FROM THE BITTEN WORD
As with a soup, we really like the idea of serving a salad at Thanksgiving. If you're doing a sit-down dinner, a salad course can be a very nice way to help ease everyone into the meal. (And if you also do a separate soup course, you've just bought yourself an extra 20 minutes to put the finishing touches on the turkey and other side dishes.)
And even if you don't do an actual separate salad course, a salad is a good way to get some fresh, bright flavors in the menu, breaking up the parade of heavy casseroles and stuffings.
So here are our bottom-line thoughts about Thanksgiving salads:
1. We love the idea of a salad at Thanksgiving.
2. We love this Edamame, Celery and Fennel Salad.
3. We do not love this particular salad for Thanksgiving.As salads go, it doesn't get much "fresher-tasting" than this one. The verdant, crunchy celery and the piquant strips of licorice-like fennel pack a flavorful punch. And the edamade beans are firm and deliciously green. Throw in some Sriracha and candied lemon strips, and you've got one bitingly, bracingly fresh salad.
The problem -- and we know we sound like we're talking out of both sides of our mouths here -- is that, well, this salad was a little too fresh, a little too bracing.
All those bold, bright, citrusy flavors were delicious -- seriously, it's a great salad! -- but as part of a Thanksgiving dinner, they seemed out of place.
Also, we thought the dressing was a little overpowering and a bit salty. Some of the flavors, like the candied lemon, were masked by the saltiness. It was probably an error on our part -- we likely over-dressed the salad. Just remember that a little of the dressing goes a long way.
Anyway, if you like the idea of a salad course for Thanksgiving, you should think about the Fall Harvest Salad we served last year. It was a knockout salad that fit in perfectly with the other flavors of the day.
And definitely tuck this Edamame, Celery and Fennel Salad away for another day.
Total time: 1 hour
2 large lemons, very thinly sliced (preferably on a mandoline)
In a large saucepan, combine the lemon slices with 1 cup of the sugar and 2 cups of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the lemons are translucent and the liquid is syrupy, about 30 minutes. Let the lemons cool completely in the syrup, then transfer the lemons to a cutting board and finely chop them. Reserve the lemon syrup for another use.
Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Add the edamame and cook until they are tender, about 2 minutes. Drain and cool the edamame under running water; pat dry. Transfer the edamame to a large bowl. Add the sliced celery, fennel, parsley and shallot.
In a small bowl, whisk the soy sauce with the rice vinegar, sesame oil, Sriracha and the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar; season the dressing lightly with salt and pepper. Whisk in the chopped candied lemon. Add the dressing to the salad and toss well to coat thoroughly. Sprinkle the salad with the white and black sesame seeds and serve right away.
The undressed salad and the dressing can be refrigerated separately overnight. Toss the salad with the dressing and sprinkle with the sesame seeds just before serving.