This Thanksgiving Eat Your Veggies Then Have Dessert

November 20, 2019

Every year for Thanksgiving, I teach a very full and merrily hectic class called “Everything But The Turkey.” It’s the same menu every year. Naturally, I have a Brussels sprouts recipe for the holiday, but it turns out to be a favorite of students year round — as long as they can find fresh Brussels sprouts. Don’t skimp on olive oil or salt and be sure to cook them extra-long, until not just tender, but succulent, with crispy, browned outer leaves.

As for dessert: Your guests don’t want to look at their watches waiting for the right moment to make a polite exit so they can go home and sleep off the Thanksgiving culinary burden. Lighten up the load: add sunshine.

It’s a bit labor-intensive to use fresh pumpkin and squash but, honestly, how many times a year will you make this?

I recommend asking friends and family — and dudes with some muscle who are looking to feel useful — to join in for a few minutes of pumpkin cutting to make the process quick and fun. The crust, on the other hand, takes only minutes.


from “Meal and a Spiel: How to Be a Badass in the Kitchen”

1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts
3 vine-ripened tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 to 3 large shallots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 garlic cloves, halved
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Generous amount of freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Trim off the root ends of the Brussels sprouts and pull off any unappetizing yellowish leaves. Cut in half lengthwise.

Place the Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, shallots, garlic, and rosemary in a medium casserole dish or on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Drizzle with the olive oil. Sprinkle with the thyme and salt. Grind fresh pepper.

Use your fingers to mix and lick fingers to test seasoning. Adjust if needed.

Make sure the rosemary and garlic are evenly dispersed.

Bake for 45 to 60 minutes.

Serves 4.


filling adapted from “In Season” by Lisa Ravens

For the crust:
3 cups pecans
7 tablespoons butter or 4 tablespoons extra-virgin coconut oil, plus 1 for greasing pan
10-12 dates, pitted

For the filling:
1 small sugar pumpkin
1 small kabocha squash
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Zest of 1 orange
Juice of 1/2 orange
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 of a whole nutmeg, grated
1/4 to 1/3 cup raw unfiltered local honey
3 eggs

For the crust:
Place the pecans, butter or coconut oil and dates in a food processor and pulse into paste.
Use the remaining oil to amply grease a 9-inch pie pan.
Use your fingers to mash the paste into the pie pan to form the crust. Crust should be about a 1/4-inch thick, so there might be extra. (see note)

For the filling:
Preheat oven to 400 F.

Place the pumpkin and kabocha squash on the center rack and bake until very soft to the touch (a good hour).

Cut the squashes in half horizontally, remove the seeds with a fork and scoop out the soft flesh. A total of 3 cups is needed.

Add the flesh of pumpkin and squash to food processor and reduce to a purée.

Add lemon zest, lemon juice, orange zest, orange juice, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, honey and eggs. Pulse until well mixed.

Pour mixture into pie crust.

Bring oven 350 F.

Bake for 30 minutes.

Cover pie crust: Remove from oven and use foil to cover the crust that is showing to prevent it from burning. Place two large sheets of aluminum foil on top of each other like a plus sign, place pie pan on top and fold over until desired effect.

Bake for another 25 minutes or until firm to the touch.

Let cool to room temperature before serving. Can be made in advance.

Note: The pie can be baked in a 9-inch springform pan. Apply crust “dough” on bottom and sides of the oiled springform, pour in filling and bake. Let cool completely. Remove outer piece of springform but leave pie on the bottom disk. This pie is too fragile to remove (unless placed in the refrigerator overnight and then frozen for an hour, and you’re very careful while moving it). Put on a cake plate and serve.

Elana Horwich is the author of “Meal and a Spiel: How to Be a Badass in the Kitchen” and the founder of the Meal and a Spiel cooking school.

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