Pumpkins, corn, and other native foods typically show up on Turkey Day, but I like to give my Thanksgiving meal a tasty twist by blending traditions. Italy’s prized cheeses, Belgium’s bitter lettuces, Chinese five-spice powder, and flaky Greek phyllo make for delicious and sophisticated holiday starters that still marry beautifully with the more traditional dishes that are likely to fill the table. And because Thanksgiving is the official kickoff of the busy holiday season, radically simple ideas are most welcome. That’s why all of these dishes can be made ahead or whipped up quickly.
Phyllo cups filled with ricotta, chèvre, and thyme are the perfect crispy-creamy predinner nibble to offer guests along with a flute of fizzy Champagne as they settle in.
When it’s time to sit down to dinner, start with either soup or salad. The brilliant orange soup blends pumpkin, sweet potato, and red bell peppers until silky and finishes with a pat of butter for creamy flavor. Add texture by garnishing with toasted nuts, if you like. And the colorful salad, tinged with smoke and sweetness, is sure to be a favorite all winter long.