The month of November kicks off the winter holiday season full of lots of cooking and togetherness. Thanksgiving is traditionally a big celebration – lots of people, lots of food, and lots of sharing. Last year, COVID-19 shrunk the size of most of our gatherings, the amount of travel, and the quantities of food prepared and shared. Depending on where you live and current COVID-19 case counts, Thanksgiving 2021 still might look different from traditional gatherings this year.
With another stressful year behind us and still so many unknowns, should we just forego holiday communications, recipes, and culinary skills? Absolutely not!
At To Taste, our goal is to teach people how to cook good food regardless of external circumstances. We recognize the need to share a colorful and flavorful meal with the people you love. Whatever the size, location, or circumstance of your gathering this year, be thankful for the opportunity to gather; let’s make the most of it!
It’s time to dive in to To Taste’s colorful Thanksgiving 2021 Menu! (and yes, we kept many of the same recipes from last year – tradition is tradition!)
Lots of Colorful Food
We always encourage people to add more color to their plates! Now, let’s get real; we won’t spend the next 500 words discussing the nutritional value of each recipe (but if you’re still interested in the nutrition information, you can read it in the recipe article).
Beyond health implications, color is still important. We eat with our eyes first, so a colorful dish will naturally be more appealing to our eyes and our taste buds!
Prepare Breakfast Ahead of Time
“I don’t want to spend my entire holiday break cooking and cleaning in the kitchen.”
We hear this a lot! If this rings true for you, try making breakfast a day or two in advance. Baked oatmeal cups and overnight oats are easy to prepare and store ahead of time. Both options are a light, hassle-free option for Thanksgiving morning.
If you have teenagers or late sleepers, prepare a batch of energy bites. Once made, these bites require no dishes. This mess-free option is great for a small snack or a more filling portion depending on your family’s meal schedule.
Golden Bites and Dips
We’ve traveled a long way since 2020. With that said, the end of 2021 should have a pot of gold. Our Thanksgiving 2021 menu kicks off with two golden appetizers: turmeric hummus and roasted chickpeas.
Are you tired of dry turkey? Brining and aromatics are two of the most important factors for moist, flavorful turkey.
Brining results in a juicier and more flavorful meat because it absorbs the extra liquid and salt. Start with a natural turkey that does not have a sodium solution. Then brine your turkey, add aromatic vegetables, and roast upside down.
Try Alton Brown’s Good Eats Roast Turkey; the brining and aromatic vegetables in this recipe will fill your turkey with moisture and deep flavor.
One more tip: Start with high heat to sear the meat, then reduce the temperature to 350ºF to continue cooking.
And All That Jazz
What’s all that jazz? The sides, of course! Does anyone else think that the sides are the real heroes of Thanksgiving?!
We’ve created a combination of sides that are packed with both color and flavor. While we don’t necessarily focus on nutrition during the holidays, these side dishes can be lighter options for those not looking for that post-Thanksgiving dinner nap.
This grain salad screams fall – apple cider vinegar, butternut squash, cranberries, pecans, and apples provide great texture, flavor, and color.
Butternut squash quinoa salad is also a great stuffing substitute for non-stuffing fans, but it will surely appease stuffing fans too! Quinoa is a hearty vegetarian option too.
This is a great alternative to traditional sweet potato marshmallow bakes. The roasted bananas add sweetness without adding sugar. Never roasted bananas before? Check out this short video to learn how!
This is also a great recipe to make with kids – they love mashing and mixing!
Thanksgiving would not be complete without green beans and cranberry sauce. This recipe is easy to prepare and don’t require any oven space – a much-needed relief for the Thanksgiving head chef!
The addition of parmesan and almonds provides great flavor and texture. Be sure to include the lemon juice or an equivalent acid. If you don’t have lemon juice, simply use apple cider vinegar instead.
It’s 2021. It’s time to retire canned cranberry sauce.
While your stovetop and oven are hard at work, make this fail-proof Instant Pot cranberry sauce. Just dump, mix, and cook! It’s as easy as that.
Fresh cranberries are naturally tart, so this recipe does have lots of added sugar (as most cranberry sauce recipes do). Make sure you measure your brown sugar properly for the perfect amount of sweetness.
In spite of the added sugar, this cranberry sauce does contain lots of great colors and nutrients! Cranberries, cherries, and ginger are all rich in phytochemicals that help prevent cancer and inflammation. So opt for fresh this year; we promise you cranberry sauce success!
The Best for Last
We love pie at To Taste, but making pie crust is for the birds! Many store-bought pie crusts are difficult to find this time of year, and even so, they are often full of unnecessary ingredients and flavors. So instead of pie, make a frozen berry crisp with whipped cream for dessert!
Don’t worry about finding fresh berries in November or waiting for frozen berries to thaw. This recipe uses frozen berries as they are! Just make sure that at the end of cooking the berries are bubbling; this ensures that the cornstarch and brown sugar thicken and sweeten perfectly.
And whipped cream is non-negotiable.
Sharing is Caring
Finally, just because we can’t all be under the same roof this year doesn’t mean that we can’t share food together.
Make a few batches of these dark chocolate dried fruit bites with your kids or family members. Package them up and deliver to friends!
And if you and your family are still planning to purchase a pre-made Thanksgiving meal from a grocery store or restaurant, we encourage you to support local! (And if this is you, kudos for reading all the way through this article anyway!)
“Color your plate” traditionally means adding a variety of nourishing foods from different food groups to provide the most nutrition. Coloring your plate for Thanksgiving 2021 is not just about making and eating colorful food – it’s also about finding color in your life.
Color comes from moments spent together, mastery of new culinary skills, bright kitchens full of delicious smells, and warmth of community. Use our Thanksgiving menu for culinary guidance and recipe inspiration, then share this new knowledge with friends and family at your Thanksgiving table!
We are so thankful for every one of you! We LOVE what we do, and we could not do it without you! Chef V said it best: “When I teach, I forget about everything going on in the world.”
So cheers to cherishing the joys in life – in the kitchen, at the table, and with each other.
To Your Taste,