As you prepare for this season of celebrations, consider recipes that offer a fresh approach to the traditional holiday menu. With its sweet simplicity and vibrant color, a garnish featuring California grapes can make your meal presentation even more enticing. Keep those mealtime traditions intact by serving favorites like Brussels sprouts, but pair them with sweet California grapes in a salad for the perfect balance of flavor and crunchy texture.
A beloved side dish, such as cornbread dressing, will exceed all expectations with ingredients like red and green grapes, butternut squash, walnuts and pancetta. Complete the meal with a new twist on a trifle that results in a rich dessert worthy of any gathering for the holidays and beyond.
Helpful Tips for the Perfect Holiday Turkey
- When shopping for your turkey, look for one with a pop-up timer.
- To thaw your turkey, keep it in the refrigerator based on its weight. For example, it should remain in the refrigerator for 24 hours for every 5 pounds. To thaw quickly, place it in the sink and cover with cold water, changing the water every half hour per pound.
- Once the turkey has thawed, always refrigerate or cook immediately.
- When you’re ready to cook, baste the bird with extra virgin olive oil. Place turkey with the breast up on a rack in a shallow roasting pan in an oven preheated to 325°F. Loosely cover turkey with foil to prevent over-browning.
- The turkey is done cooking when the meat thermometer reads 180°F, or if the red stem on the pop-up timer is up and the drumstick feels soft or moves easily.
- Always allow the bird to rest for at least 20 minutes for easy carving.
- Present your turkey on a platter with a fresh and colorful garnish, such as California grapes.
Start earlier in the day to avoid waiting when your guests arrive, a turkey’s size and weight determines the amount of time it takes to cook. For large or small families, it is best to start preparations earlier in the day to avoid last minute rushed cooking which can have a great impact on the taste of your meal. This also will increase the presentation of your Thanksgiving spread, making your hard work really shine. Starting early also allows for a less stressful atmosphere since you will not be rushing to make everything, the more relaxed you are the more relaxed your family and guests will be.
Here are some great recipe ideas for your Thanksgiving
Cornbread Dressing with Roasted Grapes, Walnuts and Pancetta
2 cups red seedless California grapes
2 cups green seedless California grapes
2 cups cubed butternut squash
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
6 ounces diced pancetta
3/4 cup sliced celery
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 cups coarsely crumbled cornbread (either store-bought or prepared from a mix), toasted
3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons butter, melted
3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1 egg, beaten
Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss grapes and squash cubes together in large bowl with oil, salt and pepper, to taste. Spread in single layer on baking sheet and roast for about 20–30 minutes, until grapes have begun to slightly shrivel and squash is tender. Set aside.
Heat large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and cook pancetta until it begins to brown slightly. Add celery and onions and cook until tender and onions are translucent, about 5–6 minutes. Add garlic and cook for one minute more. Remove from heat. In large bowl, combine cornbread, pancetta mixture, grapes, squash, walnuts, sage and salt and pepper to taste, if desired. Set aside. In medium bowl, whisk together broth, butter, vinegar and egg. Pour over cornbread mixture and toss well to combine.
Spray 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Spoon dressing evenly into dish. (At this point, you can either bake immediately or cover and refrigerate overnight to bake the next day.)
Bake, covered with foil, at 350°F for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake another 20 minutes, or until warmed through and golden brown.
Nutrition information per serving: 442 calories; 18 g fat (4 g saturated fat); 37% calories from fat; 14 g protein; 54 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 75 mg cholesterol; 1103 mg sodium; 475 mg potassium.
Raw Vegetable and Grape Salad
2 cups shredded or very thinly sliced Brussels sprouts
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup thinly sliced fennel
1/2 cup cooked, chopped bacon (6 slices)
4 cups green and red seedless California grapes, halved
1/2 cup sliced green onions
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Toss all salad ingredients together in large bowl. Whisk together all dressing ingredients in medium bowl and drizzle over salad. Toss until ingredients are well coated with dressing.
Nutrition information per serving: 226 calories; 14 g fat (4 g saturated fat); 55% calories from fat; 8 g protein; 19 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 17 mg cholesterol; 516 mg sodium; 471 mg potassium.