2020 continues to be a curveball of a year. When it comes to planning for Thanksgiving, who knows what to expect.
Still, in keeping with the absolute insanity that has been this year, I thought I would keep it flowing through this holiday celebration. I almost considered going full out rouge and having a pool-party themed turkey day, or why not space dinosaurs while I am at it? In the end, I decided to keep the tradition of lovingly prepared food intact, while just switching things up a little bit.
With COVID-19 this year, gatherings may look different than normal. So, whether you are cooking for two or 20, I wanted to offer these up to you for a slightly less traditional, but nostalgic Thanksgiving nonetheless. Instead of turkey, a rosemary and pistachio-crusted rack of lamb. For sides, a wintery squash, kale and pomegranate salad as well as pearl couscous with toasted almonds and middle eastern spices. I have even included the most adorable little pumpkin treats for dessert.
Non-traditional Thanksgiving dinner recipes
Pistachio Rosemary Crusted Rack of Lamb
3 lbs rack of lamb
2 tbsp olive oil
4-5 sprigs rosemary, stem removed
¾ cup shelled pistachios
1 tsp salt
1 small jar stone-ground Dijon
3 cloves garlic
- Trim excess fat from lamb.
- In a food processor, blend all other ingredients until smooth.
- Generously slather all over the lamb and allow it to “marinate” for 45 minutes or more.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and place your lamb onto a sheet pan, preferably with an elevated rack.
- Cook for 30-45 minutes, depending on desired doneness.
- Allow the meat to rest for 8-10 minutes before serving.
Pearl Couscous with Toasted Almonds and Butternut Squash
4.4 oz pearl couscous (also known as Israeli couscous)
1 yellow onion, finely diced
5 cloves of garlic, finely diced
1 tbsp butter
2 cups of toasted almonds
2 cups diced butternut squash
½ cup mint leaves, chopped
½ cup cilantro leaves, chopped
¼ cup parsley leaves, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
3 lemons, juiced and zested
2 tsp salt
½ tbsp coriander
½ tbsp cumin
¼ tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp turmeric
1 cup feta
- Cook the onion and garlic until translucent and fragrant and set aside.
- Roast the butternut squash in the oven for 30 minutes and set aside.
- Cook couscous as described on the package until tender and set aside.
- In a large bowl (large enough to hold all these ingredients once combined), whisk together olive oil, lemon zest and juice, all spices and chopped herb leaves. Add all other finished ingredients (cooked couscous, toasted almonds, roasted butternut squash, feta, cooked onions and garlic) and mix until well incorporated. Garnish with more herbs if desired.
Winter Kale Salad with Roasted Acorn Squash and Pomegranate
(There are no real specific measurements for this one, just a friendly suggestion of ingredients that go really well together.)
Kale, stem removed, torn into small pieces
1 pomegranate, arils removed
1 acorn squash (slice into 1 ½ inch thick rings, drizzled with honey and sprinkled with salt and cinnamon. Roast for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.)
1 honey crisp apple, diced into ½ cubes
3/4ish cups pepitas (pumpkins seeds)
Favorite vinaigrette dressing (something apple cider vinegar-based would be great)
Start with your base of the kale, add the cooked acorn squash, diced apples, pomegranate arils, pepitas and feta. Dress when ready to serve.
The frosting recipe can be halved for this recipe, but feel free to make it all in case you want an excuse to make something else that needs frosting.
1 box vanilla bean cake mix
1 16-oz can pumpkin pie mix
1 ½ cups salted butter, room temperature
½ cup cream cheese, room temperature
4 ½ cups powdered sugar
3-4 tbsp heavy whipping cream
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
Cinnamon sticks for decoration
- In a stand mixer, combine the cake mix and the pumpkin pie mix.
- Generously spray a mini Bundt cake pan with cooking spray, and add the mixture into each tin spot.
- Bake for 17 minutes at 350. Remove from tray, set aside and allow to cool. Once cooled, carefully take a bread knife and slice the excess cooked tops off. (You can keep these and make pumpkin whoopie pies with them.)
- Make your frosting by combining the rest of the ingredients into a stand mixer and whip until fluffy and well incorporated. Transfer to a piping bag.
- When you are ready to frost, put your frosting on one Bundt cake and then sandwich with another piece.
- Pipe “leaves” on the top and stick a cinnamon stick down the middle.
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