While side dishes like garlic mashed potatoes, freshly baked rolls, and marshmallow-topped sweet potatoes tend to steal the spotlight on Thanksgiving, we're making the case for putting something green at the center of your spread this year. In search of salads worthy of sitting next to the aforementioned traditional Thanksgiving sides, naturally, we turned to some of our favorite foodies—and they did not disappoint.
Filled with sweet seasonal fruits, spiced nuts, and fresh greens, the following salad recipes are special enough to serve alongside a perfectly roasted turkey and all the fixings. Even staunch carnivores will be going back for second helpings of these crazy-delicious salads. Move aside, mashed potatoes—these Thanksgiving salads deserve a spot on your holiday table.
Roasted Squash, Caramelized Fig, and Feta Salad
The Recipe: Roasted Squash, Caramelized Fig, and Feta Salad
The Standout Ingredient: The honey-roasted squash and the caramelized figs. This salad might just replace marshmallow-topped sweet potatoes as the best sweet dish on your Thanksgiving table.
The Pro Tip: "If you're new to kabocha squash, it's just another type of winter squash," explains Tieghan of Half Baked Harvest. "It's often used in Japanese cooking, but it can be used in pretty much any recipe that calls for the more common acorn or butternut squash. And if you can't find kabocha squash in your grocery, just sub in acorn squash."
Pomegranate Avocado Salad With Candied Walnuts
The Recipe: Pomegranate Avocado Salad With Candied Walnuts
The Standout Ingredient: The spicy maple candied walnuts, which take a bit of time to prepare, but when paired with sweet pomegranates and juicy persimmons, they're well worth the effort.
The Pro Tip: "No matter what your feelings are on salad, if you're serving any kind of holiday meal, you need to have something fresh and green on the table," says Tieghan of Half Baked Harvest. "Not only is this good for visual appeal, but greens [complement] most dishes and balance heavier dishes."
Citrus Brussels Sprouts Slaw
The Recipe: Citrus Brussels Sprouts Slaw
The Standout Ingredient: The vegan "bacon" bits and the almond "parm." Of course, you can substitute in real bacon and real parmesan cheese if you like, but having a vegan option makes for a more inclusive Thanksgiving spread.
The Pro Tip: "I know this one looks like a ton of ingredients, but there's a lot of overlap with relatively simple steps," confesses Laura of The First Mess. "Plus, this recipe makes extra dressing and parm for a few extra tasty meals."
Cauliflower and Roasted Chickpea Salad
The Recipe: Cauliflower and Roasted Chickpea Salad
The Standout Ingredient: The roasted chickpeas. Coated with chili powder, they add the perfect amount of spice and crunch to this delicious salad.
The Pro Tip: "If you don't have a food processor, some milling with a knife will get the cauliflower florets small enough, as long as you have the patience," offers Laura of The First Mess.
Kale and Brussels Sprout Caesar Slaw
The Recipe: Kale and Brussels Sprout Caesar Slaw
The Standout Ingredient: The creamy dressing, which gets its texture from soaked sunflower seeds and its tangy zip from tahini and tamari soy sauce.
The Pro Tip: "If you love that super creamy, almost fatty kind of texture in a creamy dressing, feel free to use soaked raw cashews in place of the sunflower seeds," advises Laura of The First Mess.
Fig and Beetroot Salad With Herb Dressing and Lentils
The Standout Ingredient: The beetroot. While it may seem time-consuming to roast veggies for a Thanksgiving salad, you can do this up to a few days ahead of time.
The Pro Tip: When it comes to describing the flavors of this salad, Sarah of Stuck in the Kitchen puts it best: "The combination of earthy lentils, sweet onions, figs, and beetroot with salty feta, cumin-spiced grilled lamb, and a zingy herb dressing… phwoar!"
Creamy Kale Salad With Chickpeas and Shallots
The Recipe: Creamy Kale Salad With Chickpeas and Shallots
The Standout Ingredient: The crispy shallots. Trust us, it's worth clearing a burner on your stovetop to make these on Thanksgiving.
The Pro Tip: "I've made many a kale salad before, but this one is special," says Dana of Minimalist Baker. "This is the answer to the question, 'what's super cozy, flavorful, and perfect for Thanksgiving?'"
Kale Salad With Pumpkin Seed Clusters
The Recipe: Kale Salad With Pumpkin Seed Clusters
The Standout Ingredient: The pumpkin seed clusters, made with cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and sugar, are equal parts sweet, spicy, and crunchy.
The Pro Tip: "To assemble the salad, toss the kale in the dressing," explains Holly of The Modern Proper. "Using your hands, squeeze or 'massage' the kale while dressing it," she advises. "This will make the kale more tender. "
Celery Pear and Hazelnut Salad
The Recipe: Celery Pear and Hazelnut Salad
The Standout Ingredient: The pears. Thinly slices of this mouthwateringly juicy seasonal fruit complement the crunchy components of this Thanksgiving salad.
The Pro Tip: For planners, this is a great make-ahead dish. You can "prep all of the components for this salad a day or two ahead of time, and once it's dressed and on [the] table the celery and fennel will stay crunchy (unlike lettuce)," says Holly of The Modern Proper.
Fall Harvest Honeycrisp Apple and Kale Salad
The Recipe: Fall Harvest Honeycrisp Apple and Kale Salad
The Standout Ingredient: The caramelized shallot vinaigrette. Pour the dressing over the salad while it's still warm, or make it in advance and pull it out of the fridge when your guests arrive.
The Pro Tip: "If you're wondering if the roasted pumpkin seeds and crispy prosciutto are worth it, they are 100% worth it," says Tieghan of Half Baked Harvest. "Salty, sweet, and crunchy, these are the best finishing touches to a fall salad."
This story was originally published on November 17, 2017, and has since been updated.