Lemon and Herb Turkey. Photo by Scott Suchman for The Washington Post

There is comfort in eating a traditional Thanksgiving meal year after year. But eventually, revisiting the same spread can start to feel dull, no matter how perfectly delicious it may be. To inject your feast with a jolt of intrigue, this holiday we’re inviting you to put a twist on tradition.

What does that mean? With some dishes, we’re introducing new textures and flavors that are often missing from the holiday feast, such as the crunch of raw green beans and the heat of chipotle in a cranberry barbecue sauce.

Other recipes take Thanksgiving standards and turn them on their heads – a freshly baked bread with all the flavors of stuffing and (gasp!) pumpkin cake instead of pie. And then there are recipes where what’s old has become new again in our effort to achieve your best bird yet – see Becky Krystal’s recommendation to cook your turkey in a bag.

We get it: Not everyone wants to try something new on Thanksgiving. In that case, maybe instead of replacing your family’s tried-and-true dishes, you add just a few of these recipes to make the meal that much more fun, flavorful and interesting. As we barrel toward the end of another year, who couldn’t use a little extra sparkle on their plate and in their life?

The Food team developed a fresh full menu to add something new to your spread this year. Here are our recipes.

Turkey in a Bag with Lemon and Herbs


I get it. Putting a turkey in a bag in the oven seems weird. And yet, I’m here to tell you that if you’re looking for moist meat, you can hardly do better. No brining required, either! Moreover, in testing I found that roasting – more like steaming – the turkey in a bag cut the expected cook time almost in half. (The bag is made of heat-resistant nylon, not the same as your typical plastic shopping bag.)

I took advantage of the closed environment by including lemon, garlic, apple, onion and herbs, which add subtle flavor to the meat and create delectable juices you can serve on their own, use in gravy or turn into broth.

And while you won’t get skin that’s as crisp as some other methods, it still turns an attractive golden color worthy of a place in the center of the table. – Becky Krystal

RECIPE: Turkey in a Bag with Lemon and Herbs

10 to 14 servings

Active time: 30 mins; Total time: 2 hours


An oven bag helps ensure juicy meat in this fuss-free turkey that requires no brining or other advance prep. Steaming the turkey in the bag won’t result in crisp skin, but you’ll be rewarded with delectable juices that can be drizzled over the carved meat or used as the base for gravy.

In our tests, the bag approximately halved the cook time compared to roasting. We highly recommend using a leave-in probe thermometer so you can monitor the temperature of the meat; otherwise, start checking with an instant-read thermometer after about 90 minutes.

We tested this recipe on a bird as large as 24 pounds, which took about 2 1/2 hours to roast. If your turkey is pre-brined from the store, halve the amount of salt called for here.


1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 lemon, halved, divided


2 medium apples (about 12 ounces total), cored and quartered, divided

1 medium onion (8 ounces), peeled and cut into 8 pieces, divided

1 head garlic, cloves separated and peeled

12 sprigs woody herbs, such as rosemary, sage and/or thyme, divided

2 tablespoons fine salt (use 1 tablespoon in pre-brined turkeys; see headnote), divided

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided


1 (10- to 14-pound) whole turkey, giblets removed

2 tablespoons olive oil


Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Have ready a large roasting pan.

Add the flour to the oven bag, gently shaking to distribute. Squeeze the juice of one lemon half into the bag, then toss it into the bag. Add half of each of the apples, onion, garlic and herbs. Set the bag inside the roasting pan. (A sheet pan is OK if that’s all you have.)

Place the turkey on a sheet pan and thoroughly pat it dry inside and out. Squeeze the juice from the remaining lemon half into the cavity. Season the inside of the cavity with about a third of the salt and pepper. Nestle the juiced lemon half and the remaining apples, onion, garlic and herbs inside the cavity.


Starting with the breast side down, rub some of the oil into the skin, then sprinkle with some of the salt and pepper (don’t worry about precise amounts, just leave more of it for the top). Flip the turkey so it’s breast side up, and repeat oiling and seasoning with salt and pepper.

Carefully transfer the turkey to the oven bag inside the roasting pan, breast side up, setting the bird as best you can on top of the apples, onion, garlic and herbs. Close the bag with the included tie and cut six 1/2-inch slits into the bag. Transfer the roasting pan to the oven. If you have one, insert a leave-in thermometer into the thickest part of the breast, avoiding the bone.

Roast the turkey for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. The turkey is done when the internal temperature of the thickest part of the breast meat registers 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, and the thigh meat registers 165 to 175 degrees (taken away from the bone).

Carefully cut open the bag and pull it away from the turkey – there will be a lot of steam. If you can remove the bag, great, otherwise it can stay under the turkey until you’re ready to serve. Let the turkey rest 20 to 30 minutes before discarding the bag and vegetables, and then carving. If desired, strain the juices to serve on the side or use to make gravy.

Nutrition | Per serving (about 7 1/2 ounces turkey without skin), based on 14: 312 calories, 0g carbohydrates, 177mg cholesterol, 10g fat, 0g fiber, 56g protein, 3g saturated fat, 807mg sodium, 0g sugar

Roasted Butternut Squash with Feta and Dates. Photo by Scott Suchman for The Washington Post

Roasted Butternut Squash with Feta and Dates


The viral TikTok pasta dish got us all in the habit of roasting feta (if we weren’t already), and this recipe from Kathyrn Pauline’s new book “Piecemeal” shows how well the sharp, salty cheese goes with winter squash, especially when you toss everything with red onions, rosemary and a simple vinaigrette.

Dates add texture and sweetness, making this interesting enough to do double duty as a side dish for the omnivores and a main course for the vegetarians at your table.

The best part: You can use any firm winter squash. The second-best part: The recipe is so simple you may find yourself using it as a jumping-off point. Which direction will you take it in? – Joe Yonan

RECIPE: Roasted Butternut Squash with Feta and Dates

4 to 6 servings (makes about 6 cups)

Active time: 20 mins; Total time: 40 mins


Bathing butternut or other winter squash in vinaigrette and roasting it with feta, rosemary and dates results in a holiday-appropriate fall side dish that’s good enough to be a vegetarian main. This recipe makes more vinaigrette than you need, but you’ll find all sorts of uses for it, on salads and other roasted or steamed vegetables.


For the vinaigrette

1/2 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons balsamic or red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons water


1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 1/2 teaspoons maple syrup

1 garlic clove, finely grated or pressed

1/4 teaspoon fine salt, plus more to taste

For the squash

1 medium butternut squash (2 pounds)


1 small red onion (6 ounces), halved and thinly sliced

1/2 teaspoon fine salt, plus more to taste

6 ounces feta, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary, plus more for serving

8 Medjool dates, pitted and quartered



Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 500 degrees.

Make the vinaigrette: In a small jar, combine the oil, vinegar, water, mustard, maple syrup, garlic and salt, screw on the lid, and shake to emulsify. Taste, and season with more salt as needed.

Make the squash: Use a sharp vegetable peeler to peel the squash. Cut off the stem, cut the squash lengthwise in half, and scoop out and discard the seeds and pulp (or save the seeds for roasting). Cut the squash into 3/4-inch-thick wedges.

Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper and place the squash and onions on it. Drizzle over 1/4 cup of the vinaigrette and use your hands to coat evenly. Arrange the vegetables in a single layer with a little space around each piece (using 2 sheet pans if necessary to avoid overcrowding the pan). Sprinkle with the salt. Layer the feta on and around the squash and sprinkle with the rosemary.

Roast for 10 minutes, then top with the dates. Continue roasting for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the feta is charred in spots and the squash has cooked through but isn’t mushy. Transfer to a serving platter, garnish with more rosemary, and drizzle with a little more vinaigrette, to taste, if you’d like. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

Nutrition | Per serving (1 cup), based on 6: 414 calories, 48g carbohydrates, 25mg cholesterol, 24g fat, 6g fiber, 7g protein, 7g saturated fat, 681mg sodium, 29g sugar).


Vermont Cheddar Soup. Photo by Scott Suchman for The Washington Post

Cheddar Cheese Soup

This is the soup my husband’s family always orders whenever they’re at the Simon Pearce restaurant in Quechee, Vermont. After spending a few Thanksgivings there, I became obsessed with the soup enough to track it down in their self-published cookbook, and it has become our go-to holiday meal starter.

With only a handful of basic ingredients, the soup doesn’t require much chopping or fancy techniques, and because it’s very rich, a little goes a long way, especially since you’ll need to save room for a multicourse meal to follow. – Olga Massov

RECIPE: Cheddar Cheese Soup

8 to 12 servings (makes 8 cups)

Total time: 40 mins


Assistant recipes editor Olga Massov was introduced to this cheddar soup from glassmaker Simon Pearce by her husband’s family, who used to spend Thanksgiving in Quechee, Vermont, where Pearce is based. Massov loved the soup so much that she tracked down the recipe in the cookbook the company produced and it became her Thanksgiving menu stalwart. Made with pantry staples and frugal vegetables, such as carrot, onion and celery, the soup is filling and flavorful thanks to a generous amount of sharp cheddar cheese. The soup is rich, so a small serving goes a long way as a start to a holiday meal.


2 medium carrots (6 ounces total), coarsely grated

2 large stalks celery (4 ounces total), finely chopped (reserve the leaves)

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter

1 small yellow onion (5 ounces), finely diced


1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried

1 bay leaf

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

4 cups no-salt-added chicken broth, hot

3 cups (12 ounces) coarsely grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese, preferably from Vermont

1 cup half-and-half


Fine salt (optional)

Freshly cracked black pepper

Fresh flat-leaf parsley or thyme, for serving (optional)


Fill a medium pot with water, set it over high heat and bring to a rolling boil. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, prepare an ice bath. Add the carrots and celery to the boiling water and cook, uncovered, for 30 seconds, then drain through a colander. Immediately transfer to the prepared ice bath for 30 seconds; then drain again. Discard any large ice cubes.

In a medium pot over low heat, melt the butter. Add the onion, thyme and bay leaf, increase the heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent, about 4 minutes. Decrease the heat to low, stir in the flour and cook, stirring continuously, until the flour and onion form a roux and it begins to bubble, about 2 minutes. Add the hot broth, 1 cup at a time, whisking until incorporated. Increase the heat to medium and bring the mixture to a lively simmer, whisking all the while to ensure it’s smooth.


Working in two batches, stir in the cheddar until it melts. Stir in the half-and-half, and the reserved carrots and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 2 minutes. Taste, and season with salt and pepper as desired; the cheese adds saltiness, so you may not want any additional salt. Remove from the heat and ladle the soup into bowls. Sprinkle with more black pepper, and garnish with parsley, celery leaves or thyme, if desired.

Nutrition | (3/4 cup), based on 12: 240 calories, 9g carbohydrates, 60mg cholesterol, 19g fat, 1g fiber, 9g protein, 12g saturated fat, 224mg sodium, 2g sugar

Sausage, Apple and Onion Bread. Photo by Scott Suchman for The Washington Post

Sausage, Apple and Onion Bread

These herb-scented loaves of freshly baked bread are studded with pieces of sausage, apple and onion, as if merging dinner rolls and stuffing (or dressing) into something new.

Soft, plush slices would make a great addition to your festive table and would be excellent for sandwiches the next day. Or for the extra ambitious, perform a feat of stuffing inception by baking this bread early in the week to use in your favorite stuffing recipe. – Aaron Hutcherson

RECIPE: Sausage, Apple and Onion Bread


16 to 20 servings (makes two 8-inch round loaves)

Active time: 40 mins; Total time: 3 hours

These enriched loaves include all the flavors of traditional holiday stuffing (or dressing) mixed into freshly baked bread. Dried herbs flavor the dough that is studded with Italian sausage, apple and onion – a Thanksgiving stuffing bread, if you will. Soft, plush slices would make a great addition to your festive table and would be excellent for sandwiches the next day. For the extra ambitious, perform a feat of stuffing inception by baking this bread early in the week to use in your favorite stuffing recipe.

Make ahead: You can cook the filling 1 day in advance; refrigerate until needed.

Storage: This bread is best fresh, but you can refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.



For the filling

8 ounces (227 grams) mild or sweet Italian sausage, removed from casing

1 large Honeycrisp apple (10 ounces/283 grams), cored and diced

1 large yellow onion (10 ounces/283 grams), diced

1/2 teaspoon fine salt

1 tablespoon olive oil (optional, if needed)


For the dough

4 cups (500 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 (1/4-ounce/7-gram) package instant yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)

2 teaspoons herbes de Provence

3/4 teaspoon fine salt


3/4 cup (177 milliliters) water

1/4 cup (60 milliliters) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed

4 large eggs, divided


Make the filling: In a medium or large skillet over medium-high heat, add the sausage and cook, stirring and breaking the meat into small pieces with a spoon or spatula, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat to a medium bowl, leaving the rendered fat in the skillet.

Add the apple, onion and salt to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until they start to soften, about 8 minutes. (If your sausage didn’t render much fat and the apple and onion start sticking to the skillet, add the olive oil.) Add the apple mixture to the sausage and stir to combine; set aside to cool until needed.


Make the dough and bread: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment – or using a large bowl, if mixing by hand – stir together the flour, sugar, yeast, herbes de Provence and salt until combined.

In a large glass measuring cup, microwave the water for 30 to 60 seconds, until it reaches a temperature between 120 and 130 degrees. Add the olive oil and 3 of the eggs, and whisk to combine.

Turn the mixer on low speed and slowly pour in the egg mixture. Increase the speed to medium-low and knead for 3 to 4 minutes, until the dough is uniform and sticky. (If mixing by hand, stir with a wooden spoon or hand mixer with dough hooks until the dough comes together and is uniform and sticky, about 4 minutes.)

Lightly flour your work surface and scrape the dough onto it. Adding about a quarter of the sausage mixture at a time, knead the dough, dusting with more flour as needed, until all of the sausage mixture is incorporated and evenly combined. (The dough will be quite sticky, so a bench scraper is a great tool to help with folding the dough over itself.) Don’t fret if it looks a little messy – that’s how it’s supposed to be.

Lightly grease a large bowl with olive oil. Transfer the dough to the greased bowl, gently turn it to coat it lightly on all sides with oil, cover tightly with plastic wrap or a large plate, and let it rise until it has approximately doubled in size, 45 to 60 minutes.

Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper and lightly flour your work surface. When the dough is ready, gently punch it down and transfer to the prepared surface. Divide in half – each half should weigh about 715 grams – and shape each into a ball. Transfer to the prepared sheet pan with at least 2 inches of space between the loaves. (You may need to position them diagonally to allow for enough space.) Cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and let rise again for 30 minutes.


While the loaves are rising, position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl, beat the remaining egg until combined, and brush over the loaves. Bake for 45 minutes, rotating the pan front to back halfway through, or until nicely browned and the internal temperature of the loaves registers at least 190 degrees. Let cool on the sheet pan set atop a wire rack for at least 15 minutes before slicing and serving.

Substitutions: Herbes de provence is a blend of dried herbs that traditionally includes rosemary, summer savory, oregano and thyme; it can sometimes incorporate other seasonings, such as sage, basil, marjoram, lavender and fennel seed. Feel free to use your favorite combination of herbs and spices.

Nutrition | Per serving (1 slice), based on 20: 181 calories, 24g carbohydrates, 45mg cholesterol, 7g fat, 1g fiber, 6g protein, 2g saturated fat, 226mg sodium, 4g sugar

Crispy Smashed Potatoes with Tahini-Garlic Sauce. Photo by Scott Suchman for The Washington Post

Crushed Potatoes with Tahini-Garlic Sauce

There can be such a great variety of flavors on a Thanksgiving plate. Textures? Not so much. I love mashed potatoes, but I often find myself craving crispy and crunchy textures to balance out the many soft dishes on the holiday table.


These potatoes are up to the task with a tender, creamy interior and a wonderfully crisp, craggy skin. They’re boiled (a couple days in advance if you like, to save time later), crushed to create some irregular edges and then roasted on high heat for the best of both spud worlds.

The nutty tahini-garlic sauce with sumac, lemon juice and parsley adds a little zip and a fresh take on holiday potatoes. – Matt Brooks

RECIPE: Crushed Potatoes with Tahini-Garlic Sauce

4 servings (makes 1 cup sauce)

Active time: 20 mins; Total time: 1 hour

With crispy edges and creamy interiors, these smashed potatoes offer the best of both spud worlds. The potatoes are boiled, crushed and then roasted at high heat for a twice-cooked but largely hands-off preparation. A nutty tahini-garlic sauce with fresh parsley gets dolloped over top for a lovely mix of textures. These make an excellent holiday side dish as an alternative to mashed potatoes.


Look for similarly sized potatoes to ensure uniform cooking.


For the potatoes

1 pound yellow baby potatoes, scrubbed

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon fine salt, plus more to taste


1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

For the sauce

3 cloves garlic, peeled

1/2 cup full-fat plain Greek yogurt

1/4 cup well-stirred tahini

1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest


2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves and tender stems

1/2 teaspoon ground sumac

1/4 teaspoon fine salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper



Make the potatoes: Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 450 degrees. Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.

Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Add the potatoes and cook until tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and drain the potatoes.

Spread the potatoes and garlic cloves (for the sauce) on the prepared sheet pan. Using the bottom of a glass or mug, carefully crush each potato. Try to keep as much skin on the potatoes as possible (it will crisp up in the oven); leave space between the potatoes for even roasting.

Brush the tops of the potatoes and the garlic with the oil, and evenly sprinkle the salt and pepper. Roast for 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are golden brown, with crisp edges, and the garlic softens. Transfer the garlic to a plate and let cool. Flip the potatoes (it’s OK if they break apart a bit) and roast for an additional 5 minutes, or until crisp on the other side.

Make the sauce: While the potatoes are roasting, in a medium bowl, whisk together the yogurt, tahini, lemon zest, lemon juice, parsley, sumac, salt and pepper until thoroughly combined. Add the roasted garlic to the mixture and, using a spoon, mash it into the sauce, stirring until it is evenly distributed.

Transfer the potatoes to a platter and serve with the sauce on the side. Alternatively, you can serve the potatoes on individual plates, with dollops of sauce on each potato.


Nutrition | Per serving (2 to 3 potatoes, with 1/4 cup sauce): 270 calories, 25g carbohydrates, 4mg cholesterol, 17g fat, 4g fiber, 8g protein, 3g saturated fat, 332mg sodium, 2g sugar

Sweet Potatoes with Brown Butter and Sage. Photo by Scott Suchman for The Washington Post

Skillet Sweet Potatoes with Brown Butter and Sage

Take sweet potatoes in a savory direction with this festive skillet recipe that is finished with nutty brown butter, crisp fried sage leaves and your favorite toasted nuts. The potatoes can be cooked a day or two ahead, freeing you for the day-of holiday tasks.

This side dish gives a nod to Lyonnaise potatoes, but instead of boiling, you slice, pan-fry and then cook the spuds in a skillet with onions, garlic and chopped sage. At this point, the potatoes can be refrigerated, and, when ready to serve, warmed in a skillet on the stovetop or in a casserole in the oven.

The toppings can be made ahead as well, the nuts can be toasted, and the sage leaves fried and kept at room temperature for two days. The butter can be browned and refrigerated until ready to use. – Ann Maloney

RECIPE: Skillet Sweet Potatoes with Brown Butter and Sage


6 servings (makes 6 cups)

Active time: 35 mins; Total time: 45 mins

These sweet potatoes with brown butter and sage give a nod to Lyonnaise potatoes. Instead of boiling, you slice and quickly pan-fry the potatoes until browned, and then combine them with onions, garlic and chopped sage. For a festive, fragrant finish, garnish the potatoes with your favorite toasted nuts and fried whole sage leaves. The potatoes are excellent if made a day or two ahead, as well.

Make ahead: If not serving right away, cook in an ovenproof skillet, or transfer the cooked potatoes and onions to a casserole dish, tightly cover and keep warm in a 200-degree oven for up to 1 hour, or cover and refrigerate – without fried sage or nuts – for up to 2 days. The brown butter can be made in advance and refrigerated for several weeks. The fried sage leaves can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Storage: Refrigerate leftovers for up to 4 days; reheat on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in a 350-degree oven until warmed through.



For the potatoes

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more as needed

2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick

fine salt

ground white pepper

2 medium yellow onions (1 pound total), halved and thinly sliced


2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage leaves (may substitute 1 tablespoon of dried)

3 large cloves garlic, minced or finely grated

1/4 cup dry white wine, such as sauvignon blanc, or water or chicken broth

For the garnish

1/4 cup salted or unsalted butter (regular or vegan) or olive oil (optional)

Fresh sage leaves (optional)


1/2 cup toasted roughly chopped hazelnuts, pecans or walnuts


Make the potatoes: Place a baking sheet near the stove. In a large, high-sided skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil until it shimmers. Cover the bottom of the pan with a single layer of the potatoes – a little overlapping is OK – and lightly season with salt and pepper. Cook, undisturbed, until the potatoes start to blister and brown, 1 to 2 minutes per side, peeking with a spatula and adjusting the heat as needed. Watch carefully so the potatoes don’t burn and overcook – they should remain firm. Transfer to the baking sheet and repeat with the remaining potatoes, adding more oil and adjusting the heat as needed.

Reduce the heat to medium, and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the skillet, followed by the onions, and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and starting to turn golden, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped sage and garlic, lightly season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Return the potatoes to the skillet and gently stir to thoroughly combine with the onion. Pour the wine, broth or water over the potatoes and quickly cover the skillet with a lid or foil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the potatoes are fork-tender, 8 to 10 minutes, checking the thickest pieces and stirring about halfway through the cooking time. If you like, transfer the potatoes to a serving platter or serve them directly from the skillet.

Make the garnish: If serving with fried sage leaves, when the potatoes are almost ready, add the butter or olive oil to a small skillet over medium heat. (If using butter, swirl it in the pan as it melts. Once the foam dissipates and it starts to smell nutty, look for brown bits to form in the bottom, about 2 minutes. If using the oil, heat it until it shimmers.) Add the sage leaves and fry until they start to curl and look crisp, 10 to 20 seconds. Remove from the heat. (If the potatoes need to cook more, transfer the butter/oil and sage leaves to a heatproof bowl to stop the cooking.)


Just before serving, pour the warm brown butter or oil with the sage leaves, if using, over the potatoes and sprinkle with the toasted nuts. Serve warm.

Substitutions: Not a fan of sage? Use fresh thyme or rosemary when cooking the potatoes. Can’t have nuts? Toasted sunflower or pumpkin seeds.

Nutrition | Per serving (3/4 cup) : 273 calories, 40g carbohydrates, 0mg cholesterol, 11g fat, 7g fiber, 5g protein, 1g saturated fat, 136mg sodium, 10g sugar

Crunchy Green Beans with Almonds and Dates Photo by Scott Suchman for The Washington Post

Crunchy Green Beans with Almonds and Dates

While I’ll happily eat a green bean casserole for Thanksgiving, my 8-year-old won’t touch a cooked green bean with a 10-foot pole, so I’ve started to prepare this vegetable by not cooking it at all. Not only does it free up in-demand stovetop or oven space, but the crunchy, raw side makes for an ideal foil against all the richness of many Thanksgiving dishes.

Here, green beans are cut on the bias, tossed with Medjool dates and a mustardy-lemony dressing, and topped with a shower of toasted almonds for a result that delivers a crunch, sweetness, brightness and tartness.


The best part is, for a holiday when you’re juggling timings of various warm dishes, this one gets served at room temperature. – Olga Massov

RECIPE: Crunchy Green Beans with Almonds and Dates

6 to 8 servings (makes about 6 cups)

Total time: 25 mins

Dress crisp, raw green beans and plush dates with a bracing lemon-Dijon vinaigrette for a light side dish. The dressing, with its untraditional half-acid-half-oil ratio, awakens the palate, and other than toasting almonds, this is no-cook side, making it a fine addition to rich, labor-heavy holiday meals.

Make ahead: The bean-date mixture can be made and dressed up to 1 day in advance and refrigerated. The almonds can be toasted up to 1 week before serving and stored in an airtight container at room temperature.


Storage: Refrigerate without the almonds for up to 3 days.


1 pound green beans, trimmed and sliced on a severe bias

4 Medjool dates, pitted and sliced, or more to taste

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)


1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, plus more as needed

1 teaspoon maple syrup, plus more as needed

1/4 teaspoon fine salt, plus more as needed

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed

1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted



In a large bowl, toss together the green beans and dates.

In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon zest and juice, the oil, mustard, maple syrup, salt and pepper until well combined. Taste, and adjust the mustard, syrup, salt and/or pepper as desired.

Drizzle half of the dressing over the bean-date mixture and gently toss to coat. Taste, and drizzle with more dressing as desired. Arrange the green bean mixture on a large platter, top with the almonds and serve.

Nutrition | Per serving (3/4 cup), based on 8: 100 calories, 14g carbohydrates, 0mg cholesterol, 5g fat, 3g fiber, 2g protein, 1g saturated fat, 56mg sodium, 10g sugar

Chipotle Cranberry Barbecue Sauce. Photo by Scott Suchman for The Washington Post

Chipotle Cranberry Barbecue Sauce


Spiciness is usually absent from the holiday menu. So for heat lovers, this barbecue-style sauce with chipotles in adobo and cranberries is just the ticket. (Feel free to adjust the amount of chipotle in the sauce to match your audience.)

And if you’re someone who always has trouble with gravy, consider this as an excellent replacement to serve with the turkey, stuffing and potatoes. – Aaron Hutcherson

RECIPE: Chipotle Cranberry Barbecue Sauce

8 servings (makes about 2 cups)

Total time: 25 mins

Chipotle chile peppers in adobo sauce give this alternative to traditional Thanksgiving cranberry sauce a savory kick of heat. For a spice-averse crowd, use less of the chiles for a tamer sauce.



2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium yellow onion (7 ounces), diced

1/4 teaspoon fine salt

2 cups (7 ounces) fresh or frozen cranberries

1 cup unsweetened or no-sugar-added cranberry juice


1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar

2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup diced chipotle pepper in adobo sauce and the sauce


In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onion and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion starts to soften and brown, about 5 minutes.

Add the cranberries, cranberry juice, brown sugar and chipotles, bring to a simmer and cook until the cranberries have softened and start to burst, 10 to 15 minutes. Use an immersion (stick) blender to puree the sauce until smooth. (Alternately, you can puree the sauce in a blender: To prevent splatters, do not fill the pitcher more than halfway, remove the center ring from the lid, and hold a kitchen towel over the lid as you blend.) Let cool slightly and serve warm or at room temperature.

Nutrition | Per serving (1/4 cup): 126 calories, 25g carbohydrates, 0mg cholesterol, 4g fat, 2g fiber, 1g protein, 1g saturated fat, 102mg sodium, 21g sugar


Skillet Pumpkin and Apple Cake. Photo by Scott Suchman for The Washington Post

Skillet Pumpkin and Apple Cake

I am not really a pie person (even my pumpkin “pie” is more like a cheesecake). For years, I have begged/pleaded/threatened to share a recipe for a Thanksgiving cake, and now, it has finally happened.

Riffing on a pumpkin loaf recipe from my grandparents and inspired by the retro pineapple upside-down cake, I created a skillet dessert that features a tender, fluffy crumb gently spiced with cinnamon and cardamom.

To create an eye-catching topping, cranberries and apples are arranged in a hot mixture of butter and brown sugar. All you need to do is turn it out of the pan for an instant wow. – Becky Krystal

RECIPE: Skillet Pumpkin and Apple Cake

10 to 12 servings (makes one 12-inch cake)


Active time: 35 mins; Total time: 1 hour 5 mins

This tender upside-down pumpkin cake topped with glistening apples and cranberries is an easy, scrumptious alternative to the typical Thanksgiving pie. The cake looks best the day it’s made.

The batter comes together in a stand mixer, but can be mixed by hand with a whisk, spatula and some elbow grease. Pay special attention to when you beat the eggs and sugar, ensuring they are lightened in color and texture.

The cake is great on its own, but you could serve it with dollops of lightly sweetened whipped cream or scoops of vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Storage: Store, covered, at room temperature for up to 3 days. Freeze slices in an airtight container for up to 2 months.



2 1/4 cups (280 grams) all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon fine salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom


1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1/2 cup neutral oil, such as vegetable, canola or grapeseed

1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick/56 grams) unsalted butter

1/2 cup (110 grams) light brown sugar


2 medium apples (320 grams/11 ounces), peeled if desired, cored and cut horizontally into 1/4-inch rounds

1/4 cup (30 grams) fresh or frozen cranberries, or more or less as needed (do not defrost if using frozen)


Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cardamom.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the granulated sugar and eggs on medium-high speed until pale yellow in color and lightened in texture, 2 to 3 minutes. With the mixer running, gradually add the oil and beat until incorporated. Add the pumpkin puree and mix on medium speed until thoroughly combined. Scrape down the bowl.


Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until just combined. Do not overmix; the batter should be quite thick. Remove the bowl from the mixer and give the batter a quick stir by hand with a rubber spatula to ensure everything is incorporated. Set the batter aside while you prepare the topping.

In a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Once melted, swirl the pan or use a brush to lightly coat the sides of the skillet with the butter. Stir in the brown sugar and spread in an even layer. The sugar will not dissolve into the butter, but that’s OK, just try not to have large dry patches of sugar. Nestle the apple slices in two concentric rings around the skillet, or whatever pattern you like (you may not use all the slices). Then place a cranberry inside the center of each apple slice and in between the slices.

Increase the heat to medium. Once the butter and sugar have reached a relatively robust bubble, allow the mixture to cook for 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the batter over the apples, gently spreading into an even layer and trying not to dislodge the apples and cranberries.

Transfer to the oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until puffed and golden and a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The cake should also spring back when gently pressed with your fingertip.

Let the cake cool in the skillet for 15 minutes before inverting onto a serving platter. You want to do this while the cake is still warm so it does not stick. (If any topping does stick, scrape off the skillet and carefully patch it back on top of the cake – no one will be the wiser!) Let cool for at least 30 minutes or to room temperature before cutting into wedges and serving.

Nutrition | Per serving, based on 12: 302 calories, 42g carbohydrates, 41mg cholesterol, 14g fat, 3g fiber, 4g protein, 4g saturated fat, 249mg sodium, 21g suga

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