I will pull up a chair to a bowl of dip. I will flat-out embarrass myself. I just love it—all kinds, really. I once had a dip party, where we played board games and everyone brought a dip and dippers, and now I’m wondering why that was just a one-time thing. Anyway, although I love all kinds of dips (salsa! French onion! hummus! guac! spinach-artichoke!), I especially love one that’s warm, gooey, and cheesy. Here’s a dip that hits all those notes, and it incorporates chicken for heartiness and corn for that special crisp-sweet goodness. If you happen to end up with any left over, it makes a pretty great filling for jalapeño poppers—maybe sprinkled with a little bacon. Just sayin’.
A big pot of chili just screams comfort and goodness. But you don’t always have hours to devote to one, y’know? This chicken chili, with a broth that’s both, well, brothy and slightly creamy, takes only a little more than a half-hour to make. It’s deeply savory and full of flavor, thanks to a few well chosen ingredients. The broth gets its body from pureed beans (it’s not thickened with flour), so it’s gluten free. You’ll be happy you made it whether it’s a cold, damp night or a warm evening—it’s an all-weather chili!
Everyone needs a good recipe for great ranch dressing, right? This one is easy, fresh, and packed with flavor. It’s really good served very cold—either draped over crisp greens or as a dip for veggies. My current favorite way to have it is shown above: a simple iceberg (yes!) salad with sliced grape tomatoes and bacon. Simple can be so good.
Every Thanksgiving table should include a big, fresh salad. With all the rich casseroles, gravy, and savory (and sometimes surprisingly sweet) sides, something fresh is a necessity. Whenever I bust up a big salad into the Turkey Day mix, I’m often met with jokes and gentle ribbing. But you know what? My salad always gets eaten. Every freaking leaf. This is a great one for Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving because it can easily accommodate dietary needs and restrictions: It’s vegan and gluten-free, and if someone has a nut allergy, you can easily omit the pecans.
The first step for this salad is to make a batch of pickled onions. I have you make double what you need for the salad—because why not go ahead and use a whole onions?
The leftover pickled onions will hold up well in the fridge for a couple of weeks, and you can use them on tacos, other salads, grain bowls, and more. My easy two-ingredient method relies on two products from the Asian foods aisle: mirin and rice vinegar. These guys:
You can find rice vinegar at any supermarket and mirin at most (I got mine at Target). The mirin is seasoned with salt and sugar plus has a pleasant, light wine flavor—so it takes the place of wine, salt, and sugar. The rice vinegar is softer than many other vinegars, which could make the pickled onions sharp and wince-inducing.
I love lacinato kale for its bumpy texture and earthy and faintly sweet flavor. If you can’t find it, you can use regular curly kale—just know that it’s a little tougher. No matter which you use, do take a minute or two to massage the leaves with a little oil first, to help break down the fibers and tenderize the leaves.
As for the pears, as I mentioned above, I lucked into some gorgeous Seckel pears at the Publix down the road. They come in a bag, like this:
And they’re smaller than most pears. See?
Now for the pomegranates. Look, I know that the arils you can buy in the little cups are very convenient. I’ve used them myself on more than one occasion. But they just don’t taste as good as ones you pull fresh from the whole fruit. I learned a trick that makes that process a little easier. First, cut about 1/4-inch off the top of the fruit, like so:
One you take the “lid” off, you can see where the paper-thin membranes are. It’s a little tricky to see in the photo above, but look for the spoke-like thin white membranes that grow out from the core. You want to score the outer skin of the pomegranate where those membranes run, from the top to the bottom of the fruit, like this:
Once the skin is scored, you can pull apart the fruit. It will break along those “fault lines” like so—
Now you can just gently prod those arils out without having to pick through all the pith and membrane. I swear it’s worth the effort (and there’s not much effort to it).
This salad will fill a big ol’ bowl (meaning it makes a lot). But I predict it will all get happily eaten, with thanksgiving.
OK, so maybe you’re not sold yet on this idea. Let me try to get you there… Have you ever bought some beautiful salmon fillets, anticipating that oily, silky, fatty-in-all-the-good-ways texture, only to overcook the fish (even slightly) so that the texture falls flat? Yeah, that won’t happen with this slow-roasting method. It cooks the fish ever so gently so that it never loses that buttery silkiness you crave.
This recipe is pretty simple—not too much technique to explain. The hardest part is maybe sectioning the orange?? But even that isn’t hard. Just cut away all the peel and pith, and then cut between the membranes to extract the sections. Like this:
After you’ve removed all the sections, don’t toss the membranes just yet. Hold on to these guys—
And squeeze them over the fillets in the baking dish, like so:
Then bake for a short 20ish minutes, and you’ll be delighted by the results. No. More. Overcooked. Salmon. I mean, just look at this texture!