Getting your Thanksgiving meal on the table for your hungry friends and family can be a crazy flurry of activity in the kitchen, but you can remove some of the challenge by making a few dishes ahead of time.
Some food bloggers say you can make gravy ahead of time but then you won’t have the lovely pan drippings that make Thanksgiving gravy so special. We recommend the old fashioned method, of simmering the giblets with some onion, celery, and carrot while the bird is roasting so you have a nice stock to make your gravy.
Some also recommend making mashed potatoes ahead of time but since this dish is so easy (other than peeling the potatoes, which you could do ahead of time and then keep them covered in water in the fridge,) it’s better to make them the day of. They just taste better. You could make a potato casserole ahead of time, like scalloped potatoes and pop it into the oven to reheat.
Here are some nice, easy recipes you can make ahead for Thanksgiving.
Broccoli Kale Gratin
1 bunch broccoli, chopped (peel the stems and chop those up too)
1 bunch kale, leaves stripped, chopped
2 cups milk, heated
¼ cup butter
¼ cup flour
1 teaspoon onion powder
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
sea salt and white pepper to taste
1 cup breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons butter, melted
- Heat oven to 400°F. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil and add the kale and broccoli. Cook for about 5 minutes until tender-crisp. Drain, rinse under cold water, and set aside. While kale and broccoli are cooking, stir together the bread crumbs and melted butter.
- Melt the 1/4 cup butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly about 2 minutes. Whisk in the hot milk and onion powder, continuing to stir as the sauce thickens. Bring to a boil. Add salt and pepper to taste, lower the heat, and cook, stirring for 2 minutes more. Stir in the parmesan cheese. Remove from heat.
- Layer the broccoli and kale in a greased casserole dish. Pour the sauce evenly over the veggies and sprinkle with the buttered bread crumbs. Bake for 30 minutes, until golden-brown and bubbly. If desired, place under a broiler set to high for 1-2 minutes to create more of a crusted top.
12 oz fresh cranberries (about 3 cups)
3/4 cup cane sugar
pinch sea salt
1 cup water
In a medium saucepan, combine cranberries, sugar, salt and water and stir until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until cranberries are bursting and soft, about 10 minutes. Let cool and refrigerate. It will thicken as it cools. Will keep for 2 months.
Best Green Bean Casserole
6 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, diced small
1 pound button mushrooms, sliced
2 teaspoons sea salt
black pepper to taste
1 1/2 pounds green beans, trimmed, cut into bite-size pieces
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1 pinch grated nutmeg
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1 can Lars’ Own Crispy Onions*
- In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add onion, and saute about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms, and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 8 minutes. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and black pepper. Set aside to cool.
- Cook beans in boiling water until tender about 8 minutes. Pour into a colander and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
- Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add 1/4 cup flour, and whisk constantly until mixture turns golden, about 2 minutes. Pour in milk, and continue whisking until mixture thickens, about 3 minutes. Stir in nutmeg, and the remaining teaspoon salt and additional pepper. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Mix sauce and mushrooms with the beans in a bowl.
- Pour beans into a greased 9 x 13 inch baking pan. Combine Parmesan and breadcrumbs and sprinkle over casserole.
- Cover beans with foil and bake at 425°F until heated through, about 30 minutes. Uncover, set oven to broil, and cook until top is golden brown, about 1 minute. Sprinkle fried onions over top and serve immediately.*
*When reheating later, save the fried onions for scattering on top just before serving.
*To make your own fried onions:
4 shallots, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch rings
1/4 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Heat canola oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Toss shallot rings with flour. Fry the shallots in batches, turning frequently, until golden brown. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
Butternut Squash Galette
Adapted from smittenkitchen.com
For the pastry:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, FROZEN
1/4 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup ice water
For the filling:
1 small butternut squash (about one pound)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced in half-moons
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup feta cheese (about 2 1/2 ounces), crumbled
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage leaves or a sprinkling of thyme
optional fresh arugula or dandelion greens
- Make pastry: In a bowl, combine the flour and salt. Using a box grater, grate the frozen butter into the flour, keeping everything cold. Now cut it in until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Make a well in the center. In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, lemon juice and water and add half of this mixture to the well. With your fingertips, mix in the liquid until large lumps form. Remove the large lumps and repeat with the remaining liquid and flour-butter mixture. Pat the lumps into a ball; do not overwork the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Prepare squash: Heat oven to 375°F . Peel squash, then halve and scoop out seeds. Cut into a 1/2-inch dice. Toss pieces with olive oil and a half-teaspoon of the salt and roast on foil lined (for neatness sake) sheet for 30 minutes or until pieces are tender, turning it midway if your oven bakes unevenly. Set aside to cool slightly.
- Caramelize onions: While squash is roasting, melt butter in a heavy skillet and cook onion over low heat with the remaining half-teaspoon of salt, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly golden brown, about 20 minutes.
- Raise the oven temperature to 400°F .
- Assemble galette: On a floured work surface, roll the dough out into a 12-inch round. Transfer to an ungreased baking sheet. Spread squash, onions, cheese and herb mixture over the dough, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border. Fold the border over the squash, onion and cheese mixture, pleating the edge to make it fit. The center will be open.
- Bake until golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven, let stand for 5 minutes, then slide the galette onto a serving plate. Cut into wedges and serve hot, warm or at room temperature. Serves 6.
Braised Green Beans with Tomatoes and Bacon
3 slices bacon, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1 1/2 pounds green beans, trimmed, cut into bite size pieces
1/3 cup chicken broth
1 16-oz can diced tomatoes or 2 large fresh tomatoes, chopped
Salt and hot sauce to taste
- In a large, deep sauté pan, fry the bacon over medium heat. Just before the bacon turns crispy, add the onion and cook until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, paprika and rosemary and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
- Add the green beans, diced tomatoes and their juices and the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the green beans are tender*, about 40 minutes. Season with salt and hot sauce. Serve with mashed potatoes or rice.
*If you plan to reheat this dish later, you can cook the beans until they are tender crisp, then when reheating, cook until they are tender.
2 – 15 oz cans chickpeas, drained
2 handfuls fresh basil
2-3 cups fresh baby spinach
juice from 1/2 a lemon
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1/2 cup tahini
3 tablespoons olive oil
optional water to thin
sea salt and pepper, to taste
extra virgin olive oil, as needed
- In a food processor, add the chickpeas, basil, spinach, garlic cloves, tahini, lemon juice and 1-2 tablespoons of water and pulse until combined. With machine running, drizzle in the olive oil and process until smooth. Add a little more water if it seems too thick. Taste and add more lemon juice or salt to your liking.
- Spoon into a serving bowl and drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil.
Daikon Carrot Slaw
1 lb daikon, peeled
1/2 lb carrot, peeled
1/2 cup sweet onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons yogurt
sea salt and white pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Shred the daikon and carrot and combine with remaining ingredients.
Festive Cabbage Salad
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons honey
1 clove garlic, minced
Sea salt and black pepper
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced on the diagonal
2 carrots, grated
1 small red onion, minced
4 radishes, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, diced small
1 small green or red (or both) cabbage, shredded
optional: chopped fresh herbs such as dill, parsley, chives, tarragon
Whisk together vinegar, oil, garlic, honey, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the vegetables and toss to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings. This salad tastes better after it sits awhile.
Chili Roasted Carrots
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 pounds carrots, cut into 1/4-inch diagonal slices
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
juice from 1 lime
- Heat oven to 450ºF. Combine oil, chili powder, cumin and salt in a medium bowl. Add carrots and toss well to coat. Spread out on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast the carrots, stirring once, until tender and golden, 20 to 25 minutes.
- After reheating, toss the carrots with cilantro and lime juice. Or they could be served at room temperature.