The Thanksgiving Salad That Proves Cranberries Aren't The Only Festive Fruit

When Thanksgiving arrives, the spotlight shines brightly on traditional dishes like turkey, ham, stuffing, green bean casserole, and mashed potatoes — and rightly so. However, there's one underrated yet remarkable menu option that deserves a seat at the table: the Thanksgiving fruit salad. Whether eaten as a starter or side, the vibrant medley of fruits not only brings forth a pop of color but also offers a delightful tapestry of flavors and textures, adding an undoubtedly palate-cleansing fare to the holiday feast.

A key player in the salad is the humble cranberry. Often overshadowed by their more famous role in cranberry sauce, the tiny crimson jewels — which likely hail from either Wisconsin or Massachusetts — bring a burst of tartness in each bite. But the star power doesn't stop at cranberries. Sliced apples introduce a refreshing crunch and a bright juiciness to the mix. Oranges, grapes, and pears bring flavor contrasts and a softer texture. Ruby-hued pomegranate seeds provide a tangy juiciness that harmonizes beautifully with other ingredients.

You can also whip up a fall harvest salad this Thanksgiving

The options are virtually endless as far as making a Thanksgiving salad that showcases fall fruits like apples, cranberries, and pomegranate seeds. You can even incorporate them in a fall harvest salad with vegetables and nuts. For instance, the earthiness of roasted butternut squash provides a warm, comforting element that embodies the season. Cubed sweet potatoes bring a hearty, creamy quality to the salad. Pecans — whether toasted, candied, or spiced — impart a satisfying vigor and buttery taste. Pepitas and pumpkin seeds lend a quintessential autumnal flair. If you're a fan of Brussels sprouts (some folks have a strong aversion to them), the cruciferous superfood has the power to form a melt-in-your-mouth profile.

Of course, a salad isn't a salad without a luscious base. A bed of dark leafy greens, such as kale, spinach, collards, or arugula, can act as an invigorating canvas. Greens not only boost the salad's nutritional value but also create a pleasant dimension and balance. Last but not least, top everything off with a dash of zest via the proper dressing, which plays a crucial role in tying any salad together. A maple vinaigrette, for example, complements the various fruits and veggies and amplifies their individual flavors. Not keen on the ambrosial tree sap? Try an elegant lemon poppyseed dressing, sharp bleu cheese crumbles, or even a drizzle of honey mustard. The salad delivers a welcome respite from the indulgent dishes that dominate the Thanksgiving spread.