Eating turkey, bickering with family and watching the Detroit Lions get blown out. These are the traditions that tie together one of America’s favorite holidays: Thanksgiving.
Every fourth Thursday of November sees millions of Americans observe a holiday very loosely based on the Pilgrims’ historic feast, and every year these millions partake in the Thanksgiving feast, the epitome of American gluttony.
Even those who don’t observe Thanksgiving are familiar with the feast’s formula. The traditional entree is turkey, America’s favorite bird for a day. There’s an assortment of sides that likely consists of potatoes, corn and a variety of different greens. The feast is then tied together by a dessert of fruit-based pie such as apple or pumpkin pie.
However, just because something is the standard doesn’t mean it is a mandate. Thanksgiving dinner offers a lot of opportunities for variety. So toss your turkeys and apple pie aside as we look at alternative Thanksgiving dishes to try.
Main course (alternatives to turkey):
Vegan turkey roast — Nora Cooks
For this Thanksgiving, the bird does not have to be the word. This recipe from Nora Cooks involves a made-from-scratch vegan turkey roast. It first requires the cook to mash together a combination of chickpeas, no-chicken broth, spices and other ingredients along with gluten to create the loaf. From there it is a matter of cooking the roast for an hour and then browning it in a pan to expand it into a finished entree. If you are looking for a vegan alternative this Thanksgiving, this roast might be a good option.
Lemon-Thyme Roast Chicken Recipe — Food & Wine
If you are serving a smaller number of people than the traditional Thanksgiving gathering, you may be wary of the price and average size of most turkeys. Food & Wine has you covered with this classic lemon-thyme roast chicken recipe. It doesn’t demand much active work, only requiring the creation of a lemon-thyme butter, prepping the chicken with it and roasting it in the oven. If you are looking for a quicker and easier option this November, you can’t do much better than this chicken.
Turkey Lasagna Recipe — Ina Garten, with the Food Network
Have you ever wanted to go for a more Italian angle on your Thanksgiving turkey? Ina Garten has you covered with this turkey lasagna recipe. It is as classic of a lasagna as you can get. First, one must make a turkey sausage-based filling, then cook the pasta and make the different cheeses to make up the lasagna. Then comes the layering and assembly of the lasagna and a half hour of bake time. After that, you have one perfectly cooked lasagna. If you want to break from tradition in the new normal, this turkey lasagna is a good option.
Sides (potatoes, corn and greens that go beyond mashing, buttering and boiling):
Five-Ingredient Corn Casserole Recipe (with Jiffy Mix) — Tastes of Lizzy T
Corn is a staple of the Thanksgiving table, but its versatility is nowhere near as well regarded as its starchy brother, the potato. Alternatives do exist though, and one southern classic may be worthy of your menu this year: corn casserole. It goes under many names — pudding, for example — but the premise remains simple and the same. All it takes is to mix together some creamed corn, canned corn, muffin mix, butter and sour cream into an easy-to-bake mixture. After 45 minutes, your casserole will be ready to eat.
Siri Daly’s Smashed Potatoes Recipe — TODAY
When it comes to finding an alternative for the potato at the table, you can take your pick from a multitude of options. The fan favorite in the Knipes household, however, is the smashed potato. The name is a good hint for the recipe. Simply boil the potatoes and then season them, smash them and bake them for around 20 minutes. This simple process will give you a crispy taste of nirvana.
Three Sisters Salad — Smithsonian Folklife Festival
When I was creating this list, I wanted to find a representative of Native American cuisine for the greens, and Three Sisters Salad was an easy choice. This simple salad is based on the three crops that became recognized as the Three Sisters for the complete nutrition and productivity that they provided: beans, corn and squash. These veggies combined with tomatoes and an apple cider vinaigrette make up the salad.
Oreo Peanut Butter Pie — Heart Naptime
I only have one dessert option for you to consider, but I believe it is the only one you will ever need. Oreo peanut butter pie is one of the greatest things on Earth, and if you are to only try one recipe from this article I implore you to pick this one. Simply mix together cream cheese, peanut butter, sugar and a few extra ingredients to create the delectable filling, and then add it to the Oreo pie crust to create this no-bake dish. You can make the crust as the recipe suggests, but a store-bought Oreo crust works just as well. There’s no need for other toppings — simply prep, eat and thank me later.
There are an infinite number of dishes that one can prepare for the Thanksgiving table. It is a culinary playground ripe with new experiences. If you are looking for something new, however, these options can work out very well.
Have a happy Thanksgiving, everyone, and don’t miss the parade.