Here's a meat-free feast that can take center stage at any celebration.
Credit: Photography: Randy Mayor

Come the holidays, we want to fuss a bit in the kitchen. It's the perfect season to pull out the stops, to take on cooking projects that are more time consuming than usual. Certainly they stand apart from the everyday meals we cobble together day in and day out. This is the time for a splurge.

But it's not the time for hassle, so just follow our easy countdown to Thanksgiving dinner.

Up to 3 days ahead:

For the main course, prepare the Red Wine Sauce and cook the Lentils with Carrots. Cover and store in the refrigerator

For the Belgian Endive-and-Apple Salad, whisk the ingredients for the salad dressing. Store in the refrigerator.

Thanksgiving Day, several hours before serving:

For the Belgian Endive-and-Apple Salad, toss the julienned apple with the salad dressing.

For the main course, peel shallots, and cut the carrots and mushrooms.

For the Celeriac Puree, chop the leeks, celeriac, and potatoes; place in a saucepan and cover with water.

One hour or less before serving:

Finish preparing the Braised Shallots and Fall Vegetables with Red Wine Sauce.

Prepare Celeriac Puree; keep warm.

For the Belgian Endive-and-Apple Salad, slice the endive; toss with apple mixture.