Colorful Meals for Thanksgiving
Weaving color into your Thanksgiving meal is your first to-do list item for a healthy, happy holiday, and it’s easier than you think.
When I close my eyes and think about the perfect holiday I see my favorite people, hear glasses clinking and laughter bubbling, enjoy smells wafting from the kitchen and all the homey, classic dishes with special, flavor-filled twists that I love making and my family loves eating. In my mind, this occasion is festive and colorful … and yet, many of the tried-and-true Thanksgiving recipes that grace our holiday tables are just brown and white.
Here are top tips to bring the rainbow to the table:
Aim to shop for the color
Before you even start cooking, aim to shop for color. Try purchasing the purple cauliflower instead of the white variety, rainbow carrots instead of standard orange. Add pomegranate seeds, slices of persimmon or bright green pear to your salads. Aim to bring home eight different colors of vegetables (other than brown and white) and your table is halfway to gorgeous.
2. Make a salad, any salad
You don’t need a recipe to make a salad, but you do need one on any great Thanksgiving spread. Toss fresh, perky greens with sliced apples, pomegranate seeds and your favorite crunchy nuts; maybe add some fresh cheese. Dress with olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
3. Let your veggies shine
Raise your hand if you spend a lot of time and energy on that turkey, but your favorite part of the meal is actually all the tasty things that go with it? This holiday, try spreading your enthusiasm across your vegetable sides and instantly see the color showing through on your Thanksgiving plate. Toss Brussels sprouts in olive oil and lemon zest, try making yourself a killer veggie-forward soup as a starter or roast your carrots only after they’ve been rolled in harissa paste.
4. Mashed potatoes or crispy roasted fingerlings
If you don’t love creamy, rich Yukon Gold mashed potatoes or crispy roasted fingerlings, we probably can’t be friends. But, it’s true that sweet potatoes add a nutrient-packed punch, even at Thanksgiving. All varieties of potatoes are healthful, and both have a place in a balanced diet, but sweet potatoes sometimes need less doctoring to make them great.
A drizzle of butter or olive oil, salt, pepper and maybe a teeny bit of maple are all you need to elevate your sweet potatoes, instead of the milk, butter and cream typically needed to make mashed version amazing.
5. Use herbs
Fresh herbs are the easiest way to add a bit of green to literally any dish and, while they may seem small, herbs add flavor, which equates with satisfaction and helps keep you feeling full longer so you’ll be saved from entertaining the idea of having an au gratin potato eating contest with your cousins. Add chopped chives to mashed potatoes to brighten them up, pluck thyme to sprinkle over roasted carrots, add parsley to just about anything, and use cilantro in little sprinklings all over your favorite dishes.