When I close my eyes and think about the perfect holiday I see my favorite people, hear glasses clinking and laughter bubbling, enjoy smells wafting from the kitchen and all the homey, classic dishes with special, flavor-filled twists that I love making and my family loves eating. In my mind, this occasion is festive and colorful … and yet, many of the tried-and-true Thanksgiving recipes that grace our holiday tables are just brown and white.
Weaving color into your Thanksgiving meal is your first to-do list item for a healthy, happy holiday, and it’s easier than you think.
Here are 10 tips to bring the rainbow to the table:
AIM FOR EIGHT
Before you even start cooking, aim to shop for color. Try purchasing the purple cauliflower instead of the white variety, rainbow carrots instead of standard orange. Add pomegranate seeds, slices of persimmon or bright green pear to your salads. Aim to bring home eight different colors of vegetables (other than brown and white) and your table is halfway to gorgeous.
MAKE A SALAD, ANY SALAD
You don’t need a recipe to make a salad, but you do need one on any great Thanksgiving spread. Toss fresh, perky greens with sliced apples, pomegranate seeds and your favorite crunchy nuts; maybe add some fresh cheese. Dress with olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
LET YOUR VEGGIES SHINE
Raise your hand if you spend a lot of time and energy on that turkey, but your favorite part of the meal is actually all the tasty things that go with it? This holiday, try spreading your enthusiasm across your vegetable sides and instantly see the color showing through on your Thanksgiving plate. Toss Brussels sprouts in olive oil and lemon zest, try making yourself a killer veggie-forward soup as a starter or roast your carrots only after they’ve been rolled in harissa paste (see below.)
Harissa Roasted Carrots
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 2 tablespoons harissa paste
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 28 ounces (793g) long baby carrots, peeled and sliced into long batons
- 1/4 cup (15g) plucked cilantro leaves
- Seeds of 1/2 a pomegranate
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 450°F (230ºC). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the cumin seeds, honey, harissa, butter, oil and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Add the carrots and mix until completely coated with the harissa mixture.
Spread the carrots on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Be careful not to crowd the carrots as they will steam instead of roast, and you want crispy roasted carrots! (Use two sheet pans if necessary.)
Roast the carrots for 12–14 minutes, until the carrots are beginning to brown but still have a bit of bite. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and cilantro.
Serves: 4 | Serving size: 1 cup
Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 236; Total Fat: 13g; Saturated Fat: 6g; Monounsaturated Fat: 5g; Cholesterol: 23mg; Sodium: 165mg; Carbohydrate: 29g; Dietary Fiber: 8g; Sugar: 17g; Protein: 2g
SWEETEN YOUR POTATO GAME
If you don’t love creamy, rich Yukon Gold mashed potatoes or crispy roasted fingerlings, we probably can’t be friends. But, it’s true that sweet potatoes add a nutrient-packed punch, even at Thanksgiving. All varieties of potatoes are healthful, and both have a place in a balanced diet, but sweet potatoes sometimes need less doctoring to make them great.
A drizzle of butter or olive oil, salt, pepper and maybe a teeny bit of maple are all you need to elevate your sweet potatoes, instead of the milk, butter and cream typically needed to make mashed version amazing.
HERBS THE WORD
Fresh herbs are the easiest way to add a bit of green to literally any dish and, while they may seem small, herbs add flavor, which equates with satisfaction and helps keep you feeling full longer so you’ll be saved from entertaining the idea of having an au gratin potato eating contest with your cousins. Add chopped chives to mashed potatoes to brighten them up, pluck thyme to sprinkle over roasted carrots, add parsley to just about anything, and use cilantro in little sprinklings all over your favorite dishes.
Beets With Goat Cheese, Hazelnuts and Cilantro
- 2 tablespoons hazelnuts, toasted and chopped
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon (60ml) white wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon hot smoked Spanish paprika, divided
- Kosher salt, to taste
- 1 pound (454g) beets, scrubbed
- 4 ounces (113g) fresh goat cheese, crumbled
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 teaspoon nigella seeds
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro (optional garnish)
- Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon, (optional garnish)
- Olive oil (optional garnish)
Toast hazelnuts in a small, dry skillet over medium-high heat, stirring often, until golden brown, about 5 minutes; let cool.Preheat the oven to 375°F (190.5°C). Place the beets in a shallow glass baking dish filled with 1-inch of water. Cover with aluminum foil and bake until the beets are easily pierced with a fork, roughly 1 hour.Remove the beets from the oven, peel back the aluminum foil and allow the beets to cool slightly in a colander set over the sink. When the beets are cool enough to touch with bare hands, hold each beet under cold running water and rub with your hands, to easily slip the skins off. Slice the beets into 1/2-inch slices. Set aside.In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon paprika and a pinch of kosher salt. Drizzle the dressing over the top of the beets while they’re still warm. Serve topped with goat cheese, nigella seeds, hazelnuts, sea salt, chopped cilantro, flaked salt and a drizzle of oil.
Serves: 4 | Serving size: 1 cup
Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 128; Total Fat: 9g; Saturated Fat: 4g; Monounsaturated Fat: 1g; Cholesterol: 13mg; Sodium: 416mg; Carbohydrate: 7g; Dietary Fiber: 2g; Sugar: 3g; Protein: 7g