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How to Host a New-Fashioned Thanksgiving

Add more color to classic Thanksgiving dishes with our expert-approved tips and tricks.

Colorful Thanksgiving Meal with Turkey, Sides, and Dessert

A few dishes are expected at Thanksgiving — mashed potatoes and stuffing have earned their place on the table — but what if this year you usher in a few unexpected turns? The most iconic meal of the year deserves its place on the brighter side of things, don’t you think? This year, host a new-fashioned Thanksgiving. Use these simple tips from our resident culinary expert, Allison Thomas, to fill your menu with color.

Add more produce.

Adding more vegetables to the dishes you’re already preparing will help make your meal brighter and prettier overall. Whipping up a creamy dip? Don’t just serve it with crackers. Create a colorful crudités platter with rainbow carrots, sliced watermelon radishes, Romanesco florets, sliced cucumbers and radicchio leaves.

Try it: Muhammara Spiced Red Pepper Dip

Go green.

Fresh herbs and greens make eye-catching garnishes, so play them up wherever you can. Sprinkle chopped parsley over stuffing or chopped chives over mashed potatoes for a quick burst of color and flavor. For more inspiration, look to your recipe’s ingredient list. “If you’re already using celery in your stuffing, save the leaves and use as a garnish before serving to add contrasting color,” suggests Thomas.

Dress up your turkey...

Think of your turkey’s serving platter as a blank canvas for a rainbow of edible garnishes. “Mixed citrus, like oranges and kumquats, with miniature pears, persimmons or cut halves of pomegranates are beautiful to tuck into the sides of the platter,” says Thomas.

...and the cranberry sauce, too.

“Dishes like cranberry sauce are already vibrant, but adding fresh orange or lemon zest adds even more color and bright flavor,” says Thomas. You can also sprinkle over chopped mint leaves for a splash of green and a cool burst of flavor.

Make a salad.

A produce-packed salad is a nice way to add brightness to your meal and break up heavier Thanksgiving foods. Start with an assortment of lettuces, like green romaine and red radicchio, then build your salad from there.

Try it: Beet Salad with Gorgonzola and Maple Dressing

Play with new ingredient combinations.

Add excitement to your meal by pairing unexpected flavors. Instead of pumpkin pie with vanilla ice cream, try crimson-colored berry gelato. If you’re roasting carrots, don’t just toss them with butter — serve them over a bed of Greek yogurt and drizzle with harissa, sesame seeds and coriander seeds.

Try a different kind of showpiece.

Give turkey the backseat — and make a meatless main the focal point of your table this year. Stuff acorn or butternut squash with an array of fillings like whole grains, dried cranberries, sweet potatoes, chopped apples, fresh herbs and more.

Try it: Harvest Stuffed Acorn Squash

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