Meatless Monday Recipes: Post-Thanksgiving Salads

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Happy Monday-After-Thanksgiving! I hope everyone had an excellent Thanksgiving weekend. I did, and if yours was like mine (and most of America's), it was filled with decadent foods and sweet treats we might not eat much of the rest of the year. After all the holiday indulgence, I'm craving some meals that are light and nutritious, so I thought I'd share some favorite recipes for salads. Although some salad staples such as tomatoes and cucumbers are out of season now, you can still make delicious, nutritious salads with the things that are in season. Salad greens will grow in most climates year-round, and you can marinate or bake veggies that aren't usually salad-bound for unique additions. Think sliced and sauteed zucchini or eggplant, marinated mushrooms or pickled beets! Regardless of what type of salad you make, you can whip up some easy, inexpensive homemade dressings using these recipes (or your own versions of them)!

This Herbed Three-Bean Salad relies on canned or dried beans, vinegar, oil and herbs. You can use frozen organic green beans instead of fresh if you like. This large salad serves 10 to 12.

1 pound fresh green beans, steamed until tender-crisp
15-ounce can kidney beans, drained, or 1 1/2 cups cooked dry beans
15-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained, or 1 1/2 cups cooked dry beans
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/3 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons red or white wine vinegar
About 2 tablespoons fresh savory, minced
1 tablespoon fresh marjoram, minced
Salt, pepper and sugar to taste

1. Drain beans and toss with onion and celery.
2. Whisk together olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, vinegar and herbs. Season with salt and pepper and just a pinch of sugar. Pour over beans. Let stand 30 minutes. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary.

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This African Millet Salad is filled with protein and fiber from its healthy whole grains (excerpted from The New Whole Grains Cookbook by Robin Asbell). If you can't find frozen organic corn and peppers, experiment with adding different seasonal veggies.

African Millet Salad with Corn & Peppers
Makes about 8 servings

Millet is an ancient African staple, always served soft enough to eat with the fingers. In this recipe, grains are infused with spices before cooking, and sautéing helps keep grains separate. If you like, you can substitute quicker-cooking whole wheat couscous or rice for the millet.

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, julienned (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 tablespoons fresh garlic, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon allspice, ground
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, or to taste
1 cup millet
1 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 cup fresh or frozen corn, blanched
1 small green bell pepper, chopped
1 whole Roma tomato, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 cup roasted peanuts, chopped

1. In a saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat, then sauté onion until golden. Add garlic and ginger and cook 1 minute, then add paprika, allspice and ground peppers, and cook 1 minute more.
2. Add millet to pan and stir, coating grains and cooking until hot. Add water and salt, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 20 minutes. When liquid is absorbed and grain is tender, take covered pan off heat for 10 minutes. Transfer millet to a covered bowl and let cool.
3. Make dressing by whisking remaining oil with lemon juice and brown sugar. Stir corn, bell pepper, tomato and parsley into cooled millet. Stir in dressing and serve topped with peanuts.

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This remix of Waldorf salad is perfect for winter. It comes from Andrea Chesman's excellent book, Recipes from the Root Cellar: 270 Fresh Ways to Enjoy Winter Vegetables.

Celery Root, Apple and Walnut Salad
Serves 6 to 8

This dish has the same blend of flavors as a Waldorf salad, with the advantage of being made with a root vegetable that stores well. The apples for this salad can be whatever you have on hand, although Cortlands do particularly well in salads because they are slow to brown. The blanching step is optional, but I prefer it; I think it improves the flavor and mouthfeel of celery root.

1 celery root, peeled and shredded
2 to 3 large apples, quartered, cored, and thinly sliced
1 cup walnuts, toasted
1 tablespoon lemon juice, or more to taste
1 teaspoon sugar, or more to taste
1/3 cup mayonnaise
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add celery root and cook for 1 minute. Drain well and rinse under cold running water until cool.
2. Combine celery root, apples and walnuts in a medium bowl. Sprinkle with the lemon juice and sugar. Add mayonnaise and mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. Let stand for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to develop. Taste and add more lemon juice, sugar, salt and pepper as needed, and serve. You can store the salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 hours before serving.

Kitchen Note: To toast walnuts, heat a large dry skillet over medium heat. Add the walnuts and toast, stirring frequently, until fragrant and lightly colored, about 5 minutes.