Planning makes the difference between a stressful Thanksgiving and a successful Thanksgiving. My first step is designing the menu. This year my fiancé and I are hosting my parents, and my dad is a traditionalist, so we are sticking with turkey. Depending on how many leftovers you want around the house, plan for 1-2 lbs of meat per person. I’m a fan of cooking too much because in addition to leftovers, my family likes to make turkey soup the day after Thanksgiving. To my celiac friends, be sure you’re buying a bird that hasn’t been injected with ingredients that contain gluten. If you’re eating at someone else’s house for the holidays, don’t eat a gluten-stuffed bird! Whatever you put in the cavity of the turkey makes its way into the meat, so physically avoiding the stuffing isn’t good enough.
The good news is gluten free bread can make fantastic dressing. It’s one of the few bread-heavy dishes that adapts well to being prepared without gluten. This year I’m thinking of a focaccia-based dressing, but I’ve used a variety of gf breads in the past and been satisfied. If you’re a cornbread fan you might want to consider these Double Corn, Quinoa, & Cheddar Muffins either instead of stuffing or as a side dish. I made them last week as a side dish to a simple soup and they made me so happy! If you need to substitute for eggs, this recipe for flax-seed substitute has never failed me.
When it comes to gravy, cornstarch is a common and safe way to make your gravy gf. I also like using potato flour, but it’s definitely an effective thickener, so you need to be careful not to overdo it. Another important consideration is how ambitious to make your meal. I can get stuck thinking it’s not Thanksgiving unless we match my childhood memory of turkey day. With only four of us, I sacrifice sweet potatoes for sanity and consider it worth it.
Without the luxury of multiple ovens, I reserve the oven for my turkey and maybe plan for one more dish or dessert to be baked as well. And that leads me to my final tip—cook in advance! If there are things that can be prepared ahead of time, that is the ultimately key to a fabulous, low-stress holiday dinner. I don’t even like to do all of my shopping in one trip. I am guaranteed to forget something anyway, so it makes sense to divide things up.
With no further ado, here are a few gf favorites that are making their way back to my table this Thanksgiving.
Spinach Salad with Bosc Pears, Cranberries, Red Onion, and Toasted Hazelnuts. Salad is usually the least remarked upon dish as a Thanksgiving table. Not so with this recipe! It’s the only time I’ve watched guests take seconds of salad. For the Northwest crowd, I love the use of local pears and hazelnuts. Things you can do ahead: make the dressing, toast the hazelnuts, and soak the red onion. Yes, I said soak the red onion. Soaking onion in chilled water makes them milder, so they retain just the right amount of sharpness to accompany the pears and cranberries.
Cranberry and Tart-Cherry Compote. The tartness of the lime and dried cherries are balanced by cinnamon and currant jelly. Things you can do ahead: I make this up to a week in advance.
Spiced Pumpkin Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. This is the most delicious cake I’ve ever eaten, and it’s great for people who are gf because the pumpkin and pineapple keep it moist. Things you can do ahead: It’s easy to make the frosting a couple of days in advance. This cake just gets more dense and delicious as it sits, so you can bake it 1-2 days in advance as well. I’ve also made it in cupcake form and it turned out wonderfully. That method is far simpler and equally delicious, so I highly recommend it. Either way, you really only need about half of the frosting.
These are just a few of the recipes I’m bringing back this year. I will be blogging all the way through the holidays and the other dishes are bound to make their way here. I hope you keep reading! I always love suggestions, so feel free to add recipes for your Thanksgiving favorites in the comments.
As a parting gift to you, my readers, enjoy these Thanksgiving links!
For the gffriendly crowd
If you’re stressed and need a laugh
A song for while you cook
This Land is Your Land by Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings