While Thanksgiving is not a traditional Jewish holiday, it certainly reflects many of our Jewish beliefs and traditions. The seasonal flavors conjure up warm memories for many North Americans everywhere. So whether you are a Canadian living in Jerusalem or an Australian married to an American or you just feel like trying a turkey dinner with some healthier trimmings... have a happy, healthy and kosher Thanksgiving!

Main Course: Oven Roasted Turkey with Gravy and Fresh Cranberry Relish
Vegetarian Main Dish Option: BBQ Tofu with Black Beans and Brown Rice
Side 1: Roasted Potatoes, Carrots and Onions
Side 2: Butternut Squash and Apples
Side 3: Green Beans with Portabella Mushrooms
Salad: Lettuce with Beets, Oranges, Yellow Pepper and Pecans
Dessert: Warm Autumn Pears

Oven Roasted Turkey

Baste turkey sparingly with vegetable oil for even browning and moist texture. Roast at 325 degrees according to package directions (20 minutes per pound is a good starting point.) You can use a meat thermometer or check that the juice runs clear to be sure the turkey is fully cooked. Be sure to allow several days to thaw (packaged, in the refrigerator) assuming you have purchased the bird frozen!

Gravy

Ingredients

  • sliced mushrooms
  • sliced celery
  • sliced onions
  • one can chicken broth
  • salt, pepper, garlic powder and poultry seasoning

Directions

I prefer using a whole turkey breast as opposed to an entire turkey so I don't have a lot of "pan drippings" to work with. Instead I saute fresh sliced mushrooms, celery and onions in a little vegetable oil and add this mixture to a can of chicken broth to serve on the side for those who like gravy.

Fresh Cranberry Relish

Ingredients

  • 12 oz. fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • orange juice (optional)
  • honey (optional)

Directions

Combine cranberries with sugar and water. Heat to boiling and simmer at least ten minutes. I sometimes add a splash of orange juice and a touch of honey (which works nicely if you wish to cut down on the sugar). Adjust to taste after cooking if desired.

BBQ Tofu with Black Beans and Brown Rice

This is a hearty and unusual side dish which makes a substantial vegetarian main course for vegetarians.

Ingredients

  • 1 box extra firm tofu (drained and sliced or cubed)
  • 1 15-16 oz. can (2 cups) black beans (drained)
  • prepared BBQ sauce to taste (I use about 3/4 of a 28 oz. bottle)
  • cooked brown rice (made from 1 cup of dry rice)

Directions

In a baking tin, layer cooked brown rice with the black beans and the tofu. Pour BBQ sauce over all. Bake covered at 400 degrees until heated throughout. Check after 40 minutes or to determine if desired consistency has been reached.

Roasted Potatoes with Carrots and Onions

Ingredients

  • sliced onions
  • carrots
  • sliced potatoes
  • olive oil
  • salt, pepper, garlic powder, rosemary and thyme

Directions

In a baking tin, toss sliced onions, carrots (I use peeled and sliced baby carrots for convenience) and sliced potatoes (peeled or unpeeled) with a drizzle of olive oil. Season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, rosemary and thyme. Bake at 400 degrees until fork tender (check after 45 minutes). Leave tin uncovered for crispier vegetables or cover with foil during cooking to retain moisture. (I like to start with a cover and uncover during the last 15 minutes or so.)

Butternut Squash with Apples

I am lucky enough to be able to purchase peeled and cubed butternut squash in my local grocery store which makes this dish truly effortless to prepare. It's still really simple even if you have to peel and cube your own squash! Allow one apple and half a squash or so per guest to determine quantities.

Ingredients

  • red apples sliced and unpeeled; any type is fine
  • butternut squash (peeled and cubed)
  • apple juice
  • cloves

Directions

Toss apples with butternut squash in a baking tin. Pour apple juice over all just enough to moisten adequately. Add a generous pinch of cloves (not too much, though, as the taste can be overpowering). Bake covered until just fork tender, checking first after 30 minutes to ensure desired consistency.

Green Beans with Portabella Mushrooms

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds fresh green beans
  • 2 large portabella mushrooms
  • olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar (If you can't find a kosher brand such as Bartenura, red wine vinegar works just fine.)
  • jarred whole or chopped garlic cloves (Fresh is even better if you have the time.)
  • salt and pepper

Directions

Cut tails off of green beans (I leave the natural tip as it holds a nice shape and cuts down on preparation time!) Boil water in saucepan and cook green beans uncovered until al dente. (Start tasting after about 4 minutes and check every minute or so afterward to make sure they don‘t get overdone.) Drain when finished and rinse with cold water to preserve color and stop the cooking process. Coat saute pan with olive oil and add sliced mushrooms and garlic when hot. Drizzle with vinegar while cooking, stirring occasionally. Cook until fork tender and add to green beans. Season with salt and pepper and toss gently.

Lettuce with Beets, Oranges, Yellow Pepper and Pecans

Ingredients

  • romaine lettuce leaves
  • 1 can sliced beets
  • 1 peeled and sliced naval orange
  • 1 chopped or thinly sliced yellow bell pepper

Directions

Add all ingredients together. Toss with good quality bottled French dressing and a generous handful of pecans. If available, candied pecans are a nice treat but plain raw nuts taste great as well.

Warm Autumn Pears

Ingredients

  • Fresh pears (Allow one pear per guest. Bosc preferred but any kind will do.)
  • maple syrup
  • chopped walnuts or slivered almonds

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut each pear into quarters and remove core and stems. Arrange in a baking tin and drizzle with pure maple syrup and chopped walnuts OR slivered almonds. Bake lightly covered until fork tender (check after 25 minutes and stir once to baste the fruit). Serve in individual dishes or family style from a platter and offer pareve vanilla soy or rice "ice cream" on the side, if desired.

Variations: Try adding dried cranberries before baking or omitting the nuts and sprinkling with pareve chocolate chips right after removing pears from the oven!

Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy!