Thanksgiving made easy: all you need to make the perfect meal

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The turkey, the stuffing, the rolls, the sides, desserts, the other desserts, the drinks! How do you do it all? Easy. Do it ahead of time.

Chef Pete Loren from Nino Salvaggio International Market showed us how easy it was to make all of his side dishes. And he gave us every, single, recipe. This is your Thanksgiving meal. Why go anywhere else?

Best New Thanksgiving Side Dishes


Maple Roasted Baby Fingerling Potatoes with, Bacon, Green Onions and Fresh Thyme
Serves 4

1 Lb    Fingerling Potatoes
6 Strips    Bacon, cut in ¼" pieces across the width
¼ Cup    Green Onions, Cut ¼" on the Bias
1 tsp    Fresh Thyme Leaves, Chopped
2 TBSP    Pure Maple Syrup
To Taste   Salt & Fresh Cracked Black Pepper

1. Roast fingerling potatoes in a 400 F approximately 20 minutes or until softened to the touch. Remove from the oven and set aside.
2. In a large sauté pan, cook bacon until crisp then remove all but 2 TBSP of bacon grease leaving the bacon pieces in the pan.
3. Add potatoes and maple syrup and sauté 5 minutes.
4. Add remaining ingredients and sauté 3 minutes to cook green onions and thyme.
5. Season to taste and serve.


Spaghetti Squash Rollatini with Marinara & Parmesan
Serves 4

1 Lg Globe Eggplant, Peeled, sliced in ¼” panels (8 slices minimum)
1 Cup All Purpose Flour, Seasoned with salt & pepper
2 Cups    Milk
2     Eggs, Beaten
2 Cups    Italian Bread Crumbs
2 Cups    Vegetable or Canola Oil (To fry)

1    Spaghetti Squash, Cut in half lengthwise with seeds and strings removed
½ Lb    Bacon, Cut in ½” Pieces
¼ Cup    Green Onion, Cut in ¼” Pieces on bias
2 TBSP    Fresh Sage, Chopped
¼ tsp    Thyme, Dry Leaf
To Taste   Salt & Pepper
1 - 24 oz   Salvaggio Marinara Sauce
¼ Cup    Parmesan Cheese

1. In 3 separate shallow bowls, place a mixture of milk and eggs, then a bowl of the seasoned flour and lastly a bowl of the Italian bread crumbs.
2. Dredge eggplant slices in flour, then dip in the beaten egg mixture then in to the bread crumbs. Repeat for all of the slices.
3. Heat oil in a shallow saucepan until medium hot (approximately 350F) then pan fry each slice of breaded eggplant until golden and crisp on each side.
4. Set the cooked eggplant slices aside and prepare the filling.
5. Sauté bacon until crisp and reserve the crisp bacon and grease separately.
6. Pre-heat an oven to 350 F then paint the inside of each spaghetti squash half with bacon grease and season them with salt than pepper. Place the halves upside down on a baking tray, add a splash of water (to create some steam while roasting) and place them in the oven for approximately 45 minute or until the outer skin is soft to the touch.
7. Remove the spaghetti squash from the oven, allow to cool to the touch then gently scrape the inside pulp into a medium size bowl. As you scoop, the pulp should release from the skin in coarse, spaghetti like strings.
8. In a medium size non-stick fry pan, heat 2 TBSP of the reserved bacon grease and sauté the green onions for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the spaghetti squash, sage and thyme then season the mixture with salt and pepper.
9. When cook enough to handle, place approximately ¼ cup of the spaghetti squash mixture at one end of a breaded eggplant slice and roll into a tube. Repeat for all slices.
10. Place all of the Rollatinis in a casserole dish and return to the 350 F oven to re-heat while you also heat the Marinara Sauce

Sautéed Fresh Pumpkin with Bacon & Onions
Yield:   Approximately 4 cups

4 cups    Pumpkin, Raw, Cut Julienne
¼ lb Maple Bacon, Raw,  Cut in ¼ inch pieces
½ ea Red Onion, Medium Size, Cut in Thin Slivers
¼ cup    Green Onion, Cut in ¼ inch bias cuts
¼ tsp    Cracked Black Pepper
to taste    Kosher or Sea Salt

1. In a sauté or fry pan, sauté bacon pieces until nearly crisp.
2. Add red and green onion and sauté one minute.
3. Add pumpkin and sauté 2 to 3 minutes longer or until pumpkin is tender.
4. Season to taste with salt and pepper


Parmesan Roasted Yukon Gold Potato Spears
Serves 6

Yukon Gold potatoes are not essential to this recipe but they accentuate the look of the Parmesan cheese color. They're also a bit richer in potato taste. Choose a quality Parmesan cheese for this recipe. You'll find that it will melt better and not look like toasted saw dust afterwards.

3 Lbs. Yukon Gold Potatoes, Cut in thick, long wedges
1⁄3 Cup    Corn Oil
1 tsp    Granulated Garlic
1 Cup    Parmesan Cheese, grated
1 tsp    Salt
2 TBSP    Parsley Flakes, cry
1 tsp    Black Peppercorn, ground

1. Wash and scrub potatoes under cold running water and drain in a colander.
2. Cut potatoes in thick, long wedges.
3. Place potatoes in bowl with seasonings, corn oil and 1/2 of the grated parmesan cheese and toss.
4. Place potatoes wedge side up and 1" apart on a non-stick baking pan or on parchment.
5. Sprinkle the potatoes with the remaining Parmesan Cheese.
6. Bake in oven at 375 F until golden brown and tender, about 20 - 40 minutes.


Seasonal Roasted Vegetables
Serves 8
Feel free to mix and match various seasonal vegetables as the months go by. This recipe uses dry herbs but fresh herbs are even better! Just double each amount listed.

1 Cup     Baby Carrots, whole
1 Cup     Zucchini, cut in 1" pieces
1 Cup     Yellow Squash, cut in 1" pieces
1 Cup     Cauliflower Florettes, cut in 1" pieces
1     Eggplant, cut in 1" pieces (with or without skin)
1 Cup     Mushrooms, whole or 1" wedges
1 Cup     Brussels Sprouts, cut in half
1     Red Bell Pepper, cut in 1" pieces
1     Orange / Yellow Bell Pepper, cut in 1" pieces
2     Red Onions, cut in 1" pieces
½ Cup     Olive Oil
1 tsp     Garlic Powder
2 tsp     Oregano, dry crushed
½ tsp     Thyme, Dry Leaf
2 TBSP    Salt
2 tsp     Black Pepper, ground

1. Place all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and toss well to mix colors and coat each piece with oil and seasonings.
2. Spread vegetables evenly and without crowding on a non-stick cookie sheet pan and roast in a pre-heated 400F oven for approximately 30 minutes or until vegetables are slightly softened and evenly colored.


Acorn Squash & Honey Pie
Makes 1 - 9" Pie
Serves 6

2 Cups    Acorn Squash, Cooked, Mashed Well
4    Eggs, Extra Large
¾ Cup    Evaporated Milk (or Heavy Cream)
¼ Cup    Honey
½ Cup    Brown Sugar
1 ½ tsp    Cinnamon
¼ tsp    Ground Ginger
Pinch    Nutmeg
½ tsp    Salt
1    9" Pie Shell (unbaked)
To Garnish:   Sweetened Whipped Cream & Toasted Pecans

1. Mix together the above ingredients until well blended then strain and pour into an unbaked 9" diameter pie shell (homemade or store bought).
2. Bake at 375 for approximately 1 hour or until the custard like filling is firm.
3. Chill and serve with whipped cream & toasted pecans


Prepare Ahead Thanksgiving Side Dishes / Good for Traveling

Apple Chutney
Yield Approximately 4 cups

4 Medium or 4 cups  Apples, Granny Smith, peeled, cored and diced ½ inch.
2 TBSP    Salted Butter
1 Cup    Diced, Mixed Dry Fruits (Apricot, Pear, Peach, mango, Pineapple, Raisin, Cherries)
3    Garlic Cloves, Chopped
1 tsp    Ginger, Fresh, Grated
¼ cup    Red Onion, Cut ½ inch
¼ cup    Green Onion, Cut in ¼ inch bias cuts
1 tsp    Kosher Salt
1/8 tsp    Cayenne Pepper
1 cup    Cider Vinegar
1 cup    Granulated Sugar
½ cup    Brown Sugar

1. In a heavy saucepan, over medium high heat, sauté apples in butter until lightly browned.
2. Add all remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer.
3. Simmer very gently on low heat until mixture thickens.
4. Remove sauce pan from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
5. Serve warm or refrigerate.


Twice Baked Yukon Gold Mashed with Crispy Onions
Serves 8 persons

3  lbs     Yukon Gold Potatoes, Peeled, Large Dice
As Needed   Water
1/4 Cup      Egg Yolks (approximately 5)
8 Strips    Bacon, Cut ¼" Pieces Across Width
½ Cup      Green Onions, Chopped
1 Cup       Cheddar Cheese, Shredded
½ Cup      Sour Cream
To Taste   Salt & Pepper
2 Cups    French's® Crispy Onions

1. Sauté bacon until crisp and reserve with its resulting grease.
2. Cook potatoes in gently simmering water until softened. Drain and keep warm.
3. Beat together potatoes, bacon (and grease), egg yolks, green onions, cheese and sour cream.
4. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Spray a 9" x 13" casserole dish with vegetable spray and fill with potato mixture.
6. Bake at 400 F until top is lightly browned and mixture is heated through.
7. Sprinkle crispy onions over top and return to the oven for 10 minutes.
8. Remove from the oven and serve.


Potato Gnocchi Salad with Mushrooms, Asparagus, Bell Peppers and Basil Pesto
Serves 6

1 ¼  Lbs.    Potato Gnocchi (DeLallo brand or other)
As Needed    Salted Water to Cook Gnocchi
½ Bunch    Asparagus, cut in 1 1/2" pieces
2 Cups  Mushrooms, medium large white, quartered
½      Red Bell Pepper, cut 1/4" x 1"
½      Yellow Bell Pepper, cut 1/4" x 1"
¼      Red Onion, cut 1/4" x 2"
¼  Cup     Roasted Garlic Cloves, cut in half
½  Cup     Fresh Basil, chopped
¼  Cup     Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tsp     Sea Salt
1 tsp     Freshly Ground Black Pepper
3/4 Cup    Basil Pesto
1 Cup     Shaved Parmesan Cheese

1. Cook packaged potato gnocchi in boiling water approximately 3 to 5 minutes or until it floats. Rinse in cold water to cool then drain.
2. Separately, sauté asparagus, peppers, onion and mushrooms in olive oil. Chill and toss with gnocchi, roasted garlic, basil and basil pesto.
3. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and chill.
4. Garnish with shaved Parmesan cheese before serving.


Waldorf Salad Medley with Apples, Grapes, Sun-Dried Cherries and Pecans
Serves 4

A Waldorf Salad with the works! The addition of Grapes and Sun-Dried Cherries give both a new texture and color to this otherwise predictable apple salad.

2⁄3 Cup    Mayonnaise
1⁄8 tsp.    Kosher Salt
1 TBSP    Granulated Sugar
½ Cup    Pecans, Halves or Pieces
1 TBSP    Fresh Lemon Juice
3 Medium   Granny Smith Apples, Peeled
½ Cup    Celery, cut on bias 1/4"
½ Cup    Red Grapes, cut in 1/2
¼ Cup    Sun-Dried Cherries

1. Peel, core and dice apples in 1/2" pieces, then place in acidified (lemon juice) and water to prevent browning. Before preparation of salad, drain apples well.
2. Combine mayonnaise, sugar and salt.
3. Stir in pecans, apples, celery, grapes and cherries.


Pumpkin Pecan Biscuits
Serves 6 (Makes about 10 to 12, 2 1/2" biscuits)

These tender, sweet biscuits go great with Pork Roasts or Grilled Chicken or they're fabulous all on their own with honey and butter.

2 Cups    All Purpose Flour
2 TBSP    Granulated Sugar
2 TBSP    Brown Sugar
4 tsp    Baking Powder
½ tsp    Salt
1 tsp    Pumpkin Pie Spice
1 Stick    Salted Butter
1⁄3 Cup    Pecan Pieces, Toasted
2⁄3 Cup    Canned or Cooked Pumpkin
1⁄3 Cup    Half and Half or Heavy Cream

1. In a large bowl, combine the first six ingredients
2. Cut in butter with fork or pastry knife until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
3. Stir in pecans.
4. Combine pumpkin and Half & Half (or cream); stir into dry ingredients.
5. Turn onto a floured surface; and gently fold dough over itself 2 or 3 times.
6. Lightly flour then roll dough to 1/2 inch thickness & cut with a 2 1/2 inch biscuit cutter.
7. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet or non-stick silicone baking mat.
8. Bake at 400 degrees F for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.
9. Serve warm.


Pumpkin Crème Brulee
Makes approximately 4 - 6 ounce Brulee Ramekin Dish Portions

2 Cups    Heavy Cream
1 tsp    Pure Vanilla Extract
¾  Cup    Egg Yolks (Approximately 8)
2 TBSP    Brown Sugar
6 TBSP    Granulated Sugar
1 tsp    Pumpkin Pie Spice Blend
Pinch    Kosher Salt
½ Cup    Cooked Pumpkin Puree

As Needed Granulated Sugar (to brown on finished Pumpkin Brulee afterwards…approx. ¼ cup)

1. Pre-heat oven to 325 F.
2. Place your chosen Brulee ramekins (or cups) on a cookie or baking sheet to which you can also add a bit of water in the pan to create a water bath.
3. In a medium size bowl, beat together egg yolks, sugars, the pumpkin seasonings and pumpkin puree.
4. In a medium size saucepan over medium heat, heat the cream and vanilla together to a simmer then, while stirring, slowly add to the pumpkin mixture.
5. Return the entire mixture to the heat and stir vigorously for 1 minute.
6. Remove the mixture from the heat and portion into the ramekin dishes. Each portion should be at least ½" deep within the dishes.
7. Add some water to the baking pan (1 cup or so) to create humidity in the oven and help the brulee's to bake evenly.
8. Bake approximately 20 to 30 minutes OR until the mixture is just jelly-like firm.
9. Remove ramekins from the oven and allow to cool at room temperature 30 minutes before refrigerating.
10. Refrigerate until cool then sprinkle approximately 1 ½ tsp evenly over the surface of each ramekin's surface and place directly under your oven's broiler to caramelize the sugar to a bubbly brown. Alternately you can use a blow torch to do this equally well.
11. Serve immediately.