Thanksgiving Recipes (wild rice salad, cranberry relish, green bean casserole, stuffing and dessert)

Here are some of my favorite recipes for Thanksgiving:

Wild Rice Salad (from Connecticut eatery Anna’s Temptations, as printed in Bon Appetit, 2006): this is always a hit. It features golden raisins, walnuts, grated carrots, scallions, dill and a delicious Dijon dressing. I leave out the chicken from the recipe, but I have also tried it with seitan “chicken,” which makes it handy if serving vegetarians. I don’t use sherry vinegar. Red wine vinegar or balsamic is fine. If you don’t use the chicken, you will need less dressing.

Another Wild Rice Salad that I love–and also a handy recipe for vegetarian guests–features chickpeas, golden raisins and a curried honey Dijon dressing.  I leave out the ham or add cubes of soy “ham” (veggie cold cuts). This recipe, oddly enough, comes from a dessert cookbook, The Pastry Queen. It was featured in 150 Best American Recipes.  The recipe comes from Paula Disbrowe and was also featured in Food and Wine Magazine.

It is nice to serve a warm bread. I love this recipe for crescent rolls which came from the 2005 Thanksgiving issue of Good Housekeeping Magazine. That issue featured Dr. Phil on the cover ( “Change your life for good! Seven decisions that will make everything better”). GH product analyst Nate Benforado contributed the recipe, and making these rolls was a decision that certainly made my Thanksgiving better. I use either water or dairy-free “milk” and oil or margarine to keep these pareve. These lovely rolls always make me think happily of the Pillsbury Dough Boy and those enticing advertisements for canned rolls.

Before latching onto this recipe, I had also tried out a Williams Sonoma recipe for Sally Lunn Herbed Rolls (here, too, I swapped out the milk and butter for non-dairy products). Delicious, sophisticated, and a little less fussy to make. But they don’t make me think of Poppin’ Fresh.

My son learned in school that corn muffins are a must, and I favor this recipe, adapted from AllRecipes.

And, then of course, another must is cranberry sauce.

When I was growing up, I remember cranberry sauce being dumped straight from the can onto a plate and sliced. That was it. It was still in the shape of the can, with the ridges and everything.

Then, we got gourmet and bought the whole cranberry sauce and added stuff to it.

My Aunt’s Easy Cranberry Nut Relish

1 can whole berry cranberry sauce
4 Tbl. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon, or more to taste
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts
2-3 Tbl. orange liqueur

Combine all ingredients and adjust flavoring to taste. Even better when made ahead.

At some point, I realized that I could make my cranberry sauce from scratch. I added my Aunt’s flavoring (cinnamon, orange) to my homemade sauce (1 cup sugar, 1 cup water or orange juice and a 12 ounce bag of cranberries).

I was so imprinted by the canned sauce that I developed the habit of cooking my sauce much longer than recommended on the bag of cranberries. This turns the mixture from a loose, fluid sauce into the thick, congealed cranberry jell of my childhood. My cranberry sauce looks and tastes like a brighter, fresher version of the canned stuff.

Stuffing–another must, but traditional bread stuffing is not something I grew up with. My Aunt (not the same aunt behind the cranberry sauce) always makes Manischewitz “Some Stuff” (now called homestyle stuffing mix). It is basically matzoh farfel pilaf.

It took me a long time to figure out bread stuffing, but now I have it down pat. It is an excellent way to use up leftover challah. I cut up leftover challah into cubes and dry it out in a slow oven to make stuffing croutons.

Homemade Stuffing #1

10 ounces of challah, cut in 1″ cubes, toasted at 275 degrees until dried out
2-3 stalks celery, plus leaves, minced
1 Vidalia onion or large sweet onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
2-3 Tbl. olive oil
1 carrot, grated
1 apple, peeled and chopped
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. poultry seasonings
1 cup broth
1 egg, beaten

Saute onion, garlic, celery, and carrot in oil with seasonings until tender and onion translucent. Add apple. Toss in bread cubes. Moisten with broth and mix in beaten egg.

Put in greased 9″x13″ casserole and bake at 350 degrees (higher temperature okay) for a half hour, or until golden.

Homemade Stuffing #2 (Mushroom Stuffing)

10 ounces of challah, cut in 1″ cubes, toasted at 275 degrees until dried out
1 green pepper, minced
2 onions, minced
1 shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 stalks celery, minced
10 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp. poultry seasoning
1 tsp. EACH fresh thyme and sage, minced
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/3-1 cup broth
1 egg

Saute onion, garlic, shallot, celery, green pepper and mushrooms in oil with seasonings until tender and onion translucent. Toss in bread cubes. Moisten with broth and mix in beaten egg.

Put in greased 9″x13″ casserole and bake at 350 degrees (higher temperature okay) for a half hour, or until golden.

Another thing I never grew up with is green bean casserole. But, the idea appeals to me. I had to adapt the idea to make it pareve.

Thanksgiving Green Beans

1 lb. green beans (string beans), cooked in 1″ water with 1/2 tsp. salt for 5-10 minutes, or until tender, and then drained and rinsed with cold water to set the bright green color
2 large shallots, thinly sliced
3 Tbl. oil, plus more as needed (probably will need another 2 Tbl.)
20 ounces crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt, pepper, to taste
pinch nutmeg
1 Tbl. flour (heaping)
3/4 cup soy milk or other non-dairy “milk”
splash sherry

Saute shallots in oil until crispy brown in frying pan. Season well with salt and pepper. Remove from pan and set aside.

Saute the mushrooms in the frying pan, adding more oil as needed (another 2 Tbl. oil). When the mushrooms give off lots of liquid, add the garlic, salt, pepper and a pinch of nutmeg. Cook down the liquid. Add the sherry and cook off the liquid. The mushrooms should be coated with oil now.

Add the flour to the mushrooms and cook a little but, stirring, to take the raw flour taste away. Add the soy milk (broth is okay, too) and cook, stirring, to make a mushroom sauce.  Adjust seasoning to taste.

Mix the green beans with the mushroom sauce in a heatproof serving dish. Top with the crispy shallots. Reheat when needed.

Bonus: I love this idea from Bon Appetit for string beans with lemon, walnuts and lemon.

One year, I made as a starter a Lentil Mushroom Pate with Hazelnuts from Martha Stewart. A real potchke, but so delicious.

Speaking of potchkes, if you are only making dessert for Thanksgiving, this pumpkin mousse cake with maple whipped topping will blow everyone away. The link will also take you to another holiday favorite: Apple Breton, which is like apple pie, but better. I also like to make pumpkin pie and pecan pie (and another pumpkin pie).

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