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Help me plan my non-turkey Thanksgiving dinner, please?

So Canadian Thanksgiving dinner is less than 2 weeks away and I've been too busy to plan my dinner -- eek! Dinner will be on Sunday and there will be 8 adults and 2 kids. I'm going non-traditional this year, partly due to time constraints and partly due to the fact that I'll do a big turkey dinner for U.S. Thanksgiving next month.

So all I know at this point is that I'll be making one of my old standby recipes for a a roasted beef tenderloin:

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

It's easy, the sauce is wonderful and it's always a crowd pleaser.

Honestly, I'm so busy and so tired right now that I simply am drawing a blank as to the rest of the menu. I would love some suggestion for first courses, side dishes and desserts that would complement the main course. I can peruse some of the numerous appetizer threads for before-dinner nibbles, but suggestions are more than welcome.

I have someone with a nut allergy, so other than no nuts, there are no restrictions.

Thanks 'hounds... I swear I'm normally more organized than this!

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  1. When I saw the subject of this thread I immediately thought "I'll tell em to go to Costco and get one of those beautiful beef tenderloins and roast it!
    I think some roasted potatoes are a must. It sounds so simple but that can be so elegant! Seen some beautiful fingerlings at the farmer's market and those roasted up with crispy salty skins and twigs of thyme and rosemary strewn between them would be a beautiful compliment!

    If I was serving beef tenderloin, I'd want the first course to be a salad of mixed mushrooms with a light vinaigrette. But that can get pricey. Maybe a beet salad? Definitely something light bright and fresh tasting.

    1. If I were making the dinner, I'd serve a potato or sweet potato gratin dish. Ina garten makes a killer potato dauphanoise recipe on the food network website. Either would different from the standard roasted or mashed potato and pairs well with the meat as would a parsnip puree.

      For the first course, I love butternut squash bisque; it's light, delicious and can be made a day ahead then warmed up prior to serving. Also, I've become attached to arugula this summer since I grew it for the first time. I've planted a fall crop just so I can use it for my Thanksgiving meal with roasted pears, thinly sliced sweet onion, toasted pecans or walnuts & maybe a feta vinaigrette, which I'll make.

      Sides could be roasted root vegetables, carrots, broccoli & cauliflower etc. Dessert IMO, should be something lite & citrusy like a souffle or curd with cookies or in a meringue.

      1. i might serve a nice shaved fennel salad with some grapefruit segments, celery, and olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, dill, S & P. (i would say toasted almonds, but no nuts... not even soy nuts?)

        perhaps if you want to go more elegant, a sweet potato or butternut squash gnocchi on the side, or as otherwise suggested above, a gratin.

        grilled asparagus with a lemon glaze and or a caramelized onion and roasted garlic cauliflower puree.

        dessert? clafoutis! :-0

        happy CT (canadian thanksgiving)!

        7 Replies
        1. re: Emme

          I *love* the idea of the sweet potato gnocchi! Alas, I've never made my own and don't think I want to use this occasion to do a test run. But I'm putting that into my "make it for ourselves" list soon to try it out.

          Do you have a recipe that you like?

          1. re: TorontoJo

            I'm interested in a good recipe too!

            1. re: TorontoJo

              I made sweet potato gnocchi for a side to our Easter lamb. It had a brown butter sage sauce with a pinch of cinnamon in the butter. I can't remember which recipe it was but since my mother picked it out I would guess it probably came from a FN chef, check with Ina and Giada. We did our trial run for Easter dinner and it was very easy. I bet you could make ahead and freeze. iwould recommend this over store bought which are usually kind of hard.

              1. re: TorontoJo

                maybe this is the recipe melpy references http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/gi...

                for me...

                i nuke a couple of big sweet potatoes in the micro til tender (maybe 2 pounds?). drain a container (12 oz) of ricotta. mix it with parmesan (1 cup or so), mashed sweet potato, salt, pepper, a little nutmeg or cinnamon, then start with about 2 cups of flour and keep adding til dough is smooth and rollable. let rest for a few. roll into ropes and cut in pieces, then roll over the tines of a fork. simmer in boiling salted water for about 5-6 minutes til they float. drain and reserve. brown some butter in a pan, add sage and let get wilted moving toward crispy. reserve some butter sauce. then dust drained gnocchi with cornmeal or rice flour or all-purpose flour. saute in the butter sauce. serve with extra sauce. simple simple. can even make ahead up through the boiling. then reheat by sauteing.

                1. re: Emme

                  Thank you for your recipe! Have you ever made them ahead and frozen them?

                  1. re: TorontoJo

                    no but it should work just fine...

                  2. re: Emme

                    I think this is the one! Thanks Emme for helping :)

              2. Thanks for the replies! They've definitely given me some great ideas. So here's what I'm thinking so far:

                1st course: soup of some sort (I'm testing out a roasted cauliflower soup tonight that may be a candidate) or a fennel salad (I have a wonderful roasted fennel salad that a fellow 'hound made that I have been looking to replicate)

                Main: roasted beef tenderloin
                Sides:
                - potato and shiitake mushroom gratin -- http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...
                - veggie(s) are still undecided, but I think I want something lighter than root veggies because the roast beef and gratin are so substantial. Maybe a green bean prep of some sort (maybe roasted and tossed with garlic and lemon juice?) or the asparagus prep suggested by emme.

                I've solved the dessert course by asking my sister-in-law to bring one of the many apple crumbles she's been making from the apple trees in her back yard. Yay!

                8 Replies
                1. re: TorontoJo

                  I hate to change up your plan, but the other night I made something that would go beautifully and maybe be a bit lighter than a gratin. I cubed and roasted a butternut squash. While it was roasting, I sauteed sliced mushrooms and onions, then seasoned them with salt, pepper and fresh time. When the squash was done, I mixed the mushrooms in, sprinkled with gorgonzola, and returned to the oven to melt the cheese a tad. I served it with a drizzle of balsamic reduction. The flavor was unreal, and would go so nicely with your beef. You could do it all ahead, and skip the balsamic reduction by adding some to the mushrooms.

                  For other sides, I love glazed shallots, or balsamic-glazed brussels sprouts.

                  1. re: katecm

                    This sounds wonderful, Kate. I would be happy with it and dessert.

                  2. re: TorontoJo

                    roasted green beans with hazelnut brown butter; roasted carrots with orange zest and ginger; asparagus with crispy pancetta and browned breadcrumbs, a little citrus zest.....
                    yorkshire puddings?

                    1. re: TorontoJo

                      i have a great cauliflower soup that's so simple if yours doesn't go as well as hoped... but hope it does!

                      1. re: Emme

                        Thanks, Emme! The caulflower soup turned out great and is officially going into my dinner party rotation -- super simple, but really good. I roasted a couple of heads of cauliflower, some shallots and a few cloves of garlic the usual way (toss with olive oil and pepper, but skip the salt, roasted at 450 until golden), tossed it into my vita mix blender with some chicken stock, pureed until super smooth, then transferred a pot and added more stock until I got the consistency I wanted. Garnished with some bacon and chives. Really yummy! The vita mix gets such a smooth mouthfeel that it seems like I've added cream and the bacon gives the soup some texture.

                        1. re: TorontoJo

                          glad it turned out! i do something similar, but use veggie broth, and lots of caramelized onions and roasted garlic. sometimes i serve it floating with roasted broccoli florets or as a side dish to dip my salmon croquette tartlettes in...

                      2. re: TorontoJo

                        Not sure if you've made that potato & shiitake gratin recipe before. I made it for Christmas last year, as a side to my roasted duck. I cut down considerably on the amount of parmesan, though. Also used half & half and milk rather than half & half and whipping cream. Turned out great.

                        1. re: phoenikia

                          I have made it and yes, made similar adjustments! I actually used some evaporated skim milk in place of the cream and cut back on the amount of liquid in general. It's really good!

                      3. Roasted green beans sound great. I'd probably add tomatoes, if you can still get them up in the arctic north.