Remember that Gilmore Girls episode where Rory and Lorelai were invited to four different places for Thanksgiving? Rory, a little nervous that they were over-committing and could never possibly eat that much food, is challenged by her mom, Lorelai who says, “It’s not too much food! This is what we’ve been training for our whole lives”. Well, our Thanksgiving this year was basically a recreation of that episode – a marathon of Thanksgivings that I’m still recovering from. Luckily, in our case, there were no turkey fryer fires or unpleasant Emily Gilmore’s to appease, just mass amounts of delicious food and quality time with the sweetest friends.
Patrick worked into the afternoon, so I began the day at my friend, Irene’s, house. Irene’s family from Barranquilla, Colombia was in town, as well as her future in-laws who have Cuban roots. The food was a mix of traditional Thanksgiving dishes like stuffing and cranberry sauce, as well as a few sides with some Colombian flair, like coconut rice and carrot and pea potato salad. I tried not to over-do it and just tasted a bite or two of everything, but looking back on it I should have probably indulged a little more on the coconut rice. It was ridiculously good! I never knew rice could be so flavorful or that I could actually enjoy anything with raisins in it. Irene tried to translate the recipe to me, but I apparently didn’t listen very well, because I’ve now learned light coconut milk is not the same as the real stuff and cannot be substituted in this particular recipe. But, not to worry. I’m determined to master it eventually. Either that, or take a trip to Barranquilla for more of her mom’s Colombian home cooking.
Once Patrick got off work, we went to our friends’ Thomas and Natalie’s house for dinner. Natalie’s angel biscuits were one of my favorite bites of the day. I’m a firm believer that warm homemade bread is one of life’s greatest comforts. Natalie’s mom, Yvonne, made creamy mashed potatoes that she topped with french fried onions – the perfect combination of textures and flavors! Thomas’ mom, Mary, made an incredible chocolate pecan pie that was possibly the most decadent pie I’ve ever tasted. I made a brussels sprout and sweet potato salad. Now, I think it’s important to recognize that on a holiday like Thanksgiving, if you bring a salad it’s probably not going to be the most popular side dish. Competing against favorites like green bean casserole or macaroni and cheese is no easy feat. However, if any salad can hold its own, I believe this one is a pretty strong contender. Spinach and brussels make up the base and then you top it with pomegranate, feta, walnuts and warm sweet potatoes, and finish with a drizzle of homemade vinaigrette. The pop of color from the pomegranates gives it a festive feel and the potatoes make it hearty enough to be a meal in itself.
Everything was so lovely and just when I thought I couldn’t eat another bite, we headed to our friends’ Kate and Ryan’s house for dessert! Kate made three gorgeous pies – pumpkin, apple, and dutch apple. I miraculously found enough room for a tiny sliver of pumpkin and apple pie, and am glad I did. I mean, really, would it even feel like Thanksgiving without a slice of pumpkin pie? I wouldn’t want to find out!
Patrick and I have been so blessed to find a community here in Florida. For the first two years of marriage we moved around every six months and found it difficult to make many friends or plant roots. This past year of stability (and no moves!) has allowed us to grow some really beautiful friendships for which I am deeply THANKFUL.
Brussels Sprouts & Sweet Potato Salad
How are people so good at remembering to take pictures of everything all the time? Especially the important stuff, like the one dish you make on Thanksgiving that you’re going to write a blog post about. Well, I obviously have not mastered that skill yet, because it NEVER crossed my mind to take a picture of one single plate of food that day. So, this blurry image taken a few weeks back when I first made this salad for dinner is saving the day. Even though it’s hard to tell in this picture, it truly is a gorgeous salad!
- 2 sweet potatoes (peeled and cubed)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- salt & pepper
- 10 oz. package shaved brussels sprouts
- 6 oz. package baby spinach
- 2-3 oz. pomegranate seeds
- 1/3 cup raw walnuts (chopped)
- 4 oz. feta (crumbled)
- your favorite vinaigrette
- Preheat the oven to 425°.
- Drizzle the sweet potatoes with 2-3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (I highly recommend trying Trader Joe’s Garlic EVOO), sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast until tender, about 25 minutes.
- In a large bowl, mix the brussels sprouts, spinach, pomegranate seeds, walnuts and feta.
- Add in the warm sweet potatoes.
- Toss with any vinaigrette of your choice! I went with the no-fail Apple Cider Vinaigrette that you can find here.
What is YOUR favorite Thanksgiving side dish? Did you have any major wins or disasters in the kitchen this Thanksgiving? I would love to hear.