Ahh, the most glorious time of year is upon us. For most Americans, Thanksgiving has turned into a food festivus. To that I say – why not have a holiday that has turned into a day filled with food?
This year, I pulled together a pescetarian Thanksgiving; all organic ingredients, butter/cream free, and mostly gluten-free as well. I put a big emphasis on variety to make up for not preparing a big turkey and tried to incorporate and reconstruct traditional Thanksgiving flavors into my creations.
Caveat – As with the last Thanksgiving I hosted, pictures are scarce (sorry). I managed to snag a few before the guests arrived but once we got to dinner, I had no time/energy to even think about documenting, so some of my dishes are picture-less.
PUMPKIN MUNG-ALAGELS W/ ARUGULA BASIL SALSA VERDE
If you’re a falafel lover like me, you’ll enjoy this dish that comes packed with a holiday (and healthy) twist. Baked, not fried, but still crisp on the outside and moist inside. The pumpkin is not overbearing and the mung beans help retain the shape.
MINI JUMBO CRAB CAKES
My oxymoron of a crab cake; mini crab cakes out of jumbo crab meat. I gave the guests two options for dipping – an avocado-based tartar sauce and a simple slow-cooked tomato sauce.
These were super fun to make! My vision here was one, single bite of stuffing. I created the stuffing by sautéing roasted chestnuts, apples, celery, shallots, and fused with the ever-so aromatic Thanksgiving herbs. The shells are baked in muffin tins (so easy!). Drizzled atop is a sweet sage and balsamic reduction.
ACORN SQUASH + RICOTTA FLAT BREAD
This dish is a recreation of a similar appetizer I enjoyed @ ABC Kitchen (NYC). The ABC Kitchen rendition is made with kabocha which I really wanted to do as well. Unfortunately, Whole Foods was completely out of kabocha squash the week leading up to Thanksgiving so I went with acorn squash instead. The concept was still a success! The combination of the sweet and caramel-y squash against the “sour” ricotta and tangy vinegar are a match made in heaven.
RAW BRUSSELS SPROUT SALAD BAR
My new obsession this year has got to be raw brussels sprout. I go the manual route and shred each… little… sprout… BUT the pay-off is SO worth the labor. I promise. If you’re not a fan of brussels sprouts because all you’ve ever experienced are those soggy and over-cooked, try them raw. World of a difference. Most delicate salad. Ever. I did a play on the traditional salad bar by shredding up lots and lots of these little guys and offered side toppings for either a savory, sweet, or sweet + savory salad.
MASHED CAULIFLOWER + YUCCA ROOT W/ CHIVES
My mashed potato dish contains to potatoes at all. Instead, I mashed together cauliflower and yucca root. The result is a fluffy concoction retaining a mashed potato-like texture. And lets not forget the health factor .
My take on the traditional sweet potatoes dish was not so traditional; rather, a fusion of sophisticated flavors. I was looking for a sweet potato dish that didn’t require taking up more room in the oven, hence the tagine. I kept the sweet factor by cooking the potatoes with a little maple syrup. Added layers of flavors were a result of pretty saffron threads, a little mirin, and a dash of soy sauce. Oh, and the chives. The dish is finished off with a sprinkling of some sea salt and roasted black sesame seeds.
JALAPENO + CORNBREAD STUFFING
The one dish that would normally not see the light of day in my kitchen but so delish! Black beans, leeks, jalepeños, tomatillos, cornbread… it was an explosion of flavors and textures. Again, keeping to my theme of reconstructed traditional flavors, I kept the cornbread (more traditional) but went to the other end of the spectrum by adding bold Mexican flavors.
ASPARAGUS + GOAT CHEESE TOFU QUICHE
You read right. Tofu! I love making quiches with puréed tofu and just one egg vs. six eggs and cream. The quiche is fluffier, lighter, and overall more intriguing to the taste buds. Of course the trick is perhaps not to tell your guests until after they’ve dug into it as people may initially be turned off by the idea of a tofu quiche. With so much food going on though, I promise they will appreciate this surprisingly light entrée.
A big, heaping thank you/arigato to all of our guests! I had a blast cooking for you and welcome the opportunity to do it again for any occasion!
(my last task of the night – slicing up the lemon + rosemary salmon)