Thanksgiving, the cherished American holiday, is a time for feasting, gratitude and togetherness.
The holiday's origins can be traced back to a significant event in 1621 when the Pilgrims, early settlers from England, held a harvest feast with the Wampanoag Native Americans in Plymouth, Massachusetts. This gathering is often considered the basis for the modern-day Thanksgiving celebration.
Over time, Thanksgiving has evolved into a beloved holiday that's celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. Families and friends come together to share a meal, which often features turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie, among other traditional dishes.
This Thanksgiving, you may be hosting a smaller gathering and looking for something different from a traditional roasted whole turkey. Or perhaps you’re simply looking to supplement Thanksgiving’s signature staple entrée with something different.
Whether you're hosting a big feast or planning a cozy gathering, these three easy-to-make recipes — homemade stuffing, mashed potatoes and balsamic green beans — will add a burst of flavor and warmth to your celebration. And they each require just five simple ingredients.
1. Homemade stuffing
- 1 loaf of stale or dry bread
- 1 small yellow onion
- 1 ½ cup of pancetta
- Chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons of fresh thyme
The main ingredient in the stuffing is the bread. A homemade bread recipe is most ideal for a stuffing recipe.
Cooking from scratch is truly an option with stuffing. If you don’t have the time or aren’t confident in baking your own bread, a store-bought loaf will work just as well.
Before cooking the stuffing, you’ll need to make sure your bread is stale or dry through and through. If you have newly baked bread that is doughy and moist on the inside, continue to bake it, without burning, until it’s crispy. For store-bought bread, you’ll want to do the same or simply wait until it’s stale but not completely old.
Once you have stale or dry bread ready, add it to a prepared pan that you can place in the oven. Crumble or cut it into bite-size pieces.
In a pan with a little olive oil, sauté the chopped yellow onion until golden brown. Add the pancetta to the same pan and brown the meat. Once done, add everything to the pan with the bread.
Starting with half a cup of chicken stock, spread the broth atop the mixture in the pan. Stir in after every half-cup until the stuffing is somewhat moist with the broth. Stir in the fresh thyme, cover and bake in the oven for 25–30 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Salt and pepper to taste.
If you prefer a few additional ingredients, add finely chopped carrots and celery to the onion and pancetta pan.
2. Homemade mashed potatoes
- 6 Idaho potatoes
- 3-4 fresh garlic cloves
- 3-5 fresh sage leaves
- ¾ stick of butter
- ½ cup of bacon bits
First, wash the potatoes in the sink with soap and warm water to remove any dirt. Then, peel the skin from the potatoes.
Fill a pot with water and bring it to a boil on the stovetop.
Chop the potatoes into 1- to 2-inch pieces for faster cooking. Once the water is boiling, add the potatoes. Check their tenderness with a fork after 10 minutes. If the potatoes don’t fall apart easily, cook for another five minutes. Continue this process until the potatoes are soft enough to mash.
Roast fresh garlic cloves with a little olive oil in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until soft and easily mashed. Add the roasted garlic, chopped sage and the whole ¾ stick of butter to the hot mashed potatoes. The butter will melt itself as you mash and whisk the potatoes.
Mix in the bacon bits and serve hot.
3. Balsamic green beans
- 1 pound of green beans
- A drizzle of balsamic reduction
- ½ cup of crushed or sliced almonds
- ¼ cup of goat cheese
- A drizzle of honey
Begin by cutting the edges of the green beans to remove leftover stems. In an oven preheated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, bake the green beans with a little olive oil drizzled on top. Roast for 12–14 minutes or until a little crispy.
While the beans bake, add the almonds to a baggie and crush with a rolling pin until broken up into small bits. You can also purchase sliced almonds from the grocery store.
In a bowl, toss the almonds, roasted beans, a drizzle of balsamic reduction and a drizzle of honey. Balsamic reduction has a strong flavor, so be sure to avoid adding too much.
Transfer the bean mixture onto a plate and top with pulled-apart crumbles of goat cheese. Serve hot.
Preparing a memorable Thanksgiving dinner doesn’t have to be daunting. With these straightforward recipes, you can focus on enjoying precious moments with your loved ones while relishing these delicious, homemade dishes.
Celebrate the spirit of Thanksgiving with good food, gratitude and cherished company.
Thanksgiving serves as a reminder to appreciate the blessings in our lives and to acknowledge the contributions of diverse cultures in shaping the American identity.
It continues to be a time for reflection, generosity and the spirit of giving back to the community through acts of kindness and charity.