This past weekend I did a bunch of Thanksgiving Day cooking. I'm not hosting a dinner this year or doing meal service meals, so needed to get my fix. I have to say, I've never cooked so much brown food in my life!
Stuffing...brown! Apple pie...brown! Potatoes...brown! Gravy...brown! Green bean casserole...brown! I even tried to add a shredded carrot salad to the mix to bring some raw brightness but ended up topping with a walnut date crumble...BROWN!
Now I have nothing against brown. I have brown eyes, brown hair, one of my favorite winter coats is brown, chocolate is one of my favorite foods and I do have an affinity for dark features on men. But on a tablescape, if everything is brown it's kinda "meh" looking.
So here are a few non brown dish ideas featuring two of my favorite seasonal foods to add sparkle to your table, cranberries and pomegranates!
CRANBERRY CHESTNUT KALE SALAD
I've made this Cranberry Dressing a number of times already this fall and I cannot get enough. It's gorgeous isn't it!? I love it tart like natural cranberries, especially when I'm combining with a sweet food like butternut squash. However you can always make sweeter like a cranberry sauce by adding maple syrup.
I use a whole bag of fresh cranberries, which you can now find in stores. I didn't even pick any out! If you don't want to deal with the chestnuts, sub in walnuts! I added walnut oil for extra flavor for the kale salad but it's totally still fantastic with just extra virgin olive oil!
MAKE AHEAD TIPS
Wash and dry the kale. I rinse my kale in a colander then lay it out on a paper towel on my kitchen counter to air dry as long as I can. Usually a few hours. Line the bottom of a big container with a piece of paper towel. Seal container and refrigerate. The paper towel will absorb the moisture. Your kale will stay fresh for days like this. You could do this today!
Make the dressing on Wednesday! It cooks at a low simmer so you won't need to babysit it just be in the kitchen when it's cooking.
POMEGRANATE HAZELNUT SALAD
I've made this salad the past few Thanksgivings and it was part of my meal service's Thanksgiving Day bowl. It's always been a hit! It looks so pretty and if you have a food processor with a shredding attachment it comes together fast, and besides the 10 minutes it takes to toast the hazelnuts (do not leave out this step!) it involves no cooking!
MAKE AHEAD TIPS
Spank your pomegranates to get the arils (seeds) out now. Store in a freezer bag in the fridge. Any extra you can store in the freezer for months! This can be done today!
Make the dressing the day before. I had added hemp seeds for protein as my Thanksgiving Day bowl was all vegan, but This dressing from a similar shaved brussels sprout salad can be used instead of the dressing I did with ingredients you most likely have in your pantry!
ROASTED ROOT VEGETABLE SALAD WITH SWEET CARAMELIZED ONION DRESSING
Roasted root vegetables may be nothing new to your Thanksgiving Day table, but enjoying them with this Sweet Onion Dressing might be! I LOVE this dressing. It just brings something different to the vegetables and it's not brown! The Pumpkin Croutons are optional, so all this is a matter of cutting up vegetables, tossing with some spices and baking! The addition of the dressing makes this dish special!
MAKE AHEAD TIPS
The dressing you can make on Wednesday. Make sure to still serve it warm by heating on the stove (no microwave please!) on low before serving, or you could place the dressing in a ramekin and warm in oven. Serve right out of the ramekin!
Bake the vegetables on Wednesday and warm up on Thanksgiving. You could also cut up the beets, sweet potatoes, and acorn squash and store them in water in a sealed container in the fridge on Wednesday, then you'll just have to toss with spices and bake on Thursday. You'll want to dry them off before you bake them. Root vegetables dry fairly fast. I've never done this for this dish, but I have stored carrots and rutabagas like this in the fridge to keep fresh for days, and I pickle beets a lot which is similar. I love this trick because the vegetables preserve their color and they won't get whiteish like you see in the pre cut packs at the grocery store which may be a sign of oxidation.
I hope this helps and I would love for you to comment below or share a pic on social media #TheSpice if you made any of these dishes or an element of the dish like a dressing. Also if you found any of the make ahead tips helpful or have more tips to share please comment below! We all love time saver tips and I'm sure others could learn from you!
Thanks so much for taking the time to read this!