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Corn Salad with Pecan Dressing

As I think about what will be on our Thanksgiving table next week, I find that there are not only recipes but particular serving pieces that come to mind. Along with roasted turkey, Dad's famous stuffing, and pumpkin pie there will be a few sentimental accents that are a special part of my family's Thanksgiving celebration.

On Thanksgiving day we will set the table with my mother's set of Courier and Ive's ironstone. We will serve jellied cranberry sauce from a can in a particular cut glass dish, served with a particular flat round serving utensil that was a part of my mother’s set of silver flatware. We will also get out the colorful turkey platter that sat on top of the refrigerator all year waiting to be called into service to cradle the Thanksgiving turkey.

And then there is the corn bowl. It is oval and patterned like the kernels of an ear of corn peeking out from it's green husk. It was Aunt Hen's bowl and was something that captured my appreciation from the time I was a child. Now it is mine and it brings back fond memories when nestled among other heirlooms on my Thanksgiving table.

So where is there room for something new in our Thanksgiving feast? This year I think I’ll serve Corn Salad with Pecan Dressing in the corn bowl instead of plain buttered corn. It can be made ahead and is served cold so there is no last minute fuss. It is also colorful and adds a nice crunch to more traditional Thanksgiving fare. It is simple to prepare and yet the pecan dressing adds a surprisingly complex twist to the familiar ingredients.

Of course this salad is really a great recipe year round. It is easy to take along to picnics or potlucks. It is pretty and keeps well for several days. It can be served as a side dish or even as a snack to be scooped up with chips like a salsa. It can also be served warm from the microwave if the weather discourages you from eating something straight from the refrigerator.

Corn Salad with Pecan Dressing

1 bag frozen sweet corn, thawed
3 cups very small cauliflower florets (fresh or frozen)
2 cups (1 box) halved grape tomatoes

1/3 cup pecans
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/4 cup light olive oil, divided
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons snipped chives (or 2 teaspoons dried)
2 Tablespoons snipped parsley (or 2 teaspoons dried)
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Heat two tablespoons of the oil in a small saucepan. Add the garlic and pecans. Cook and stir pecans for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Let cool slightly and remove the pecans from the oil with a slotted spoon. Reserve the oil and garlic. Set pecans aside.

Combine the reserved oil and garlic, white wine vinegar, chives, parsley, sugar, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly.

In a large bowl, mix together the sweet corn, tomatoes and cauliflower florets. Add the dressing and gently mix. Cover and chill for 4 to 24 hours. Stir in pecans and serve.