Helene Henderson’s Thanksgiving Recipes
Stuffing. Beans. Casseroles. Yes, the sides can be one of the best parts of Thanksgiving (with apologies to the turkey). If you’re cooking Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving meals this year and need a little menu-planning inspo, you’ve come to the right place. In addition to sharing her top Thanksgiving Hosting Tips with us, Malibu Farm chef and founder Helene Henderson has some delicious recipes for you to add to your holiday table.
Of course, if you’d prefer to leave the cooking (and the clean-up) to the pros, you can also dine at Malibu Farm on November 24. Take a peek at the restaurant’s a la carte Thanksgiving menu here.
RED & GREEN HOLIDAY BEANS
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the green beans, and blanch them for about 2 minutes. Remove them from the water and let them cool on a sheet pan. (Unless you are cooking large quantities of green beans, there is no need to drop them into ice water. The beans actually taste better when they are allowed to air-dry, rather than absorb more water by cooling in ice.) In a large bowl, lightly toss the beans with the olive oil and salt.
Season the cooked lentils with the lemon dressing and salt to taste, and add the chile pepper if using. Combine the lentils, roasted and marinated red bell pepper, and cherry tomatoes with the green beans. Garnish with the dill or other herbs of choice.
Serve at room temperature.
NOTE: Both the lentils (cooked and tossed in lemon dressing and salt) and the roasted and marinated red bell pepper can be made several days in advance.
Makes about 3/4 cups
The key here is fresh-squeezed juice, not bottled. How much oil will you use? This all depends on how much juice you have squeezed, but you want to have more juice than olive oil, which is why we call it “seriously” citrus dressing. Just whisk the citrus juice with the olive oil, stir in the garlic, and season with salt. Add chopped herbs if using. Voilà.
ROASTED & MARINATED RED BELL PEPPERS
Makes 2 peppers
There are several ways to roast your red bell peppers. If you have a gas stove, turn a burner on high, lay the peppers directly over the flame, and roast, turning them occasionally, until the skin is completely charred. If you do not have a gas stove, then you can put the peppers under the oven broiler or on a barbecue grill; turn them a few times until they are charred black on all sides.
Once the skin is charred, place the red peppers in a bowl and cover it with a plate or a pot lid (or, less ideally, plastic wrap). We just need the peppers to steam for a few minutes. Once they have steamed, peel off the charred skin and slice the peppers into strips. Place them in a bowl or other container.
In a small skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat, and cook the thin garlic slices until they just turn brown. Pour the garlic over the red bell pepper strips and season them lightly with salt. Add the balsamic vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. Use the marinated peppers right away or store in the fridge for up to 5 days.
THE GOOD STUFFING
Serves 4 to 6
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Place the corn bread cubes or chunks in a baking dish.
In a medium skillet over high heat, cook the corn in 1 tablespoon of the butter for about 2 minutes, until just beginning to soften. Remove the corn from the skillet and add it to the cornbread. Then, in the same skillet, cook the bell pepper, onion, and celery together until they are just beginning to soften, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to the baking dish. Last, cook the apples, using the remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Sauté the apples for about 5 minutes, until lightly browned. When they are done, transfer them to the baking dish as well.
Add the bacon, parsley, and cranberries to the cornbread mixture, and toss lightly without breaking the bread into a mess.
Bake for about 20 minutes. In the last 5 minutes of baking time, add some turkey or chicken drippings or broth if using.
NOTE: Go ahead and make your cornbread from scratch, but I am going to buy mine. If you want to make your own, however, bake it ahead of time and freeze it. Nothing but craziness is accomplished by doing too much on the same day, especially if that day is Thanksgiving. The stuffing will not be any better because the bread is fresh.
NOTE: Storing sliced bacon in the freezer allows you to julienne the very cold bacon into super-thin strips more easily than bacon at a refrigerated temperature. Just remove it from the freezer, wait a few minutes, and slice the amount you need. Return the remaining bacon to the freezer.
HOLIDAY HEALTHY GRAINS
Thinly slice the whole leek—yes, the dark green leaves too—into rings and discard the root end. (There is no reason to toss out half of the leek because it is darker. The dark part is still delicious; it just takes a little longer to cook and to soften. When you’re slicing, keep the light and dark parts separate.) Leeks can have soil deep inside them, so submerge the sliced leek in a bowl of cold water to wash it well. Dry on paper towels before cooking.
In a medium skillet, melt the butter over low heat. Add the darker parts of the sliced leek first and sauté for 3 minutes. Then add the rest of the leek (the white end), and cook for an additional 3 minutes, until all of the leek is soft, about 6 minutes total. Season with salt. In a large bowl, combine the leeks with the cranberries, almonds, parsley, wild rice and quinoa, and cooked butternut squash. Drizzle in the lemon dressing, and toss. Serve in the bowl or stuff into the mini pumpkins.
The stuffing can be made up to 2 days in advance.
NOTE: Cook quinoa and wild rice until at least 50 percent of the grain has “bloomed” (opened).
TIP: Use any grain, lentil, or bean combination that suits you. Use what you have and what you like. Cherry tomatoes, asparagus, and green beans are all delicious additions.
JACK BE LITTLE MINI PUMPKINS
Mini pumpkins are in every store, everywhere, around Halloween. They will last until the holidays, especially if you keep them in the fridge. Jack Be Little are the orange ones and Baby Boo the white ones, and obviously we will need some of both.
Roast the pumpkins in a preheated 375°F oven for 40 minutes or until they are just soft and you can pierce through them with a sharp knife. Remove them from the oven and allow them to cool. Then cut off the tops of the pumpkins and scoop out the seeds (see Tip).
The pumpkins can be prepared up to 2 days in advance and kept chilled.
To serve stuffed with Holiday Healthy Grains, heat the filled pumpkins in a 375°F oven for 20 minutes before serving.
TIP: Save the scooped-out pumpkin seeds, rinse them, and dry them. Then eat them or plant them.
CUBED ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH
Makes about 4 cups
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
In a bowl, toss the chopped squash with the olive oil. Spread the squash cubes out on a sheet pan and roast in the oven until they are just soft and a little browned but not mushy, 15 to 20 minutes. Season with salt, and drizzle with the agave and lemon juice.