With Thanksgiving a couple of weeks away now is a good time to plan your menu. I planned mine over the weekend. Here are some things one should take into consideration when deciding what dishes to serve on the big day.
- Start by choosing a theme. Traditional to modern, Italian to Southern, the possibilities for a menu's theme are endless.
- Search a wide range of sources for recipes that match your theme.
- Know your guests. If one friend is allergic to peanuts and another is a vegetarian, respect these dietary needs by serving dishes that everyone can enjoy.
- Several vegetarians in attendance? Think about serving a vegetable entree that's a hearty alternative to turkey.
For the rest of my tips,
- Combine new dishes with classic favorites. Every year my brother insists that I make the same pecan-topped sweet potatoes. I oblige and experiment with new recipes for the mashed potatoes and turkey.
- Think about the texture and color of the food. The dishes should be pleasing to the eye and palate.
- Avoid over-using a single ingredient. If you make wild rice stuffing with goat cheese, don't serve a spinach salad with goat cheese or goat cheese stuffed mushrooms.
- Look at the cooking technique of each dish. Because the turkey will occupy the oven, make sure some items can be made on the stove, grill, or in a slow cooker.
- Choose recipes that make sense and use seasonal ingredients. Caprese salad — as delicious as it is — does not belong on a Thanksgiving table.
- Don't go overboard on the appetizers. Serve enough to tide guests over, but leave plenty of room for the main meal.
- Consider your kitchen space and cooking gadgets. If you don't have a food processor, stay away from a pumpkin soup that must be pureed.
- Ask your family to get involved! This year my sister came to me and said she was ready for more responsibility than mashed potatoes. She wants to make a dessert, so I said, go ahead.
How do you select a Thanksgiving menu? What will you be serving this year?