Thanksgiving - Be Creative but Keep the Classics 3

After spending more than forty years in kitchens prepping, cooking and serving Thanksgiving dinner in restaurants, hotels, and at home, I came to the following conclusion:

In general, people still enjoy Thanksgiving classics such as velvety mashed potatoes, stuffing, roasted yams with marshmallows, green bean casserole, and perfectly roasted turkey and gravy. However, besides the classics, it is also exciting to add some creativity, new combinations and side dishes, and food that does not need to be super hot or cold.

SOME NEW COMBINATION IDEAS:

+ Quinoa Salad with spinach and dried apricots, pears and toasted pine nuts

+ Kale and Cabbage Salad with mangoes and roasted pecans

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with crispy bacon, apples, blue cheese, 
pine nuts and balsamic syrup drizzle

+ Oven Roasted Butternut Squash with cauliflower, broccoli, 
pomegranate seeds and kale

Cranberry Relish with hint of star anise

+ Jalapeno Cranberry Cornbread

To have a successful Thanksgiving dinner, I generally set all cold food, cranberry relish, rolls and butter on the table first. Next, I place the casserole dishes, as they usually hold heat very well. Last, comes the grand entrance–the roasted turkey, preferably carved at the table by a volunteer or the most talented person in the room…make it fun! I prefer to serve dessert on a separate side table.

Chef Lageder’s Cooking Tips and Tricks:

  • + Instead of taking up critical oven space, place your finished 
casserole dishes on your BBQ on low heat to keep warm.

QUINOA WITH BABY SPINACH, DRIED APRICOTS,
PEARS AND TOASTED PINE NUTS

Serves 8

Ingredients

3 cups quinoa

6 cups water (substitute with chicken broth optional)

1 bunch spinach, washed and chopped

½ cup dried apricots, chopped

½ cup dried pears, chopped

½ cup pine nuts, toasted

Salt to taste

Drizzle of olive oil

Directions

  1. Place uncooked quinoa in a sieve, rinse with water, then drain
  2. Heat a pot, add quinoa and water (or chicken broth)
  3. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes, remove from 
heat, cover with a lid and let steep for 5 to 8 more minutes
  4. Place in a salad bowl and set aside to cool
  5. Add rest of ingredients, mix gently, season with salt, 
and drizzle with olive oil

Chef Lageder’s Cooking Tips and Tricks

  • Small quinoa will absorb all water in 10 minutes while cooking, 
large quinoa will take about 15 minutes. It is very important to 
let the quinoa steep covered for 5-8 minutes to pop the kernels.
  • It is also delicious to add sautéed diced red onions and fennel 
deglazed in port to the quinoa at the last minute.

KALE AND CABBAGE SALAD WITH 
MANGOES AND ROASTED PECANS

Serves 8

Ingredients

1 bunch kale, rinsed, stem removed and chopped

½ head red cabbage, shredded

1 head white cabbage, shredded

2 lg. carrots, cut julienne

1 mango, peeled and diced small

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup whole pecans, roasted

1 cup seasoned rice wine vinegar

Directions

  1. Add all ingredients but the rice wine vinegar to a salad bowl
  2. Toss gently, then add rice wine vinegar and toss some more

Chef Lageder’s Cooking Tips and Tricks:

  • For salad, I prefer small young kale, while for cooking, 
I prefer the bigger leaves.
  • Instead of pecans, add chopped cilantro and diced serrano 
peppers for a refreshing flavor and spice