Alex and I have started a tradition: each year, we make our own custom Thanksgiving menu to share in this space. We develop it together, cook it together, shoot it together, and enjoy it together: all just the two of us. Our focus is seasonal, local whole foods centered around a meatless entree, along with some gluten-free and naturally-sweet options. We work for a healthy autumn menu that’s just outside the bounds of the traditional turkey/mashed potatoes, but elegant and conventional enough to be Thanksgiving-suitable for a family with a wide variety of dietary needs. On a day known for over-eating rich foods, it’s possible to eat foods that are packed with flavor, nutritious, and leave you full of energy, instead of the usual post-meal daze.
Funny thing is, we don’t typically cook much on Thanksgiving! Since we’re usually guests instead of hosts on the big day, we use this meal as the time to get our creative juices flowing. And, it’s become a fun tradition: an informal Thanksgiving meal where we get to test out all the recipes in advance, then eat off of them for days. (This year we had some friends along for the ride, which was even more fun.)
This year, we’ve developed four new recipes for our healthy and fresh Thanksgiving feast! We’ll be sharing all four this week, so you have ample time to add them to your Thanksgiving idea list.
A nice thing about this entree is that it works for any autumn or winter meal, be it Thanksgiving or not. We’ve roasted up some sweet acorn squash and topped it with nutty, chewy wild rice, crunchy pistachios, and salty feta cheese. It’s savory, filling, and full of flavor. Though we have a few roasted acorn squash recipes, this newest is a clear favorite.
- 1½ cups wild rice
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- 4 acorn squash
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 shallot
- 1 bunch kale
- 3½ tablespoons olive oil, divided
- Fresh ground black pepper
- ⅓ cup pistachios, chopped
- 4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
- Pre-heat oven to 450°F.
- In a medium pot, combine 1 ½ cups wild rice, 3 ½ cups water, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 45 to 50 minutes until tender. Let sit for 10 minutes before draining any extra liquid.
- Meanwhile, chop each of the acorn squash in half and then into quarters. Using a spoon, scrape out the seeds. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, place the squash on the sheet and drizzle with olive oil on the cut sides, then sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper. Turn cut side down on the sheet and roast until tender, about 40 minutes.
- While the squash roasts, mince 3 cloves garlic and 1 shallot. Remove the stems from the kale, then cut the leaves into thin strips (chiffonade). In a large skillet, heat 1½ tablespoons olive oil; add garlic and shallot and sauté for a 2 to 3 minutes until the shallots are soft. Then add the kale and sauté for 2 to 3 additional minutes until the kale is tender and bright green. Turn off the heat and stir in the rice, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper. Taste, and adjust seasonings if desired.
- Chop the pistachios.
- To serve, place the squash quarters on a plate. Top with wild rice stuffing, then sprinkle with feta cheese and pistachios. (Alternatively, feta and pistachios can be mixed into the wild rice stuffing).