Host a Malibu Farm-Style Thanksgiving

Host a Malibu Farm-Style Thanksgiving

Turkey. Sides. Togetherness. Thanksgiving is almost here and perhaps your menu-planning is already underway. But have you thought about the other aspects of hosting a Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving celebration? If not, don’t sweat it. We asked Malibu Farm chef and founder Helene Henderson for her top tips for hosting Thanksgiving, from food prep and décor to how to save time in the kitchen.

Helene Henderson of Malibu Farm
Helene Henderson at Malibu Farm in New York City

Helene, what does Thanksgiving mean to you? 

The holidays mean memories of the past and hope for the future. I love all fall/winter holiday decor: pumpkins, poinsettias, holiday trees, snow, the scent of cinnamon, pine and peppermint, mulled wine, hot chocolate. 

I like to prepare as much as possible the days before so that Thanksgiving morning I can go for a run or hike, maybe take a stroll at the beach, read the paper, drink coffee, and enjoy a quiet morning before the hustle, bustle and socialization of the day begins. 

On Thanksgiving Day, all I want to do is roast the prepared turkey and then bake or heat up the sides for our feast. Last year, most of Malibu had a power outage on Thanksgiving, which was stressful as we had several Thanksgiving meals to cook and deliver. Luckily, we were well prepared and managed by hooking up a generator to a stove to get it done. We were thankful to avoid the potential disaster of leaving all the families who had ordered our food without meals. 

Thanksgiving spread at Malibu Farm

What is the Malibu Farm take on the Thanksgiving spread?

Over-the-top color! I am all about pumpkin, squashes, sweet potatoes, pomegranates, persimmon, etc. Color, color, color on the plates. I love stuffing mini pumpkins with wild rice and quinoa, tossing green beans with roasted red bell peppers, or asparagus with roasted beets, burrata salad with arugula, pomegranates, persimmon and candied walnuts. Mushroom gravy is a must, along with cranberry relish. I also love cornbread stuffing—I’m all about the bountiful sides! 

Holiday dinner at Malibu Farm

What are your top tips for hosting a family-style Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving?

My top tip is to choose dishes that can be prepared a few days in advance with minimal last-minute prep. No stress: just time to be blessed with those we love best. 

What are your favorite Thanksgiving dishes to make? 

I am a traditionalist in my own way, although perhaps not everyone agrees that my Thanksgiving meal is traditional. Obviously, I need an overflowing basket of vegetables. My formula includes something creamy and dreamy, comforting and soft, such as a mashed potato. For Thanksgiving, I’m all about the sweet potato mash with pomegranate garnish. Then I need something crunchy, chewy, munchy, like a wild rice blend with quinoa and fresh herbs. Both these sides can be made the day before.

harvest dinner at Malibu Farm in the Seaport

Malibu Farm is known for its dishes that are both healthy and delicious. What are some easy ways people can create a Thanksgiving menu with that same balance?

If you love mashed potatoes, try by adding some finely chopped broccoli to make them green or a 50/50 blend of potato with cauliflower. If you love white rice, mix in some quinoa or lentils, and lots of herbs. I always start with something I like and add a healthy grain or vegetable component to it. 

Any holiday decorating tips?

There is no such a thing as too many pumpkins—big or small, orange or white, green or more. Pumpkin galore! How early can you get the Christmas tree up? As soon as it is for sale! Did you say poinsettias? Hmm, yes please.

holiday table decorated at Malibu Farm

You can check out some of Helene’s favorite Thanksgiving Recipes. 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.