Thanksgiving Dinner 2013

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A Yiddish proverb says, “Man plans and God laughs.” The plan was to be in Rochester, NY with family for Thanksgiving. Weather intervened and we ended up staying in Chapel Hill, NC where we had attended our daughter’s Ph.D. dissertation seminar earlier in the week. Luckily, there had been a possibility that we would be home for turkey day so I had already given a menu some thought.

I don’t normally build a menu around a salad, but I recently had a Kale Salad at Agricola Eatery in Princeton, NJ and wanted to start the meal with my version of that salad. The one at Agricola had roasted cauliflower, pickled pumpkin, shaved radish and a pumpkin seed vinaigrette. I would have liked to include pickled pumpkin, but mine were at home and they take time to cure. I opted for roasted butternut squash instead. In lieu of cauliflower and radishes, I used apples and dried cranberries and topped the salad with croutons and roasted pumpkin seeds. The roasted squash and pumpkin seeds became ingredients to tie the menu together.

I wanted a hearty, healthy bread for the croutons and dressing. I was thinking of an ancient grain bread that Wegman’s makes, but, alas, they have not yet expanded this far south. I did find some Omega-3 Seed bread with whole wheat and flax, sunflower and sesame seeds from Ninth Street Bakery in Durham, NC at Whole Foods that worked great.

For the turkey, I went with a Mediterranean recipe that I developed a couple of years ago. Last time, I used a traditional brine. This year, I did a shortened dry brine. I experimented with dry brining last year and will never go back to a soaking brine. The bird is much moister and flavorful with dry brining. The only reason I shortened the process this year was the time available for prep before the big day. The decision to stick it out was made Tuesday morning with freezing rain, ice, sleet and snow all along the route of travel. The recipe linked below has the full timing.

Sticking with a healthy, Mediterranean theme, I developed a pumpkin hummus for the appetizer and served it with apple slices and toasted pita chips. For this meal, we had cranberry orange relish made by my wife, daughter and sister-in-law. A Cranberry, Apple and Orange Chutney that has not yet made it out of my head and onto a plate would have gone great, as well, but that will have to wait for a future meal.

The “girls” also made the pies: apple and pumpkin. Both were outstanding.

Most of the prep was done the day before so little was left to do on Thanksgiving itself but spend time with the marooned part of the family.

All measurements referenced in the below recipes are approximate. I actually measured very little so I am not sure exactly how much I used. I realize there is some repetition in the linked recipes, but I wanted each to be able to stand on its own as well as being compiled here.


First Course:

  • Pumpkin Hummus with apple slices and whole wheat and garlic pita chips

Second Course:

  • Kale Salad with apples, dried cranberries, roasted butternut squash, roasted pumpkin seed vinaigrette, artisan bread croutons and roasted pumpkin seeds

Main Course:

  • Mediterranean Turkey dry brined in za’atar, garlic, EVOO and pomegranate molasses
  • Artisan Bread Dressing with green onions, garlic, roasted butternut squash and porcini mushrooms seasoned with za’atar
  • Homemade Turkey Gravy
  • Sautéed Green Beans with roasted butternut squash and roasted pumpkin seeds
  • Cranberry Orange Relish


  • French Apple Pie
  • Pumpkin Pie

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