If you’re bored with the same old thing when it comes to Thanksgiving, we’re here to help you change things up and put a modern spin on your turkey day menu. We share some inspiring ideas that will help shake up your Thanksgiving dinner this season.
Serve a signature festive cocktail
Starting off your Thanksgiving meal with a signature cocktail is a great way to add a festive spin to the day and make guests feel even more welcome. We love the idea of a Champagne and apple cider cocktail. It’s simple, it fits the season, and it’s elegant without putting people off or seeming pretentious. Simply fill a Champagne flute two-thirds full of Champagne or a dry, sparkling wine, and top the rest with apple cider. Float some pomegranate seeds in the glass for colour. Serve the drink before dinner and as guests arrive.
Create some standout sides
Surprise guests by taking traditional side dishes and giving them a more modern spin. There’s no need to totally overhaul or eliminate crowd-pleasing favourites, but you can update them with a few simple but tasty changes.
- Instead of simply mashing potatoes, turnips or sweet potatoes, serve a mixture of aromatic roasted root vegetables. Cube your vegetables of choice, add several peeled cloves of garlic and sprigs of rosemary or thyme, and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast at 425 degrees F for 40 to 50 minutes or until the veggies are fork-tender.
- You can also trade green bean casserole for a lighter side dish. Sauté your beans until just tender-crisp, dress with lemon and olive oil, and serve with roasted slivered almonds.
- Say goodbye to boiled and bland Brussels sprouts. Quarter them; toss with olive oil, salt and pepper; and roast them at 425 degrees F for 20 to 30 minutes or until crispy on the outside (outer leaves will char) and tender on the inside.
- Please vegetarians with a quinoa salad. Toss cooked quinoa with diced seasonal vegetables, fresh herbs and toasted hazelnuts, and dress with a balsamic vinaigrette.
Set a seasonally stylish table
Update your table setting for Thanksgiving along with your menu. If you’re usually drawn to darker hues and fall colours for your table — like reds, oranges and browns — it’s time to lighten things up. Switch to a white tablecloth and white dishware, and add pops of bold colours (blues, greens, purples) with candles, serving bowls and placemats. Or use white dishware atop a bold tablecloth, and add a centrepiece of bright white blooms. Taking a more minimalist approach or one that uses lighter hues helps modernize your table and will better highlight the food.
Add a twist to your turkey
If everyone comes to your house for your famous turkey that no one else can replicate, modernize the rest of your table, and leave the turkey alone. But if you’re looking for some new ways to serve your bird, there are many ways to switch things up.
- Grill turkey breasts and thighs instead of roasting a whole bird.
- Change up what you baste your bird with, and use Moroccan or Asian spices instead of your usual seasonings.
- Don’t serve turkey at all, and instead serve roasted chicken, pork loin or even grilled fish.
- Serve pan-fried turkey cutlets with spicy cranberry sauce.
Quick tip: If you want to do something really different, choose a theme (Mexican, Cajun, Chinese, etc.), and create a turkey dish based on that theme.
Do dessert a little differently
Pumpkin pie and apple pie are Thanksgiving favourites and often appear on many dining tables year after year, but why not do something different this year when it comes to serving dessert? If you want to stick with tradition but still switch things up slightly, serve mini-apple and pumpkin tarts so guests can feel good about trying one of each. But otherwise, think about highlighting pears (in a tart or cake), serving a simple but festive pumpkin coffee cake, making pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting or adding cranberries to your apple pie for a tart and sophisticated twist. Browsing the Thanksgiving dessert ideas on a site like Tastespotting can offer more inspiration to think outside the box.