Thanksgiving Side-Dish Face-Off: Winner of the salad round

vs.

Shaved Root Vegetable Salad Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad

Raw. Healthy. Pretty. These salads have it all. But only one can win the Thanksgiving Side-Dish Face-Off.

Whether you’re hosting or bringing a dish, Thanksgiving side dishes should strive for two things: being fairly easy to make amid a dozen other things going on in the kitchen, and convincing everyone at the table that you are a genius. That’s what everyone goes for, right? The ability to say, “Oh, that? It was easy to make!” and sort of mean it while also presenting something that looks quite complex.

Both of these dishes win in that regard. They’re not hard to make. They’re essentially fun takes on slicing — one through a mandolin and the other through a shredder — that result in unexpected salads.

So let’s stack these dishes up according to some common Thanksgiving conundrums:

Easier to make: Shaved Root Vegetable Salad. If you have a mandolin, anyhow.
Will impress people at the table: Shaved Root Vegetable Salad. It’s just so pretty. Seeing paper-thin radishes hanging out with beets — it’s hard to beat (see what I did there?) that. The Kale and Brussels Sprout salad was just green on green, though it pepped up once I turned it into Kale Slaw.
Can be prepped ahead of time: Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad. In fact, massaging the kale with salad dressing and letting it sit for a day helped bring the flavors together. Yeah, I got sensual with my salad. So?
Will satisfy fussy eaters: Both lose here. But they’ll satisfy smart eaters. Focus on them.

All that said, the ultimate winner is … the Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad.

As gorgeous as the Shaved Root Vegetable Salad is, you’re still eating a plate of raw root vegetables. Healthy and beautiful, yes, but so is the Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad. Using a familiar ingredient in a new way, where the taste still comes through but it’s transformed into a new texture, worked really well. And one batch lasted for several days. I do recommend the Kale Slaw trick with your leftovers — it added a nice sweetness, and brought more color to the dish. I was really happy with how it turned out.

The Shaved Root Vegetable Salad looks so great, but each bite is just a raw root vegetable with some dressing. It has a great wow factor if you plate each serving individually … but who does that on Thanksgiving? We’re looking for stuff that’s OK getting trampled by mashed potatoes and drowned in cranberry sauce and gravy. The Shaved Root Vegetable Salad is too dignified for such things.

Throw the Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad on your Thanksgiving menu for an easy-to-make, filling, unique crowd pleaser.

Next Up: Some traditional dishes take on some modern dishes. We’re talking green bean casserole and Israeli couscous with butternut squash.

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4 thoughts on “Thanksgiving Side-Dish Face-Off: Winner of the salad round

  1. I am afraid of beets, there, it’s out there now for the world to see. I want to like them, I really do, but they usually taste like pickled dirt. I’m not sure if I’ve ever really had raw beets, thats too exotic for up here. I have to say though, Cavan, you really make me want to root for beets. I love brussels sprouts, but damn you Cavan, you still make me want to root for beets. I’m so confused right now…

  2. Everytime I read your blog, I snort-laugh like 3 times per post. And I think, “We should be friends.” And then I think, “I’d have to be a better vodka-drinker probably.” I love the face-off and can’t wait for the next one.

    • Aw — thanks, Liz! I really appreciate that. And if you’re not good at vodka-drinking, I think that just means I’d get more, and that would only strengthen our friendship. I love your blog too — the photos are incredible!

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