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Thanksgiving salad in a large white serving bowl sits atop a white textured surface. A blue and white linen napkin, a few sprigs of fresh thyme, and a few pieces of pomegranate and loose pomegranate arils rests alongside the serving bowl. Two serving spoons rest inside the bowl.

Thanksgiving Salad with Cinnamon-Cider Vinaigrette

  • Author: Jess Larson
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
  • Yield: serves 6 (as a side dish) 1x
  • Category: Side Dishes, Entrée Salads & Bowls
  • Method: Roasted, Stovetop, No-Cook
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

Made with massaged kale, wild rice, spiced sweet potatoes, maple candied nuts, & a simple cider-cinnamon vinaigrette, this Thanksgiving Salad balances the rich flavors at a traditional Thanksgiving & Friendsgiving celebration with festive flair…it just might steal the show at your Thanksgiving table this year!

Naturally vegetarian & gluten-free, easily dairy-free & vegan.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 large bunch kale, destemmed & finely sliced or shredded (roughly 6 cups shredded)
  • ⅓ cup dry wild rice or grain of choice, cooked according to package directions
  • maple spiced roasted sweet potatoes, below
  • maple spiced nuts, below
  • ½ cup pomegranate arils (about ½ medium pomegranate fruit)
  • 2 ounces goat cheese or feta, crumbled
  • cider cinnamon vinaigrette, below
  • kosher salt & ground black pepper, to season

for the maple spiced roasted sweet potatoes:

  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled & diced into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • optional: pinch cayenne pepper
  • kosher salt & ground black pepper, to season

for the maple spiced nuts:

  • ½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 1 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • optional: pinch cayenne pepper
  • kosher salt & ground black pepper, to season

for the cider-cinnamon vinaigrette:

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh herbs, such as rosemary or thyme
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 clove garlic, roughly chopped or grated
  • kosher salt & ground black pepper, to season

Instructions

  1. Prep: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or foil for easy clean up. Set aside. Cook wild rice or grain of choice according to package directions. Drain & set aside to cool or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.Thanksgiving Salad with Cider-Cinnamon Vinaigrette ingredients arranged on a creamy white textured surface: kale, goat cheese, walnuts or pecans, sweet potato, garlic, fresh herbs, kosher salt, wild rice, pure maple syrup, olive oil, chili powder, ground cumin, ground cinnamon, ground black pepper, and pomegranate.
  2. Roast the Maple Spiced Sweet Potatoes: Meanwhile, as the grains cook, prep the salad components. Place the diced sweet potatoes on one of the prepared baking sheets. Season with olive oil, pure maple syrup, chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne (if using), 1 teaspoon kosher salt & ground black pepper as desired. Toss to coat well. Arrange the seasoned sweet potatoes on the baking sheet such that they’re not crowded together & have plenty of room to roast. Roast 25-30 minutes, stirring/flipping the sweet potatoes halfway through. Remove from the oven & set aside or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Roasted Maple Spiced Sweet Potatoes rest atop a piece of brown parchment paper that lines a cream colored baking sheet. The baking sheet sits atop a creamy white textured surface.
  3. Toast the Maple Spiced Nuts: Once the sweet potatoes finish roasting, prep the maple spiced nuts. Place the chopped nuts on the second prepared baking sheet & transfer to the oven to toast for 4 minutes. While the nuts toast, prep the maple spiced coating. Add the pure maple syrup, olive oil, chili powder, ground cinnamon,& cayenne (if using) to a small bowl. Season with ½ teaspoon kosher salt & ground black pepper as desired. Whisk to combine well. Once the nuts are toasted, pull them from the oven & carefully pour the prepared maple spiced coating over the nuts, using a spatula or wooden spoon to stir & coat the nuts well. Return to the oven for another 4 minutes, stirring/flipping the nuts halfway through. Remove from the oven & set aside to cool or store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week. Roasted Maple Spiced Walnuts rest atop a piece of brown parchment paper that lines a cream colored baking sheet. The baking sheet sits atop a creamy white textured surface.
  4. Prep the Cider-Cinnamon Vinaigrette: Add the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, pure maple syrup, water, fresh herbs, cinnamon, & garlic to a small bowl or jar. Season with ½ teaspoon kosher salt & ground black pepper as desired. Whisk or shake to combine well. Set aside or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.  A small clear glass mixing bowl filled with homemade cider-cinnamon vinaigrette dressing for Thanksgiving Salad sits atop a creamy white textured surface. A small metal whisk with a wooden handle rests inside of the mixing bowl.
  5. Thanksgiving Salad assembly: Place the shredded kale in a large bowl. Drizzle a couple spoonfuls of the prepared cider-cinnamon vinaigrette over top. Use your hands to massage the kale, working the vinaigrette into the kale until the kale softens & becomes vibrantly green. Transfer the massaged kale to a serving bowl or platter. Top with the cooked wild rice or grains, maple spiced sweet potatoes, maple spiced nuts, pomegranate arils & crumbled cheese. Serve immediately, drizzled with extra cider-cinnamon vinaigrette as desired. Enjoy! [gallery columns="2" size="full" ids="23127,23653"]

Notes

  • Portions: As written, this Thanksgiving Salad recipe feeds a crowd of 6 generously as a side dish with a few other options on the table. If you’re feeding a larger crowd, feel free to double the recipe to serve 10-12 generously as a side dish. If you’re enjoying it as a main dish (we often do in the fall!), plan on it yielding 3-4 servings as written. 
  • Make-ahead/meal prep. A little meal prep goes a long way in pulling this festive salad together on Thanksgiving day! Between roasting the sweet potatoes, toasting the maple spiced nuts, cooking the wild rice, & mixing up the vinaigrette, there are many steps that can be prepared 5-7 days in advance. Pick & choose from the below list, or do it all ahead of time & all you have to do on Thanksgiving is toss it all together – easy! 
    • Destem & finely shred kale: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Place a piece of paper towel in the container to soak up any condensation or moisture. (10 minutes active prep)
    • Chop & roast sweet potatoes: Prep according to Step 2 of Recipe Directions, above. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. (10 minutes active prep)
    • Wild rice: Cook wild rice or your grain of choice according to package directions. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. (5 minutes active prep)
    • Candied nuts: Prep according to Step 3 of Recipe Directions, above. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.
    • Make the Cider-Cinnamon Vinaigrette: Prep according to Step 4 of Recipe Directions, above. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. 

Keywords: Thanksgiving salad, easy, side dish, festive salad, seasonal salad, side salad, roasted sweet potatoes, wild rice