Ok…I know I’m a bit late on this post! I just returned home from my vacation to Australia but I couldn’t pass by Thanksgiving without doing a blog post! I know it’s a bit late and American Thanksgiving is Thursday, but it wouldn’t feel right if my all-time favorite holiday passed without sharing a recipe and some thoughts.
We had our Thanksgiving dinner last night and invited over a few close friends to keep it casual. I had prepared well over the weekend so instead of my usual mad, frantic rush the day-of, it was actually a calm and enjoyable day! Festive decorations crept out from storage, fir-scented candles were lit that brightened the house from all corners, and the sun shone on the snowy white trees outside. As friends began to trickle in, our dog Harvey was there to greet them with a big grin and kisses. Soon our house was filled with guests sipping homemade, curried butternut squash soup from mugs and wine bottles being cracked.
My friend kept referring to this Thanksgiving as “Friendsgiving” and before we dove into the bounty on our plates, we each went around the room and said one thing we were thankful for. Thanksgiving really is a time to reflect and be grateful for all the blessings life and the universe has given us. Thanksgiving isn’t just about the smell of a roasting turkey wafting through the house or about the “perfect” table scape. It’s about a long dinner table that seats all your loved ones, having so many friends and family together that you need extra tables and chairs to accommodate the extra love. It’s about gratitude for mother nature’s bounty and gratitude for the important people in our lives. I see food at Thanksgiving as an avenue for everyone to come together and give thanks. The day wouldn’t be complete without the large spread of food but it also wouldn’t be the same without as many family and friends around as possible.
I tend to go a bit crazy around Thanksgiving…by crazy I mean cooking for days, trying new dishes, and deciding the night before that 8 sides just isn’t enough and adding one more to the menu. This year, since I’m pregnant and trying to slow down a bit, my goal was to have an easy, casual but just as special Thanksgiving. I didn’t plan on sharing all of these recipes, but after last night and the unanimous response I got from everyone, I had to add the “Farro, Squash, and Kale Stuffing” to this post. You know the vegan dishes are winners when all the “meat-and-potatoes” guys gobble it up!
Not sure what to do with all those leftovers?! Turn those sweet potatoes into muffins, a smoothie, or even add some to quinoa to make a sweet potato/quinoa cake that you can top with sautéed greens and a poached egg! The glazed pecan recipe makes a bit more pomegranate molasses than you’ll need, so use the leftover molasses for this amazing Muhammara dip from “Honey and Vanilla”. Sooooo good! With the leftover swiss chard gratin, you can make a variation of spanikopita with a bit of pastry. And the Farro, Squash, and Kale Stuffing can be turned into soup with some added beans or even just top a salad with it!
SOME TIPS FOR SURVIVING THANKSGIVING COOKING:
- Plan ahead. Write out the things you want to cook and determine what things can be done ahead of time. Even if its just making one of the components of a dish, roasting the veggies, making the whole grain (like the faro in the stuffing recipe) or cutting the veggies for a dish, every little bit helps.
- Decorate the day before or have others help set the table right before dinner. No need to worry about this while your veggies are sautéing!
- Enlist other guests to help. Don’t feel like you failed because other people are bringing dishes! The holidays are a time for people to come together and having everyone bring food makes the table even more diverse and full of love.
- Try not to choose too many dishes that need heating in the oven, especially if you have a turkey to cook as well! My husband cooked our turkey in a smoker, so the oven was all mine, but I was still careful to only have 3 dishes that needed oven-lovin. The remainder could be heated on the stove in water baths or in its own pot.
- Keep the wine and eggnog flowing!
I hope everyone has a beautiful and joyous Thanksgiving! As you sit down to your dinner this year, ask yourself what your most thankful for and perhaps let everyone else at the table know just how important they are.
- 5 large sweet potatoes
- 2 cups pomegranate juice
- 1 Tablespoon maple syrup
- 2 cups pecans or walnuts
- 2 Tablespoons ghee or butter (coconut oil for a vegan option, but butter and ghee work better for flavour)
- 1 large red onion, sliced
- 2 1/2 teaspoons cardamom
- 2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh nutmeg
- 1 1/2 cups light coconut milk
- salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 400.
- Pierce the potatoes on all sides with a fork and place on a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet. Place in the oven and bake at 400 for 1 1/2 - 2 hours depending on the size. They will be soft to the touch when fully cooked.
- While the potatoes bake, prepare the pomegranate molasses. Bring the pomegranate juice to a boil then lower to a simmer. Simmer the pomegranate juice over medium-low heat for 50 minutes to create a pomegranate molasses. The juice should reduce down to approximately 1/3 cup of pomegranate molasses. Mix 2 Tablespoons of the pomegranate molasses with the maple syrup and toss with the pecans or walnuts. Spread on a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet and bake for 8 minutes at 400 F (you can add to the oven with the sweet potatoes), being careful they don't burn. Remove and set aside.
- While the pomegranate juice reduces down, prepare the onions. Heat the ghee or butter over low heat in an iron skillet. Add the sliced red onions and cook over low heat for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally, ensuring they don't stick to the pan. Add more ghee or butter if needed, but the onions will release juices and you shouldn't need additional ghee/butter. Just be sure to keep an eye on the onions and keep stirring.
- When the potatoes are done, cut them open and scrape out the insides. Transfer the insides to a bowl and add the cardamom, ginger, nutmeg, and one cup of coconut milk. Mash with a potato masher, or blend with an immersion blender or in a blender. Depending on the size of the potatoes, you may need more coconut milk, so start with one cup and add more accordingly. Season with salt and pepper.
- Transfer the potatoes to a baking dish and top with the caramelized onions and pomegranate pecans.
- You can bake the potatoes and scrape out the insides the night before to save time.
- The pomegranate glazed nuts can also be made ahead of time.
- This dish can be eaten right away or made ahead of time, leaving the nuts off while reheating in the oven and adding them to the top right before serving.
- 1 can white beans like navy or cannellini (I used navy), drained
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 clove of garlic, chopped
- a few cracks of pepper
- 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 Tablespoons of coconut oil
- 1 large red onion
- 6 cloves of garlic
- 3 heads of swiss chard, washed and roughly chopped*
- 4 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme
- 1 extra small celery root, outer layer cut off, inside sliced thin (you will not need the whole celery root)
- 1 cup of whole grain breadcrumbs or 3 slices of your favorite bread (stale)
- 3 teaspoons coconut oil, ghee, or butter (melted)
- To make the sauce, combine all sauce ingredients in a food processor, except for the extra virgin olive oil. Blend until fully combined. With the food processor running, add the extra virgin olive oil. Set the sauce aside.
- In an iron skillet over medium-low heat, sauté the onion with the coconut oil for 3 minutes or until soft. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute. Add the swiss chard and thyme and sauté for 2 minutes or until the swiss chard is wilted, stirring constantly. Add 2 large pinches of salt. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese sauce. Transfer half the swiss chard mixture to a baking dish. Layer the slices of celery root over the mixture, overlapping the slices. Spoon the remaining swiss chard mixture over the top. Set aside.
- If you can't find whole grain or gluten free breadcrumbs and want to make your own, take 3 pieces of stale, bread and pulse in a food processor until crumbs have formed. Now you have breadcrumbs! Add 3 teaspoons of melted coconut oil, butter, or ghee to the bread crumbs and pulse to combine. If using coconut oil, add a large pinch of salt as well.
- Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the swiss chard mixture. Bake for 30 minutes at 350F. After 30 minutes, turn the heat up to "Broil" and broil for 1 minute, watching carefully that it doesn't burn. Remove from the oven and enjoy!
- I had to cook the swiss chard in batches because my skillet wasn't big enough, so I cooked half of the onions with half the coconut oil, half the garlic, half the swiss chard and half the thyme. Then repeated.
- You can pre-make the dish, leaving off the breadcrumbs until you bake the gratin.
- 1 small acorn squash, cut into bite-size cubes (approximately 7 cups)
- 4 Tablespoons coconut oil, divided
- salt and pepper
- 1 1/2 cups farro
- 3 stalks of celery, diced
- 1 leek, green end removed, and sliced
- 8 large cremini or brown mushrooms, cubed
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/3 cup of dry white wine
- 1/3 cup of vegetable stock
- 1 1/2 apples, chopped or cubed
- 1/2 a bunch of kale, chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh italian parsley, chopped
- 8 sage leaves, chopped
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup of cranberries
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- While the oven is preheating, prepare the farro. Rinse the farro under running water and add to a pot with 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil, cover, and turn down the heat to low. Simmer the farro for 40 minutes. Drain the extra water and set aside.
- While the farro is cooking, prepare the squash. Spread the cubed squash over a large baking dish and toss with salt, pepper, and 3 Tablespoons of the coconut oil. If you don't want to melt the coconut oil first, place it in the baking dish with the squash, then once it has been in the oven for a few seconds and has melted, toss together with the squash. Bake at 400F for 25-30 minutes, depending on the size of your cubes. Once cooked through, set aside.
- While the squash and farro are cooking prepare the vegetables. In a large cast-iron skillet, heat the coconut oil over medium-low heat. Add the celery and cook for a couple minutes until softened. Add the leek and mushrooms and continue cooking until these have softened, another couple of minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute, until the garlic becomes fragrant. Add the white wine and stock and let this cook down for about 5-7 minutes. Add the apples and sauté for another minute, stirring frequently. Add the kale, parsley, sage, thyme, salt, and cranberries and stir to combine. Let it sit on the heat for another minute or two, stirring occasionally then remove from the heat.
- Combine the squash, farro, and vegetables in a large baking dish. This can be eaten right away or reheated in the oven prior to serving.