When planning a holiday meal, we tend to spend all our attention on fancy apps, an impressive main, or a showstopping dessert. If there’s time, we might pull out a few more stops for a signature cocktail. But all of that prep doesn’t leave much energy for the equally important sides. Enter the good old-fashioned salad. A well-composed option can be the breath of fresh air in an otherwise indulgent meal, and help your guests from falling into a total food coma. We’ve rounded up 10 options that are vegetarian-friendly and anything but boring.
1. Candied Pecan, Pear, and Pomegranate Salad: You can’t go wrong with a classic. This autumn salad has all the seasonal goodies, plus a raspberry-poppyseed dressing, feta, and fresh greens. (via Chelsey’s Messy Apron)
2. Tahini Kale Caesar Salad With Cornbread Croutons: For a twist on the classic Caesar, try this hearty kale version. The homemade cornbread croutons are a nice nod to the harvest season. (via Cake Over Steak)
3. Brussels Sprouts Salad With Apples and Candied Walnuts: This warm salad is super satisfying. You’ll cook the sprouts along with an apple over a skillet, and the whole thing gets topped off with crunchy, brown sugar-sweetened walnuts. (via Diethood)
4. Lemon Garlic Roasted Broccoli Salad: It’s easy enough to whip up on a weeknight, but with pretty pomegranate seeds and avocado, it’s also got enough pizzazz for your holiday table. (via Half Baked Harvest)
5. Romaine, Radicchio, and Endive Salad: If you’re looking for something understated yet elegant, go for this simple salad. It won’t compete with anything else on the table but is still pretty enough to look right at home alongside rich roasts and homemade rolls. (via Martha Stewart)
6. Arugula Kale Reggiano Salad: Swap this in for an upgrade on your typical mixed greens. Toasty pine nuts offer just the right amount of crunch, and the lemony Champagne vinaigrette and Parmesan are a perfect complement to the bitter greens. (via How Sweet Eats)
7. Butternut Squash and Cranberry Quinoa Salad: If you’re cooking for vegetarians, consider a hearty salad that can fill up bellies as easily as your Thanksgiving turkey. (via Little Broken)
8. Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad With Roasted Beets, Pecans, and Goat Cheese: Looking for a great make-ahead option? Raw Brussels sprouts will benefit from a little time soaking in the mustard and apple cider vinaigrette. Colorful beets keep this dish looking festive. (via Foodiecrush)
9. Roasted Cauliflower Salad With Lemon Tahini Dressing: It takes a bit of prep for the tahini dressing and spicy chickpea topping, but we promise it’s worth it. Plus, you can make all the components ahead of time and assemble before serving. (via Budget Bytes)
10. Radicchio, Pear, Gorgonzola, Pomegranate, and Walnut Salad: This one takes the prize for most stunning salad. It’s filled with plenty of autumn colored jewel tones, and with walnuts and Gorgonzola, it also hits all the right notes. (via A Beautiful Plate)
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