Thanksgiving Recipe Roundup

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A roundup of my favorite Thanksgiving appetizers, sides, entrees and desserts - some healthy, some decadent! 

T-10 days till Thanksgiving!  I couldn’t be more excited.  Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, and we're hosting this year.  My mom is driving up from Atlanta, my brother will be in town from Italy, and we'll also have Scott’s Columbia family over.  Not only that, but this year Thanksgiving coincides with the first day of Hanukkah, creating a crazy hybrid holiday that won't occur again for another thousand years or so.

Does it surprise you I'm so enthusiastic about a holiday normally associated with gluttony?  It shouldn’t.  One of the secrets to a healthy lifestyle is sharing food with people you love.  Food is how we celebrate our culture and heritage, and I can think of no better holiday than Thanksgiving for that.
Like most families, we have a few traditional foods that always make an appearance on Thanksgiving.  Lunch is always appetizers we nibble while finishing our cooking. It's always a selection of yummy cheeses paired with my mom’s vanilla spiced nuts, dried fruit and crostini.  I have a really bad habit of filling up on cheese!  We also serve a homemade dip or two and a couple finger foods.  For dinner, my mom always makes her sweet potato casserole, which probably should be renamed brown sugar and butter casserole to be politically correct.  She also make a mean stuffing studded with mushrooms, chestnuts and currants and roasted turkey and root vegetables, which is transformed into the absolute best turkey matzo ball soup.  Each year, I try a few new dishes for sides and bake a decadent dessert.  Scott even pitches in a homemade pecan pie, which he is attempting to find the perfect recipe for. 

Appetizers

Maple Vanilla Flax Roasted Almonds (Top with Cinnamon) – Nothing can top my mom’s vanilla spiced nuts, but I’m not ready to give up that recipe, so this will have to do. This is a great recipe to make a big batch of over the holidays and keep on the table for healthy nibbling instead of a candy bowl.

Wild Mushroom Triangles – Cooking on Thanksgiving can get a little overwhelming.  These can be made in advance and stored in the freezer until ready to bake.  

Citrus Olives with Rosemary and Garlic (Authentic Suburban Gourmet) – Olives are a quick accompaniment to a cheese plate.  Adding citrus zest, rosemary and garlic makes them Thanksgiving worthy.
 

Crunchy Roasted Chickpeas (How Sweet Eats) – Seriously, these are a million times better than potato chips.  Make sure you serve them straight out of the oven.

Gravlax (Love & Olive Oil) – For the past few years, my mom has made gravlax for Thanksgiving, which is a Swedish dish of salmon cured in aquavit or gin, dill and fennel.  We serve it with a mustard-dill sauce and crackers.  I especially love it with super crispy ryvita flatbreads, which are 100% whole grain.
Homemade Gluten Free crackers  (My new roots) – Or hey, try your hand at making your own crackers!  These gluten free crackers are made with quinoa, brown rice and tahini.
Chevre Stuffed Medjool Dates (Authentic Suburban Gourmet) – I love the whole sweet and salty thing.  Plus, I consider it a personal mission to sneak cheese in to everything on Thanksgiving.  Hey, it's Thanksgiving!  Why not!
Parmesan Brussels Sprouts Crostini (How Sweet Eats) – Crostini is a perfect appetizer for Thanksgiving, since you can make the topping in advance and serve it over quickly toasted crostini.  

Sides

Creamy Vegan Scalloped Potatoes (Edible Perspective) I love this vegan take on potato gratin.  Instead of baking sliced potatoes with cream and cheese, this recipe has a sauce made with pureed squash and cashews.

Celery Root and Cauliflower Puree with Garlicky Greens (Gourmande in the Kitchen) – When I make mashed potatoes, I always end up mixing my veggies into it as I eat, so I love that this recipe already has them included.  

Dijon Braised Brussels Sprouts (Smitten Kitchen) – Brussels sprouts are my favorite fall vegetable and they always find their way into our Thanksgiving.  I've only roasted or sauteed them, but I'll be trying these braised Brussels this year.

Parsnip Latkes (Smitten Kitchen) – Celebrating Thanksgivukah this year?  Instead of mashed potatoes, try your hand at latkes, which are pan-fried, shredded potatoes.  To me, parsnips have a more interesting flavor than potatoes.

Fondant Sweet Potatoes (Healthyfully Ever After) – Fondant potatoes have been lightly pan-fried, then roasted with chicken stock in the oven.  The result is a crispy edges with a tender interior.  This looks a million times better than marshmallow covered casserole, and not just because I have an odd marshmallow phobia.  

Pimento Mac and Cheese (Bon Apetit) – My all time favorite macaroni and cheese.  I was actually wanted to shed a tear after finishing my last bite of leftovers.  To make a sauce reminiscent of pimento cheese, a classic Southern spread, this recipe uses sharp cheddar pureed with piquillo peppers and shredded fresh mozzarella for extra creaminess.  You know a macaroni and cheese is good when you get cheese strings with each bite!

Farro, Maple Roasted Squash, Kale Salad (La Buena Vida) – I made this last year and it turned out to be my favorite dish. The chewy faro pairs perfectly with sweet and creamy roasted squash, bitter kale and briny feta.  Plus, the leftovers make a nice, light post Thanksgiving lunch.

Kale Dressing (Bon Apetit) - The flavor profiles in this dressing kind of remind me of Zuni Cafe's famous roast chicken with bread salad. We might need two dressings this year.

Roasted Garlic, Cheddar and Cauliflower Gratin (Naturally Ella) - How delicious is this flavor combination? Anything roasted garlic gets my vote...except maybe ice cream. 

Entrees

Squash and Mushroom Tart (Joy the Baker) - Mushrooms have a meaty, umanmi flavor which makes them a perfect meat stand-in for your vegetarian guests, and an elegant side dish for those who partake in the turkey.

Chili-Roasted Turkey with Chorizo Cornbread Stuffing (Food & Wine) - If you find turkey bland, try this spicy take on Thanksgiving.

Goat Cheese Stuffed Quail Wrapped with Bacon (Food & Wine) - Maybe you're just sick of turkey altogether?  I love the idea of serving stuffed quail, a small bird that cooks quickly, so it won't use up as much precious oven time as turkey.

Hazelnut and Mushroom Loaf (me!) - This vegetarian loaf is packed with classic Thanksgiving flavors like nutmeg, thyme and rosemary.

Cheesy Stuffed Pumpkin (Honest Fare) - Vegetarians need a main dish too!  This stuffed pumpkin would look so gorgeous on a holiday plate.

Desserts

Winter Squash Pies (Adventures in Cooking) - How gorgeous is this plating?  If someone at your table is gluten-free, this would be the perfect dessert.

Salted Honey Ice Cream (A Cozy Kitchen) - Pie without ice cream on Thanksgiving is blasphemous.  If you're feeling especially motivated, try making your own.

Pumpkin Crème Brulee (Love and Olive Oil) - Look beyond the standard pumpkin pie.  Individual creme brulee baked in mini-ramekins would be a perfect finish to an elegant Thanksgiving dinner.

Triple Chocolate Pumpkin Pie (Love & Olive Oil) - Confession time.  I'm not a big fan of pumpkin pie...or pecan pie (sorry Scott!).  But if you add chocolate?  I will fight you for leftovers.

Mini Pies with Pears and Blue Cheese (Share my Kitchen) - I already told you for Thanksgiving, I try to sneak cheese into everything, including dessert.  These mini pies are adorable.  They almost remind me of a cheese course in pie form.

Deep Dish Apple Pie with Cheddar Crust (Food & Wine) - Apple pie is kinda boring.  Adding cheddar cheese to the crust might sound a little odd, but it brings the whole sweet and salty thing to the table.

Vegan Apple and Oat Tartlettes (Green Kitchen Stories) -On principle, I'm completely opposed to healthy desserts on Thanksgiving.  But if you must, I think these apple and oat tarts are the way to go.