Thanksgiving Menu: Half California Locavore, Half Italian, more than a Hint of Homemade

November 11, 2012

Vegetables from an Italian Garden

Every year when November rolls around, I start to think about what the Thanksgiving menu will look like. With so many options, though, I rarely nail down what the theme will be until a week or two ahead of time. Every year it takes one little thing to propel me direction, and last year it was the cookbook Vegetables from an Italian Garden. While I had picked up the book earlier that summer, it was the picture of baked carrots that had me fully entranced with the idea of an Italian Thanksgiving menu. But what did that even mean? Pasta and meatballs? Of course not. Instead, I decided to take inspiration from the simplicity of Italian cuisine – the best ingredients, fresh because they’re local, simply put together.

The vegetable sides were easy, in the sense that I had a cookbook full of them. The hard part was narrowing in on what to make. The carrots, of course. Since they were cooked with 6 ounces of taleggio cheese, I decided for the other vegetables I had to go a little lighter. Broccoli fantasia was lighter in the sense that it used a little less cheese, and the brussels sprouts with almonds, with almonds, garlic, lemon zest rounded out my vegetable offerings.

The biggest hurdle I had was figuring out a turkey and stuffing. I finally stumbled upon this recipe for a salt-roasted turkey with lemon and oregano, and since I had both the lemon and oregano growing in my backyard, I thought it would be the perfect complement to my locavore/Italian-style Thanksgiving menu. The amount of salt scared me a bit, but I went for it, and this recipe gives my riesling-brined turkey a run for its money.

Given the task of pulling together this main course, I decided to go super simple with my desserts and appetizers, pulling out some old favorites from years passed, as well as some of my canned goodies stored in the basement. The final menu looked like this:

Tomato jam with goat cheese and crackers
Roasted crudité with aioli
Fennel, red onion & celery salad with salami

Main Course
Salt-roasted turkey with lemon and oregano
Turkey gravy with oregano
Spinach and porcini dressing
Carrots with taleggio cheese
Broccoli fantasia
Brussels sprouts with almonds (from Vegetables from an Italian Garden)
Mashed potatoes with truffle salt
Cranberry sauce served two ways

Sweet Potato Pecan Pie (from Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen)
Chocolate Mousse (from French Women Don’t Get Fat)
Chantilly Cream (from Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen)

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