Creamy Butternut-Leek Bisque
Whole-grain quinoa simmers in the soup and then gets blended into the mix—resulting in a thick, creamy, luscious texture. Don’t be afraid to let the blender go for a couple of minutes; that’s the path to super-smooth results. We call for precut-prepped butternut squash because it’s a real time-saver, slashing up to 20 minutes of prep time; you’ll find bags of the peeled, cubed squash in the produce section with the bags of broccoli florets and other prepared-prepped veggies. For the prettiest appearance, go with beige-colored quinoa and skip red or tricolored varieties. Greek yogurt goes into the soup to brighten the taste, and another dollop goes on top as a finishing touch along with crunchy almonds.
Tricolored Beet Tart
Start your holiday meal with a simple yet gorgeous beet tart, topped off with tangy goat cheese, crunchy hazelnuts, and flaky sea salt. Par-bake the crust to get a lovely raised edge (what forms the shell of your tart) and ensure that the bottom will be cooked through. If you or your guests are not beet fans, substitute sweet potatoes: Wrap 4 (4-ounce) sweet potatoes in parchment paper, and microwave at HIGH 3 minutes. Then cool, peel, and slice. You can also sub feta for goat cheese and pecans or walnuts for hazelnuts.
Sesame-Soy Nut and Pretzel Mix
If any one dish is devoured quickly and constantly (usually by the fistful) throughout the holiday, it’s snack mix. Consisting of salty nuts, pretzels, and cereal doused with a Worcestershire and butter, this innocent munchie racks up sodium and calories quickly. Our healthier version gives you all the salt, crunch, and bold spices of the original with the addition of whole-grain popcorn, toasty whole-wheat cereal, and spicy wasabi peas. The peas inspired an Asian track with toasty sesame oil and reduced-sodium soy sauce, cashews, and pungent ground ginger.
Whole-Grain Spelt and Cornmeal Biscuits
Gently pat the dough flat instead of rolling with a rolling pin. Patting preserves all the pockets of fat needed for flaky biscuits, whereas rolling pancakes them into small, dense pucks. Cut the biscuits into squares to avoid any leftover scraps. This will also help you avoid the twisting motion of using a cutter that can also lead to flat biscuits. Spelt flour adds a deep nutty flavor, but you can use white whole-wheat flour if you can't find spelt.
Roasted Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes
View Recipe: Pumpkin Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili
The ultimate vegetarian chili powered by fall flavors. Sweet potato, black beans, and plenty of aromatics simmer in a velvety, pumpkin-infused tomato broth that is ultra rich and comforting. A pinch of cinnamon and dash of chipotle chili powder add a robust flavor profile that will warm you up from the inside out. Add any pumpkin-flavored beer you like. As far as toppings, the sky is the limit. We swoon over a hearty dollop of 2% Greek yogurt, fresh cilantro, and green onion.
Whole-Wheat Seeded Breadsticks
Just a couple of turns of the wrist transforms ordinary breadsticks into lovely holiday twists. The key is to twist the dough no more than three times, otherwise the breadsticks will become too tightly wound and lose their subtle corkscrew shape. Gently score the rectangle of dough to measure out the strips before cutting them (a 12-inch ruler is especially helpful here). We love an “everything” mix of seeds, but you can use any combination you like. You can also substitute chopped fresh herbs, grated fresh orange rind, or freshly cracked black pepper.
Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Pomegranate and Pine Nuts
This staff favorite adds color and texture to your buffet and makes a splash on the Thanksgiving table. For a bit of showmanship, bring the whole cauliflower to the table, and then "carve" and dress with the vinaigrette, pomegranate arils, pine nuts, and parsley. While most holiday dishes are designed to be delicious warm or at room temperature, this is one dish that's worth saving until the end of your prep and serving straight out of the oven.
Grapefruit, Endive, and Arugula Salad
Give yourself the gift of one worry-free dish this holiday season. This 15-minute, no-cook, citrus-flecked salad tastes best when it sits at least 10 minutes. No guest will be able to resist our lemony homemade vinaigrette, which adds sweet flavor without lots of fat, calories, or carbs. Tossing the endive leaves in the vinaigrette first softens their bitter edge. You could also sub thinly sliced fennel or chopped Romaine hearts. Top with chopped walnuts, Gorgonzola cheese, and grapefruit slices.
Sheet Pan Roasted Vegetables
A mix of colorful root vegetables may be your star side. Peeled, prechopped butternut squash saves time, but pieces tend to be irregular and small—we prefer peeling and cubing it yourself.
• • Gluten-Free Tip: Some mustards don't contain gluten, however avoid those that aren't labeled "gluten free" because there is a concern for cross-contamination.
Spinach and Feta Quiche with Sweet Potato Crust
The simple, scalloped shell made from thinly sliced rounds of sweet potatoes makes this version of a popular brunch (or supper) dish gluten-free. Choose potatoes with comparable diameters to create uniform slices for the easy-to-make crust. A mandoline makes slicing quick and precise, but a sharp chef's knife will work too. You can also slice the potatoes in the food processor using the slicing blade.
Creamy Artichoke and Asparagus Lasagna
Lemon rind brightens the sauce, making for a more delicate lasagna. To save on salt, use frozen artichokes, which contain a quarter of the sodium of the canned variety that are usually packed in brine.
Butternut Squash Crown Roast
Prepare to watch jaws drop when you bring this dish to the table. Thanksgiving requires a presentation-worthy featured main, but it doesn't have to be a turkey every time. This year, impress your guests with a crown roast of butternut squash.
Sweet Potato Gratin
Evaporated milk unifies and enriches the layers of this dish. Use all sweet potatoes or mix them up. Use a loaf pan for maximum height, and bake gratin up to 2 days ahead. Rewarm, covered, in a 350° oven for 30 minutes.
The harissa spices are muted here, lending complexity but not heat.
Roasted Parsnips with Lemon and Herbs
If you’re not familiar with parsnips, try these quick recipes to acquaint yourself with them. The root veggies look like white carrots and have a decidedly sweet, earthy flavor. Shop for medium to small parsnips, as larger ones tend to have tough, woody cores. In the main recipe here, a hit of fresh lemon juice and sprinkling of fresh herbs make the whole dish taste fresh and bright. If you don’t have parsley on hand, you can leave it out, but do seek out the dill.
Sweet Potato Medallions with Almond Sauce and Chickpea Salad
It may seem too good to be true, but it's not: This impressive plate requires only 5 ingredients (water, oil, salt, and pepper are freebies). Microwaved sweet potatoes are sliced into medallions, brushed with oil, and lightly seared so they become satisfyingly steak-like. The creamy, nutty sauce adds richness, and the lemon-dressed arugula-chickpea salad bulks up the plate beautifully. In place of almond butter, you can use any nut butter you like—try peanut, cashew, or sunflower butter. And if canned chickpeas aren't in your pantry, try cannellini or navy beans.
Vegetable Lasagna with Butternut Béchamel
For a lighter take on this classic, we substitute hearty butternut squash for butter, which becomes velvety and creamy when blended with garlic and milk. Our saucy lasagna packs more than 2 cups of vegetables into each slice, is overflowing with melty cheese, and has half the calories of the original.
Braised Artichokes, Favas, and Carrots in Creamy Lemon Sauce with Fennel
We love the artichokes in this dish—they add their unique flavor and somehow make everything taste just a little sweeter. The olive oil emulsifies with the braising liquid to create a silky sauce that deliciously coats the bright spring veggies. Thin lemon slices, charred and caramelized in a cast-iron pan, make a nice garnish.
Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad
Chef Jonathan Waxman taught Cooking Light Editor Hunter Lewis how to make this fall salad many years ago. Riff with the ingredients to find the flavor balance you prefer. With a zing of fresh citrus to cut through the acidity, this crunchy winter salad is the perfect light addition to your holiday spread.
For a vegan version, omit the parmesan.
Take a break from traditional holiday pies and try this grape tart instead. The grapes become tender and intensely juicy in the oven. Floral, slightly bitter marmalade helps to bind the filling and balance the fruit. Let the galette sit at room temperature while you complete your holiday prep so the juices can thicken. Warm in a 300°F oven for 10 minutes before serving.
Raspberry-Swirl Mini Bundt Cakes
It's best to make one batch of cakes at a time (don't double the batter), though you can easily double the raspberry mixture. If you don't have a minibundtlette pan, you can make one large Bundt cake instead. If you have an 8-cup Bundt pan, that's ideal, but a 10-cup pan will work, too (the cake just won't be as tall). Bake at 350° for 25 to 28 minutes or until a wooden pick comes out clean. Spreading the batter evenly in minibundtlette cups can be a little tricky. Try spooning the batter into a large zip-top plastic bag; then snip off one bottom corner of the bag, and pipe batter into cups.
Pretty Packaging: To keep cakes looking their best, make sure the glaze is fully set before packaging. For individual treats, place one cake on a tissue paper square, place into a cellophane bag, and tie with ribbon.