Last week, we talked pies. I forgot to tell you that this month is all about Thanksgiving – because it’s one of my favorite holidays and because it’s centered around food. I like every holiday, but Christmas is my absolute favorite. I heard from a few of you, so I’m hopeful that means you’ve whipped up at least your crusts for your Thanksgiving pies. Nothing feels better than feeling like you have a leg up on a holiday meal.
We started with dessert first, well, because it’s dessert. What sets the Thanksgiving dinner apart from other holiday dinners are the sides and dessert. A lot of people do turkey for Christmas, too. I’d never had turkey on Christmas until I married Randy. We do Lebanese food for Christmas and Prime Rib, and now we do turkey, too.
You might wonder what turkey recipe I make. It’s Giada de Laurentiis’ Turkey with Herbes de Provence and Citrus. It’s the only Giada recipe I’ve ever made. People ask me a lot if I watch Food Network all the time. I don’t – I’m not much of a T.V. watcher. I prefer to take in my media by reading. You can Google the recipe if you’re interested. It’s quite simple and quite delicious.
One side that often is overlooked at the holidays is salad. Traditional, heavier sides usually get the play: green bean casserole, sweet potatoes of some sort, mashed potatoes and gravy and a bit of cranberries, however you like them. This week’s recipe is fantastic for Thanksgiving because it has delicious fall flavors, no greens (although you could easily add kale if you wanted) and can be made in advance. Note that the quinoa can absorb the dressing, so if you make it more than a day in advance, have ingredients to make some extra dressing before serving. There’s plenty to do the day of, so why not work ahead?
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My mind is whirling with holiday recipes to share with you all. I want to jump to Christmas but will make myself focus on Thanksgiving for now. For some reason this year, I’m trying to rush the season. I’ve had to force myself to not decorate for Christmas yet. I’ve never started until after Thanksgiving. Enjoy this season with your family and friends. I love Thanksgiving for all of the togetherness – preparing the meal, gathering around the table and even the dish washing afterward.
Red Quinoa Salad with Butternut Squash, Cherries & Pecans
1 10-ounce bag frozen butternut squash cubes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups red quinoa
Pinch of salt
½ cup dried cherries
½ cup pecans
Zest of 1 large orange
Juice of 3 large oranges
¼ cup olive oil
1 shallot, finely diced
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the butternut squash on a foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Toss until squash is well-coated. Season with salt and pepper. Roast the squash for 30 minutes, until tender and slightly caramelized.
In a medium saucepan, add quinoa, 4 cups water and salt and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 5 minutes, and then turn the heat to low and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the water is absorbed. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork. Let quinoa cool to room temperature.
In a large bowl combine quinoa, butternut squash, cherries and pecans. In a small bowl, whisk together dressing. Drizzle dressing over the quinoa salad, salt and pepper, and then mix until it’s evenly coated.