Your Thanksgiving Dinner Has Been Missing Fruit Salad

Thanksgiving is a holiday dripping in gravy and smothered in butter, but what about the fruit? Besides the jellied or homemade cranberry sauce dish, the turkey and stuffing-based holiday seems to be almost devoid of fresher options, but it doesn't have to be. One way to freshen up your dinner table, and celebrate the full bounty of fall is to add a fruit salad to your Thanksgiving feast. After all, fall offers a varied and delicious selection of fruits such as apples, pears, figs, and pomegranates. These can make the perfect base for a luscious and autumnal salad that can amplify the rich flavors of Thanksgiving while also offering a reprieve from the holiday foods that tend to be heavier on the tummy. 

And that salad doesn't have to be your typical fruit cocktail fare, either. You can always mix in other ingredients, such as walnuts, pecans, and craisins to add a punch of flavor. A plate of roasted pears topped with a dollop of whipped goat cheese, pecans, and a balsamic drizzle, for example, can hold its own among other more indulgent dishes while also offering a refreshing reprieve from the likes of a cream of mushroom green bean casserole. Of course, this is just one example; there are infinite directions for you to take when adding fruit salad to your Thanksgiving table.

Put the cornucopia in a bowl

For your Thanksgiving fruit salad, you can't go wrong by showcasing the bounty of the season, so keep in mind what fruits are available in the fall when preparing one. After all, a plate of watermelon, mint, and feta will probably seem out of place among your roasted carrots and mashed potatoes. Instead, opt for fruits that are in season, and don't be afraid to be adventurous. There is a whole world beyond apples and pears, after all. Persimmons, for example, would make an excellent base for your fruit salad; the sweet, mild fruit can add a lovely pop of orange to your plate. And you can't go wrong pairing them with pomegranate seeds, pumpkin seeds, or even a spiced granola crumble. Alternatively, you can focus more on combining classic fall fruits such as apples with candied pecans, blue cheese, and pears.

Either way, fruit salad can make for a delightful, and refreshing dish that pairs well with other foods on your plate. You can further tie the dish into the Thanksgiving theme with the addition of pumpkin spice or other autumnal spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg, which work well with dishes such as sweet potato casserole and can even complement the rosemary-rich cornbread stuffing. Regardless of which direction you take in preparing your fruit salad, it will certainly be a welcome addition to the table.

Going vintage with your fruit salad

But this isn't the only way you can bring freshness to the Turkey Day table. You can take your fruit salad in a vintage direction and add a touch of fun by coating cubed veggies in a sweet spread with a scoop of mini marshmallows. Thanksgiving is, after all, a holiday with deep ties to family and tradition, so you might want to whip out your mom's (or grandma's) old cookbook and try some old-school fruit salads. Dishes such as the creamy, beguilingly green Watergate salad will certainly make an interesting addition to your table.

Others, such as ambrosia salad, combine a variety of fruits with marshmallows, and whipped cream (or whipped topping), can make an interesting throwback for your dinner table, or a light dessert for the pie-averse diner. These midcentury fruit salads often meld together unexpected ingredients such as pineapple, nuts, whipped topping, marshmallows, and Jell-O mix into a fluffy and super sweet dish. While these ingredients may seem contradictory to the homemade feel of so many popular Thanksgiving dishes, they also recall the ethos of midcentury cooking, which combined many disparate prepackaged ingredients to create dishes that, while of their time, add a special something to a spread. While some of the recipes should stay in the past, the best examples deserve a spot at the table. And whatever fruit salad you choose to serve this Thanksgiving, adding a pop of sweetness is never a bad idea for such a savory holiday.