Angry turkey

Are you tired of the same old, same old when it comes to Thanksgiving? We are.

Last week Grist General Manager Rebecca Farwell complained that “Thanksgiving without deviation ad infinitum is ad nauseum, and just plain tragic,” and plotted to add blue cheese to her mashed potatoes and swap pumpkin risotto for pie.

We asked readers and the Grist staff to tell us what deviant dishes they were planning this holiday.

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P.S. This time, meat-eaters and vegetarians — can we try to dine together without holding a fork to each others’ throats?

Gnocchi rowsOh, you delicious little dumplings!Photo: Kaela PorterKaela Porter, Grist reader and local-foods blogger

Like Rebecca’s, my husband is requiring standard turkey gravy (blecch), basic mashed sweet potatoes (at least I put the kibosh on mini-marshmallows), and stuffing (I asked him if he wanted stuffing and he replied, “Do I breathe air?”) on our Thanksgiving table. Of course, since I am the head chef, so to speak, I get to include some of my requirements as well: a pumpkin gnocchi starter, roasted green beans with potatoes and bacon (because you can’t have too many carbs), and my zingy cranberry sauce with juniper & rosemary.

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Take that, tradition!

Gary Lowenthal

Gary Loewenthal, Grist reader, cofounder of Compassion for Animals and creator of the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale

This recipe for Tofurky Salad was devised by my friend and Compassion for Animals President Holly Sternberg. It’s delicious. Why is it renegade? It’s vegan. It uses Tofurky, but not in the usual way. You can have it as a salad during Thanksgiving dinner and a sandwich the next day. You’ve never had it, but you’d love it — try it.

It’s going to be one of my vegan outreach dishes at this year’s Thanksgiving dinner, which will feature a mix of family, friends, and people I’ve never met.

Sarah GoodyearOystersGo shuck yourself! Oysters this fresh don’t need any help.Photo: chrissam42Sarah Goodyear, Grist cities editor

My goal for this Thanksgiving: I don’t want to suffer.

That means that after a solid 10-year stretch of either hosting or co-hosting the big meal, I will be having pre-dinner drinks at home with friends and family, then eating out at a nice restaurant across the street from my house.

No sore fingers from peeling chestnuts. No burns on my wrists from wrestling the bird in and out of the oven. No dishpan hands!

That was the idea, anyway. But evidently I couldn’t stand the idea of eliminating the risk for Thanksgiving injury.

Because when I heard that an oyster farmer from Rhode Island was going to be delivering fresh-harvested mollusks to a location in downtown Manhattan, I immediately got interested. Oysters on the half-shell would be a perfect prelude to the meal out. The farmer — Jules Opton-Himmel of the Walrus and Carpenter Oysters — would sell me a shucking knife and glove and give me a personal lesson. So I ordered 60 of the suckers. I’ll be picking them up the day before Thanksgiving and hoping that I’m a quick study in the oyster-shucking department. Because I’m looking forward to all that briny goodness. But I don’t want it to hurt.

If you’re in the New York area, there might still be time for you to place an order with Walrus and Carpenter. Email him!

Wade FasanoWade Fasano, Grist art intern

I have never been a huge fan of turkey, and always had to deal with it during Thanksgiving unfortunately. Here are a few of the main dishes I’d prefer instead, along with where in the Seattle area you can get local ingredients for them: “Barbecued Whole Salmon, Stuffed” (Loki Fish can be found on Saturdays at the U. District farmers market, and Sundays at the Ballard one); “Emeril’s Atlanta’s Port Wine Glazed Roasted Duck” (duck can also be found at the markets, along with just about every other ingredient on the list); and for vegetarians, “Mushroom-stuffed artichokes” (I like to substitute chanterelles or porcinis; make sure you use a good bread).

Ashley BraunAshley Braun, Grist news producer

I’ve spent my past two Thanksgivings as the insecure, new vegetarian trying not to inconvenience the chefs in the omnivorous homes of my best friend and my boyfriend. That translates to my assuring them that, Yes! I’ll have plenty to eat, and No! Please don’t try to go out of your way just for me.

As satisfying as it was to scoop into the variety of side dishes, I’d still find myself staring wistfully at the meaty entrees. This year, my friends and I are gathering for a potluck Thanksgiving, placing the spatula of power squarely in my hand.

However, instead of going Tofurkey, I’ve taken a long, hard look at why I don’t eat meat anymore and opted to go whole hog in the other direction: I’m roasting my first organic, free-range heritage turkey from a local farm. This “Chocolate” breed turkey will be getting a sweet and savory rubdown with rosemary maple butter. I’m also debating bringing balsamic roasted carrots, adding a twist of
steamed kale to my family’s cheesy potato soup, or trying a slightly spicy bisque with apple and winter squash (I’ve got a Japanese kabocha). Last Christmas, though, I shook things up at the traditional family meal by rivaling the ham with my vegetarian black bean, squash, and chard chili. And to all of this, my secret trick is to simply toss in roasted parsnips; they add just the right amount of subtly sweet, nutty magic!

Eileen LambertEileen Lambert, Grist reader and environmental nonprofiteer (currently with EarthCorps)

I’m a diehard food & wine lover, earth-loving, local farmer/producer supporter kind of gal, with easily bored taste buds. I did some digging around for great recipe ideas, and I devised my dream “Thanksgiving Fresh Sheet” using recipes I found on These recipes were not only inventive in their ingredients, but were healthier, lighter fare (less butter, cream, and fats) using foods I’m mostly able to source locally. So not only will my mouth be satisfied, so will my tummy after it slips easily into my Black-Friday marked-down skinny jeans. Now if I could only find a wine pro to come up with a pairing for each course …

  • Main dish: Apple-Shallot Roasted Turkey — Using our local Northwest bounty of freshly harvested apples (including bagfuls from my roommate’s Prosser family’s orchards) this sweet-savory flavor juxtaposition will make this bird sing.
  • Sides: Pear, Prosciutto & Hazelnut Stuffing — Local pears would meld nicely with the nutty richness of hazelnut and prosciutto — well I simply adore the stuff — reason enough. Gingered Cranberry-Raspberry Relish — This burst of spicy, tart, sweetness sounds so enticing. I’d love to also serve this with crackers over a thin layer of soft cheese like Camembert. Savory Carrot & Tarragon Tart — My household recently acquired a large bag of organic carrots from Ballard Market that we’ve had the hardest time going through — this tart would use them up in a sophisticated tartly fashion, with leftovers for breakfast!
  • Dessert: Frozen Pumpkin Mousse Pie — Ever since my first taste of pumpkin mousse (and recently again in a crepe from Miro Tea in Ballard), I’ve been in absolute love with it — and while I love pumpkin pie, why not combine the best of both worlds in a lovely frosty treat?