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We discussed Thanksgiving menu options during dinner this past weekend. We’ve been leafing through food magazines and scanning recipes on our Website. It's all part of what makes Thanksgiving our favorite holiday. We love the food, too. We love the cooking and fabulous aromas that permeate the house. And we like sharing a special meal with family and friends. To help with your menu planning, we’ve compiled recipes you might use — or use as a jumping off point for creating your own dish. We start with appetizers and end with dessert. We also give you a couple of options for preparing the holiday bird. If you’ll be having vegetarians at your table, we’ve got you covered with a vegetable casserole from Italy.Enjoy your menu planning!


CaponataGive your Thanksgiving an Italian twist with this sweet-and-sour condiment. It combines fried eggplant and other vegetables, and is great on bruschetta. Accompany this dish with your favorite pre-meal libation. The recipe comes from the new cookbook Delicious Memories (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2011), by Anna Boiardi. (Click here to see the recipe.)


Gingery Carrot SoupWe like starting the Thanksgiving meal with soup. This carrot soup has a gorgeous color and gingery kick. To give the soup a creamy texture, you add a potato which is then  puréed along with the other ingredients: carrots, leeks, and ginger. The recipe comes from The San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market Cookbook (Chronicle Books, 2006), by Christopher Hirsheimer and Peggy Knickerbocker. (Click here to see the recipe.)

Side Dishes

Roasted Butternut Squash with Cranberries This colorful dish combines two of our favorite seasonal ingredients: butternut squash and cranberries. It comes from Boston chef Tony Polito, author of Fresh (Aurora Foods Publishing, 2010). (Click here to see the recipe.)

Marinated Butternut SquashYou can probably tell we’re kind of hooked on butternut squash. It’s so good and so seasonal. This dish is easy to prepare and packs some heat via the marinade, which includes garlic, mint, and red pepper flakes. It comes from food blogger Sara Dyson. (Click here to see the recipe.)

Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad The sprouts in this dish are sliced thin and combined with thinly sliced pears. The dish comes together with a dressing made from fresh lemon juice and extra virgin olive. It gets a grating of Pecorino Toscano, an Italian table cheese from Tuscany. The dish comes from San Diego Chef Trey Foshee, who heads the kitchen at George's at the Cove in La Jolla. (Click here to see the recipe.)

Main Course

Juicy Citrus Turkey

This turkey from Tony Polito may be just the ticket if you’re pressed for time or cooking space. The turkey, pictured at the top of the blog, is cut into four pieces and marinated beforehand in extra virgin olive, tomato sauce, lime juice and herbs. The turkey pieces are roasted in a 375 degree Fahrenheit oven for a bit more than two hours, along with onions, carrots and potatoes. The bird and veggies are browned briefly under the broiler before serving. (Click here to see the recipe.)

Herbed Roast Turkey

If you prefer a whole bird, try this recipe. The turkey is rubbed with a paste made from extra virgin olive, garlic and herbs. It’s basted during the cooking process with the same mixture. Bundle some fresh herb stems together to make “basting brush.” (Click here to see the recipe.)

Layered Mixed Vegetable CasseroleYou don’t have to be a vegetarian to enjoy this layered  mixed vegetable casserole from Italy. Author and TV personality Mary Ann Esposito says this dish “is fun to put together.” It’s a bit like assembling the layers of a lasagna. The recipe comes from Esposito’s cookbook Ciao Italia Slow and Easy (St. Martin’s Press, 2007). (Click here to see the recipe.)


Chocolate Almond Torte We made this torte over the weekend. We sent the recipe link to a relative in Baltimore, explaining how good it is. She now plans to make it for Thanksgiving! The recipe comes from dessert guru Alice Medrich. (Click here to see the recipe.)

Pumpkin Pie This version of a Thanksgiving classic features a crust made from extra virgin olive. The recipe comes from Micki Sannar, author of Olive Oil Desserts (Mikko Publishing, 2008). (Click here to see the recipe.)

Bon appétit,Your friends at California Olive Ranch