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Italian Thanksgiving menu and recipes

Michele Borboa, MS is a freelance writer and editor specializing in health, fitness, food, lifestyle, and pets. Michele is a health and wellness expert, personal chef, cookbook author, and pet-lover based in Bozeman, Montana. She is also...

Go Italian with your Thanksgiving feast

Instead of the usual roasted turkey, stuffing and mashed potato Thanksgiving meal, give your Turkey Day feast an Italian theme with classic Italian flavors. We've got tasty Italian alternatives for your Thanksgiving side dish, dessert and drink recipes. We've even got a sweet potato recipe from Chef Fabio Viviani and a delectable dessert from Ron Suhanosky, author of The Italian Table.

Panzanella Salad

Panzanella salad with fresh figs

Ingredients:

  • 1 small cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeded, sliced crosswise
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced crosswise
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, each halved
  • 4 to 5 large fresh figs, each quartered
  • 4 cups torn romaine lettuce
  • 1 cup fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup torn fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 cups torn pieces or diced day-old Italian bread
  • Shaved Parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. Place bread in a bowl and add enough water to moisten. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine cucumber, onion, celery, tomatoes, figs, romaine, parsley and basil, tossing to combine.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Add bread to salad and drizzle with vinaigrette. Toss to combine.
  5. Divide salad onto chilled salad plates and season with salt and pepper. Garnish with Parmesan and serve.

Homespun goat milk gelato

Need a special addition to serve alongside the classic pecan and pumpkin pies? You've got to make this vanilla-kissed goat milk gelato, featured in Ron Suhanosky's cookbook The Italian Table. Beautifully illustrated, filled with delicious family-style Italian recipes, you'll certainly find a few more reasons to cook Italian every week.

Serves 8

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups fresh goat milk
  • 1 vanilla bean, scraped
  • 10 large egg yolks
  • 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions:

  1. Place the milk and vanilla bean and scraped seeds in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over low to medium heat until warm.
  2. Place the egg yolks, sugar and salt in a stainless steel bowl and beat with a whisk until the mixture is a pale yellowish white. Temper the warm milk into the yolk mixture by carefully whisking about one cup of the milk into the yolks. Then whisk entire yolk mixture into the milk.
  3. Cook over low heat, stirring continuously for about eight minutes, until the gelato mixture has thickened slightly and coats the back of a spoon.
  4. Prepare an ice bath: Place a stainless steel bowl over another, slightly larger bowl filled with ice water.
  5. Pass the gelato mixture through a fine mesh strainer into the top bowl. Remove vanilla bean then place gelato mixture in an ice cream machine and process according to the manufacturer's instructions. Serve or freeze.

Ricossa di Pera

A sparkling low-alcohol Italian wine, Ricossa Moscato d'Asti is a festive sip for any holiday occasion, but especially for an Italian-themed meal. Though you can enjoy this libation straight from the bottle, we love pairing it with fruit.

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, combine one cup wine and sliced pears. Set aside for five minutes.
  2. Drain wine from the pears into a pitcher. Spread pears on a plate and freeze until firm.
  3. Add pear juice and remaining wine to the pitcher and gently mix. Keep chilled.
  4. When ready to serve, add a slice of pear to each glass and pour.

More Thanksgiving recipe ideas

The best Mexican Thanksgiving menu and recipes
3 Non-pie Thanksgiving pumpkin desserts
Thanksgiving alternatives to can-shaped cranberry sauce

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