Written by our fall chef collaborator, Camille Arcese @camicooks
If you want the traditional spread with minimized work…
When it comes to Thanksgiving dinner, I think it’s perfectly acceptable to have your cake and eat it too, particularly when Farm Boy has some deliciously effortless chef-inspired options to help fill your tables and your bellies. Find freshly prepared Thanksgiving sides like cranberry sauce, sweet and regular mashed potatoes, turkey gravy, and more in Farm Boy’s Chef Department so you can enjoy all the feels of a traditional Thanksgiving feast with less work.
If you want a break from the usual menu suspects…
If ever there were a year to switch things up, this would be the one. Am I right? Growing up in my family, I was always the instigator trying to get my mom to break from the traditional holiday feast spread and go rogue with new dishes. So it’s no surprise that I’m still here doing the same for all of you. Whether you’re in the mood to make a complete departure from the traditional, or simply add a new item or two to your spread, I’ve got two fall-themed recipes that are sure to give all the comforting Thanksgiving feels while also serving up the unexpected.
My Orecchiette with Turkey Sausage, Butternut Squash, and Kale is loaded with flavours and textures thanks to Farm Boy Turkey Sausages and orecchiette pasta – and it makes the perfect main dish. My Roasted Delicata Squash Salad with Goat Cheese and Cranberry is the ultimate fall salad you’ll be making for Thanksgiving and beyond. I highly recommend you try them both.
If you want to DIY a traditional spread but need tips and tricks to keep it stress-free…
1. Plan your menu according to your equipment
I always say that cooking is a dance between timing and temperature. The key to success is having an “action plan” before you get started. There’s nothing worse than inviting people over and having a menu filled with dishes that all need to be roasted in the oven and served hot, but you only have one oven and you also have a turkey to roast. Trust me, I’ve learned this the hard way! Consider the ideal temperature at which each dish should be served and the stove/oven/toaster oven/air fryer/microwave combo you’re working with, and work back from there to organize your plan.
2. Prep as much in advance as possible
Some dishes need to be cooked and served à la minute to be awesome, while others won’t lose their luster if prepared a night or two before. When it comes to the typical Thanksgiving spread, I recommend making the following a day or two in advance:
- Cranberry sauce: absolutely nothing will change, just reheat before serving.
- Green veggies like green beans and broccoli: if you plan on doing a sautéed greens side dish, I highly recommend blanching and shocking the veggies beforehand (i.e., a quick 10-second dip in boiling salted water before plunging into an ice bath to stop the cooking process). This way they’re guaranteed to stay vibrant green and crisp, rather than beige and mushy. Then all that’s left to do is sauté in some seasoned oil or butter before serving.
- Gravy: if you’re into making old-school gravy from turkey necks and trimmings, there’s absolutely no need to do it day-of. What’s more, you’ll also have a much easier time skimming the fat once the gravy cools in the fridge, since it all rises to the top and hardens.
Bonus tip: if you’re limited in stove space simply reheat the gravy and hold it in your snazziest thermos. Your friends and family will thank you as they pour the steaming hot gravy all over their plates.
- Prep your veggies: whether it’s chopping celery and onions for your stuffing, peeling potatoes for your mash, or washing and spinning greens for your salad, it takes a huge load off to get these smaller tasks done ahead of time. No need to wait.
3. Avoid recipes you’ve never made before
Unless you’re down to do a dry run before Thanksgiving, stick to dishes you’re confident preparing. No need to reinvent the wheel, just keep it simple and make it delicious.
How to Create an Invitingly Simple Thanksgiving Tablescape
No matter your vibe this Thanksgiving, setting the table in a beautiful, relaxed way is always a good idea. It’s all about making those gathered feel welcome and special by taking a few minutes to go the extra mile and decorate, even a little.
Rather than overthinking it and doing “the most”, pick up a few bunches of eucalyptus and bags of white and orange mini pumpkins from your local Farm Boy and use them to accent what you already have at home. I used a rustic, earth-toned linen tablecloth gathered perfectly imperfectly down the length of my table to anchor everything, then arranged branches of eucalyptus here and there to create a natural feel. Then I studded it all with the mini pumpkins, tealights, pillar candles, and a few mini jars with white flowers in them.
There are no rules; simply make it your own. If you have tapered candles, use those. And choose any florals available at your local store that you like.
We hope you enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving meal, whichever way you choose to approach it. Visit our Falling for Harvest page for more inspiration!