5@5 - Reimagine Thanksgiving traditions
November 10th, 2011
05:00 PM ET
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5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

If you're stuffed to the waddle year after year with the usual Thanksgiving suspects, take one giant leap for turkey kind with self-proclaimed "Gastronaut" Nate Keller.

Keller is a former Google executive chef and current executive chef, alongside Mirit Cohen, of Gastronaut Catering in San Francisco.

Five Way to Reimagine Family Traditions for Thanksgiving: Nate Keller

1. Pumped up pumpkins
"Remember the vegetarians at your table. Stuffing a turkey seems to mark the grandness of the occasion. If you or your guests are vegetarian, or you simply want to have a beautiful and delicious centerpiece, consider stuffing a pumpkin or large winter squash to pay homage to tradition.

A stuffed pumpkin is a flavorful (and colorful) way to please both vegetarians and omnivores at your Thanksgiving feast. Pick one out at your local farmers market that is roughly 12-18 inches in diameter (or bigger, but makes sure the whole thing will fit in your oven)."

Stuffed Pumpkin
1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
2. Wash the pumpkin and rub it with olive oil.
3. Place the whole pumpkin (on a cookie sheet) in the oven and roast for about 20-25 minutes, or until you can just pierce the flesh with a knife.
4. Meanwhile, make your stuffing. You can use your favorite traditional stuffing recipe or the quinoa recipe below.
6. Remove the squash from oven, let cool and carve the top off, making a lid.
7. Use a spoon to scrape out the seeds. Season the inside with olive oil, salt and pepper.
8. Loosely pack the squash with the stuffing, and top with a little extra cheese. Do not replace lid.
9. Return to oven and roast for another 20-25 minutes or until squash is nicely browned on the outside, it can be pierced easily with a knife and the top is bubbly and brown.

2. Beans, beans they’re good for your...traditions!
"The grand story of Native Americans sharing local food traditions with the Pilgrim immigrants still resonates today, but often our Thanksgiving dishes awry from the traditional ones served by our ancestors.

Remember and honor this customary gift by serving a bean, chile or corn dish made with heirloom varieties (passed down over generations from America’s native ancestors)."

Good Mother Stallard Beans With Wild Mushrooms, Ham Hocks and Chard
1 cup heirloom Good Mother Stallard beans (can substitute navy beans)
4 cups chicken stock
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 ham hock
1 cup oyster mushrooms, cleaned and cut in half
1 bunch chard, cleaned, washed, and chopped
2 large sprigs parsley, chopped
2 sprigs thyme, chopped
1 spoonful mascarpone

1. Soak beans overnight in water in a 2-quart container (they will expand and double in size).
2. Heat medium pan over high heat and add olive oil.
3. Sauté onions until translucent.
4. Add the beans, 4 cups of the chicken stock and ham hock and bring to a boil.
5. Lower heat and cover to simmer until beans are thoroughly cooked. Pull out ham hock and take off meat.
6. Add meat back into beans and continue to simmer, add mushrooms and chard and cook until the chard is tender.
7. Stir in chopped parsley and thyme and serve hot, with mascarpone dollop on top.

3. Stuffed with stuffing: gluten-free is the way to be
"With infinite varieties of bread - sourdough, wheat, Dutch crunch and rye to name a few - choosing which loaf will yield the perfect stuffing (or dressing as some families may call it) becomes a breaded battle. Forget bread and gluten. This recipe for stuffing incorporates the ever-popular quinoa and lentils for a more health-conscious and equally delicious spin on stuffing."

Quinoa and Lentil Stuffing With Kale, Butternut Squash and sage
2 cups quinoa
2 cups lentils
1 ounce butter or olive oil
4 ounce white wine
4 quarts of gluten-free vegetable stock (can substitute water for low-sodium alternative)
1 bunch kale, cleaned, washed and chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 yellow onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 small butternut squash
1 bunch sage, chopped
2 ounces Humboldt Fog or a similar soft goat cheese
Salt and pepper

For the quinoa
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Cut off the top and bottom of the butternut squash then peel, using a strong peeler as the squash has very thick skin.
3. Cut in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and the soft innards.
4. Cut into one-inch cubes, toss in olive oil and salt and pepper and roast in oven on a sheet pan until soft and browned.
5. While squash is roasting, heat a small pot over high heat with half of the butter or olive oil.
6. When butter is hot, add the quinoa and toast over high heat - stirring constantly.
7. When the quinoa starts to brown very lightly, add the vegetable stock and season with salt and pepper.
8. When stock comes to a boil, turn down to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Quinoa should be cooked and there should be little to no liquid left. Set aside.

For the lentils
1. Add 2 cups of lentils to a small pan and add 4.5 cups of vegetable stock and bring to a boil over high heat.
2. When stock boils, turn down heat and simmer covered for 15 minutes checking and stirring every 5 minutes so lentils don’t burn.
3. When lentils are tender, season with salt and pepper and set aside.
4. In a large sauté pan over high heat, melt the remaining butter and a little olive oil and sauté onions until translucent. Make sure to season each item individually at each step.
5. Add kale and sauté until kale is wilted.
6. Add garlic and sauté for about 20 seconds and add the white wine.
7. Cook kale until it’s tender. Set aside.
8. When all items are cooked, toss together in a large bowl with a little stock and butter, add the sage and season. Top with Humboldt Fog cheese and bake until the cheese is melted.

4. Roll up a fiesta with turkey
"Give your Turkey Day a festive Mexican twist. It is easy: Heat turkey in the gravy. Reheat mashed potatoes and stuffing. Take a hot flour tortilla and add a layer of mashed potatoes, followed by a layer of stuffing, hot turkey and garnish the top with Monterey jack or cheddar cheese. Put your rolling skills to the test and pop out a Thanksgiving burrito. Dip in cranberry sauce or serve on top 'burrito mojado' style."

5. Turkey soup for the post-Thanksgiving soul
"Got leftovers including a huge turkey carcass taking up valuable space in your refrigerator? You have sent everyone home with overflowing Tupperware containers, you have had turkey sandwiches and slices of pie until you can’t see straight and yet the thought of composting your epic Thanksgiving feast brings tears to your eyes. Well, we can sympathize with you, and have an answer - soup!"

For the stock:
1 turkey carcass stripped of all meat possible
4 medium onions cut into quarters
2 carrots cut into 1-inch pieces
2 celery ribs cut into 1-inch pieces
2 bay leaves
8 quarts of cold water
Salt and pepper

1. Combine all ingredients except the salt and pepper into a large stock pot and place over high heat.
2. Once a boil is reached, reduce the heat to a simmer and skim the surface periodically of all impurities that form.
3. After 2 1/2 to 3-hours, you should have a flavorful turkey stock. Strain through a mesh strainer and discard all solids.
4. Season to taste with salt and pepper and let cool.
5. Once the stock has cooled enough, a layer of fat will form at the surface that should be removed.

For the soup:
6 to 8 quarts of turkey stock
All of the scraped turkey meat and bits that were picked from the carcass
1 medium onion
1 cup carrots
1 cup of diced celery
1 cup of diced squash
1 cup of diced zucchini
1 cup of sliced mushrooms of your choice
1-2 tablespoons of fresh herbs (your choice)
1 cup of white wine
4 slices of thick cut bacon, extra virgin olive oil or vegetable oil
Salt and pepper

1. Cook the 4 slices in your stock pot over medium heat to render all of the fat. Remove the bacon from the pot and discard or keep for later.
2. Using the bacon fat or your choice of oil, sauté the onions, carrots and celery in a large pot over medium heat until the onions are translucent.
3. Add the squash, zucchini and mushrooms and sauté for 2 minutes before adding the fresh herbs and white wine.
4. Once the wine has reduced by half, add the turkey stock and meat and bring to a light simmer.
5. Cook until the vegetables are soft, season with salt and pepper and you are pleased with the flavor.
6. Serve immediately or save for later.

Is there someone you'd like to see in the hot seat? Let us know in the comments below and if we agree, we'll do our best to chase 'em down.

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Filed under: 5@5 • Holiday • HolidayShopping • Recipes • Thanksgiving • Thanksgiving • Think

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soundoff (48 Responses)
  1. Jeff

    I grew tired of green bean casserole, and a few years ago I changed it up by substituting asparagus and cream of asparagus soup for the beans and cream of mushroom soup. Everyone loved it, and it's the only way I do it now!!

    November 21, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
  2. jillmarie

    I love the stuffed pumpkin idea! I agree, it's a wonderful centerpiece/main dish for us vegetarians. I might use a smaller squash because I tend to be the only veg, thanks for the idea. It's very season appropriate and festive.

    November 12, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
  3. Jimi

    What an awful recipe

    November 11, 2011 at 7:06 pm |
    • AleeD From Home Sweet Home@Jimi

      Geez Hendrix. Who p33d in your corn flakes?

      November 12, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
  4. self absorbed elitist@BOB

    There is only one "m" in "coming"
    "jist" should be "gist"

    This isn't elitist, it's English.

    November 11, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
  5. Amy

    I love the unique T-day twists! We're hosting our second Thanksgiving for friends – rather than spending it with our families who are far away, etc... Only this time I'm doing a deconstructed T-day menu: no turkey, rather turkey strudel in phyllo dough; no butternut squash, instead butternut squash/apple soup; mashed potatoes are being replaced by potato croquettes; and brussels sprouts are being done via brussels sprout, pancetta, flabread pizza... I'll be blogging all about it at http://wickedgoodtravel.com.

    November 11, 2011 at 8:41 am |
    • Jimi

      Don't bother – no-one will read it and even fewer people will enjoy the monstrosity for which you are so proud of yourself

      November 11, 2011 at 7:08 pm |
      • Mikey

        Thanks for the ideas, Amy. I go traditional but like your style!

        Jimi, you need to get your twisted, bitter little soul out of your parent's basement once in a while, mmkay?

        November 12, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
      • AleeD From Home Sweet Home

        Jimi, put a c0ck, I mean sock in it.
        Mikey, well said. Thank you!

        November 12, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
  6. Jerv

    Great 5@5! Love the 'burrito mojado' style" idea and I will be doing your turkey soup recipe as well. Thanks!

    November 11, 2011 at 7:30 am |
  7. Edwin

    Why are so many people here hostile towards vegetarians? I would think people who enjoy recipes would tend to be tolerant, or at least polite, towards others who like cooking.

    So... you prefer to eat meat. Big deal. I eat meat, too - I enjoy it a lot. I plan on having turkey. BUT - if I had a vegetarian friend coming to Thanksgiving at my house, I'd make darn sure they had some options. Part of being a good host is considering your guest's needs. Honestly, if you can't or won't do that, you shouldn't invite people over to eat!

    November 11, 2011 at 3:06 am |
    • James

      Well said, Edwin!

      November 11, 2011 at 8:12 am |
    • Happy Omnivore

      You have to have been here a while to understand the baggage people are carrying. There have been some holier-than-thou vegetarians, vegans and meat-eaters trading mean-spirited barbs with each other on all levels. It's nothing personal – unless you make it that way.

      November 11, 2011 at 8:18 am |
    • dnfromge

      Thanks for being the voice of reason! I agree, as a hostess, I always ensure my guests have options, whether it's vegetarian, a food allergy or anything else I am aware of. It's the right thing to do! My daughter has a couple of friends who are from India and are vegetarians. I always accommodate their needs when they are in my home.

      November 11, 2011 at 11:14 am |
  8. Mike S

    I take it that's a sugar pumpkin for the stuffed pumpkin, not a jack-o'lantern type pumpkin?

    November 11, 2011 at 1:08 am |
  9. Fred S.

    No Bush, No O'Bam, No Israel. Yaaayyyy!

    November 11, 2011 at 1:01 am |
    • Jesus Is Lord

      The Jews are God's chosen people and Israel is their PROMISED land. Mess with Israel – mess with God!

      November 11, 2011 at 6:45 am |
  10. Action Jackson

    Deep fried turkey, biotch!

    November 11, 2011 at 12:52 am |
  11. Leonore H. Dvorkin

    Why make anything special at all? Just eat what you normally eat and make it a normal Thursday, without all the fuss and bother.

    November 11, 2011 at 12:15 am |
    • Edwin

      With a family together, it doesn't matter what's on the menu...

      November 11, 2011 at 2:48 am |
  12. Kevster77

    great recipes man!!!! beanzzzz yummmm

    November 10, 2011 at 11:22 pm |
  13. Perry

    Great to see some vegetarian/vegan alternatives! Thanksgiving to my family and I has always been just that – giving thanks for each other and for healthful, wholesome food that doesn't involve animals suffering for the sake of an arrogant and ignorant palate. I'll try that stuffed pumpkin idea for sure!

    November 10, 2011 at 11:05 pm |
    • BOB

      Ah nothing like a an arrogant and ignorant vegetarian........... Obviously you occupy a position of moral authority by which to tell every one else how to live....

      November 10, 2011 at 11:08 pm |
      • Perry

        Well, as a physician, I've been advocating a vegetarian diet for decades – evidence continues to pour in on the health benefits of minimizing or avoiding animal products. Cheers Bob!

        November 10, 2011 at 11:12 pm |
      • Jakey

        Vegetarianism doesn't work if you want to be strong or save money. You cannot get all your amino acids from veggies...it's expensive and almost impossible....How about just avoiding eating out because everything is full of MSG and preservatives in every restaurant and supermarket.

        November 11, 2011 at 12:39 am |
      • Happy Omnivore@Perry

        Making the statement, "...food that doesn't involve animals suffering for the sake of an arrogant and ignorant palate..." doesn't track with your image of being a helpful advocate / physician. You sound like an intolerant, arrogant PETA member. Have an ice day.

        November 11, 2011 at 8:25 am |
      • lance

        jakey – spend 3 seconds researching where protein comes from and you'll understand its everywhere in all foods... vegetarianism is easy and cheap.

        happy omnivore – so its wrong to defend animal rights ? a person can't advocate eating more healthy and have their own personal beliefs on animal rights at the same time? good grief, what a world....

        November 11, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
      • Happy Omnivore@lance

        Wow. Way to take a comment out of context and twist it all the frak around, lanceroni. Read it in context with the rest of Perry's posts. Advocating with an at!tude is uncalled for. That's what my comment was about.

        November 11, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
  14. Soniva


    November 10, 2011 at 11:01 pm |
    • Zoniva


      November 11, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
      • Goniva


        November 11, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
  15. Martini

    After 43 years of cooking those damn turkeys I'm done with them! Hate the smell of turkey and tired of the taste. I roast a good size chicken and relish the experience now. I still keep all the other traditional Thanksgiving side dishes and everyone's happy.

    November 10, 2011 at 11:00 pm |
    • dnfromge

      I'm done with turkey too – I have always disliked it and this is the first year I am not cooking one!!!

      November 11, 2011 at 11:10 am |
    • cubs44

      try a tofurky!!!!

      November 11, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
  16. Capercorn

    I will take any excuse to get more beans on the table.

    I love me some beans.

    November 10, 2011 at 10:57 pm |
  17. BOB

    Typical self stroking condescending yuppy spew. Personally I prefer stuffing turkey with a mixture of bacon and vegan ground into a fine pat'e.......

    November 10, 2011 at 10:55 pm |
    • Edwin

      So... I take it you reject anything out of your comfort zone? I found the article interesting, and the food options nice. I probably won't use the recipes, but I appreciate the different take on Thanksgiving.

      As an aside, if you didn't want to consider new menu choices, why did you actually choose to read the article? The title is pretty explanatory of the contents.

      November 11, 2011 at 2:57 am |
      • BOB

        I have no problem with trying new things or looking at different perspectives. However, I do have a problem with a self absorbed elitist perspective coming in and essentially telling me that I should do things their way. Although I am rather politically liberal there is nothing that annoys me more the these smarter than thou types who have no idea of others perspectives or preferences comming in and telling me or anyone else how to live. Just so that you get the jist it would be akin to me walking into some vegan food coop and saying "hey everyone you should try bacon, its packed full or nutrients and you will be more fashionable and morally superior if you eat it......"

        November 11, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
  18. thomas

    What a load of crap. Don't go to Thanksgiving dinner if your a vegan or macrobiotic or what ever. And Keller I will remember the vegetarians. I'll remember THEY ARE NOT INVITED! The last thing I need when I start cooking at 6am is "remembering the vegetarians". They can go suck an eggplant.

    November 10, 2011 at 10:54 pm |
    • Edwin

      Wow. Why so hostile? Did you have a really bad day or something, or do you just see vegetarians as a threat to your way of life?

      November 11, 2011 at 3:00 am |
  19. frank

    what pretentious foodie BS lol, "eatocrazy" is horrible

    November 10, 2011 at 10:51 pm |
  20. Take your fetish elsewhere

    Vegans can either eat what's put before them, go hungry, or go elsewhere.

    November 10, 2011 at 10:48 pm |
  21. Amy

    The turkey roll up looks like a good lunch box idea instead of the typical turkey sandwich. I love lunch box ideas. And the vegans in the family will like the pumpkin. In fact, I can probably make all of this to go with the staples for all the family member. Thanks.

    November 10, 2011 at 10:45 pm |
  22. hemo

    thanks, i will not be using any of these

    November 10, 2011 at 9:51 pm |
    • Dschrepfer

      @hemo... I had a complete belly laugh at your comment. Still laughing!

      November 11, 2011 at 12:53 am |
  23. S

    Try doing what I did one year – serve leg of lamb instead of turkey!

    November 10, 2011 at 9:49 pm |
  24. FauxNewz

    Thanks for the recipes, especially the soup recipe which will make the Turkey go farther this year.

    November 10, 2011 at 9:33 pm |
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