.

1 (20 oz) can crushed pineapple in juice, undrained
1 (16 ½ oz) can pitted white cherries, drained
1 (11 oz) can mandarin oranges, drained
3 egg yolks, lightly beaten
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons white vinegar
1 Tablespoon butter
¼ teaspoon salt
2½ cups miniature marshmallows
1 cup whipping cream, whipped
Drain pineapple, reserving 2 Tablespoons juice. Combine pineapple, cherries and oranges; chill. Combine reserved juice, egg yolks, and next 4 ingredients in saucepan; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture boils and thickens (about 5 minutes.) Cool completely. Stir fruit into egg yolk mixture; fold in miniature marshmallows and whipped cream, and chill for 24 hours.
Makes 8 servings

Cranberry Gelatin Salad

Since this tangy salad keeps well, my mom makes it a day ahead for the holiday menu.
1pkg (6 oz) cherry gelatin
1 ½ cups boiling water
1 can (20 oz) crushed pineapple, undrained
1 can (16 oz) whole-berry cranberry sauce
1 ½ cups seedless red grapes, halved
¼ cup chopped pecans
In a large bowl, dissolve gelatin in water. Stir in pineapple and cranberry sauce. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Stir in grapes and pecans. Pour into a 2-quart serving bowl. Refrigerate until firm.
Makes 8-10 servings

Colorful Vegetable Salad

With its Christmas-y colors, this salad is a very merry part of the holiday menu. It serves a big group, but since it also keeps well in the refrigerator, you can look forward to the tasty leftovers too.
6 cups broccoli florets
6 cups cauliflower florets
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 large red onion, sliced
1 can (6 oz) pitted ripe olives, drained and sliced (optional)
1 pkg ranch salad dressing mix
1/3 cup vegetable oil
¼ cup vinegar
In a large bowl, toss the broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, onion and olives. In a container with a tight-fitting lid, combine dressing mix, oil and vinegar; shake well. Pour over salad and toss. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

Mixed Green Salad with Oranges, Dried Cranberries, and Pecans

Why use a bottled salad dressing when homemade vinaigrette is this easy to prepare? The bright, fresh flavors star in this holiday salad. The colors of this salad are perfect for Christmas.

1 cup, plus 3 Tablespoons orange juice
6 Tablespoons dried cranberries
3½ Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon grated orange peel
6 cups mixed baby greens
3 oranges, peel and white pith removed, segmented
¾ cup pecans, toasted

Bring 1 cup orange juice to simmer in heavy small saucepan. Remove from heat. Mix in dried cranberries. Let stand until softened, about 30 minutes. Drain well; discarding soaking juice.

Whisk oil, vinegar, orange peel and remaining 3 Tablespoons orange juice in small bowl to blend. Mix in cranberries. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper (dressing can be prepared 1 day ahead). Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Place greens in large bowl. Toss with 2/3 of dressing. Divide greens among 6 plates. Add orange segments to bowl; toss with remaining dressing. Top salads with orange segments and pecans.