With Thanksgiving fast approaching, it’s time to get your menu in order. Whether you’re hosting the holiday meal or a guest looking to bring the perfect dish or drink, consider these alternatives to the traditional Turkey Day fare that are sure to wow friends and family.
A chef, caterer, and wine educator, all based in Maplewood, shared their suggestions for creating a memorable meal that’ll have diners counting their blessings.
If you’re looking for an outstanding side dish, Sharing Plate‘s Monica Puri Bangia, who studied at The French Culinary Institute, offered a unique twist on this colorful member of the cabbage family:
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Orange Cream
1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half
1 tablespoon olive oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Transfer the sprouts on to a lined baking sheet. Drizzle the olive oil and sprinkle salt. Mix well and roast for about 20 minutes till soft and golden brown.
¼ cup cream
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
Zest of one orange
1/3 cup dried cranberries
Heat a wide frying pan with the oil. Add the garlic and orange zest. Saute on low heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the cream and cook for 4 to 5 minutes on medium heat. Add the Brussels sprouts and cranberries and mix well. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Add salt to taste and serve.
Known for her striking presentations and eclectic menus, the renowned Diana Hart of Diana Hart Fine Catering says she’s a New England girl at heart. So, during the holiday season, seafood is a must. This dish could serve as a comforting first course.
Seafood Chowder (gluten-free) in 30 minutes
2 cups almond milk (unsweetened)
1 cup half & half
2 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoon garbanzo fava bean flour (or rice or masa)
½ cup diced onion
¼ cup diced celery
¾ cup med diced cooked potato (gold or red best, skin on or off)
1 teaspoon dried sweet marjoram
1 bay leaf
½ tablespoon garlic powder
½ tablespoon dried thyme
2 tablespoon diced red pepper
2 cups uncooked seafood – (your picks: sea scallops, uncooked shrimp, white fish like cod cut into bites)
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Cover diced potatoes with cool water, bring to boil, then poach gently about 8 min, until just tender, drain, set aside. (If using shrimp in the shell, peel and tail and add the shells to your potato water with the potatoes for added flavor, discard after cooled.)
In a 4-qt stock pot over med heat, melt butter and immediately add dice onion and celery, bay leaf.
Stirring for 4-5 min until just tender, add your dried herbs and then the garbanzo bean flour.
Stir for two minutes and then add garlic powder and liquids slowly stirring or whisking the flour until smooth. When liquids are hot but not yet to a boil, add your seafood, fish first for two minutes then your scallops and shrimp, (if you leave the tail on it will impart more flavor) add the potatoes and peppers, salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for a few minutes. Stir in the parsley and serve.
Skip the biscuits and serve this tempting gluten-free bread instead.
Harvest “Mix-In” Cornbread
1 ½ cups cornmeal
1 cup gf baking mix (Namaste from Costco or Red Mills is great)
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
1.2 teaspoon baking soda
1 ¼ cup buttermilk
½ cup olive oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon kosher salt and more to sprinkle on top
1 ear grilled corn cut off cob
¼ cup diced red onion
¼ cup slice scallions (white and green parts)
¼ cup grated cheese- cheddar or Mexican blend
(optional- 1 diced jalapeno pepper)
Mix dry ingredients in a 2-4 qt bowl, add oil, buttermilk and eggs. Mix in corn and most of onion, scallion and cheese, leaving a little to decorate the top. Pour batter into an oiled pie dish or 9×9 square pan. Top with remaining mix-ins, sprinkle with more salt. Bake for 40-45 min in a 350’ oven. You want a golden crust, you can toothpick test for a done center.
“No need to slather butter on this as the olive oil and cheese give it the richness. Enjoy,” says Hart, who notes that the chowder and cornbread make a delicious lunch or light Saturday supper if you have guests staying through the weekend.
A Perfect Pairing
“For many, wine isn’t just something you drink while in your jammies watching Grey’s Anatomy to help you unwind after a crazy day,” says Hank Zona, wine educator and host of The Grapes Unwrapped. “It is food, or at least an important component to a great meal, and arguably the greatest meal of the year for many is Thanksgiving dinner.”
Because the turkey and all the trimmings are already heavy enough, Zona suggests going “light and bright,” by serving sparkling wines, which come in various weights from light — Prosecco — to heavy — Champagne.
“I prefer medium weight — domestic sparklers or cava from Spain or a cremant from Alsace. I also prefer a rose sparkling wine. Often pinot noir-based, it goes well with the Thanksgiving table, visually too. Or look for more acidic wines, like sauvignon blanc, or lighter reds, like many pinots. Don’t fear acidity. It is a great component for food wines,” Zona says.
The wine aficionado explains that he doesn’t offer many specific suggestions because not every wine store carries any given wine. But locavores wishing to partake in some Jersey-grown grapes should consider wines from Beneduce Vineyards and Heritage Vineyards
“Any store worth its weight ought to have staff that can guide you to choices of wine for anything mentioned here at the price you are comfortable with,” Zona advises. “It is the golden age of wine consumerism. There is an overabundance of really good quality wine from more places near and far at all price points available to us today than ever before.”
Looking for a great alternative to wine?
“I have been a big proponent of cider for a long time now,” The Grapes Unwrapped personality says. “They really can be a midpoint between wine and beer. They come in a variety of styles, from bone dry to sweet and a lot of points in between. They fit into that whole drinking local thing pretty easily. And they tend to go really well Thanksgiving food offerings.”
While Thanksgiving is about appreciating time with loved ones, serving something different and delicious can make the day even more special.