October is one of the most abundant times of year at your neighbourhood farmers’ market. It’s a wonderful time to cook for friends and family and come together around a shared table. With Thanksgiving less than a week away, what better time to share a round up of some of our favourite dishes to inspire your celebrations! All the goodness below can be sourced from our Farmers’ Markets of Nova Scotia member farmers’ markets.
The Main Course
There are so many delicious dishes that make up a Thanksgiving dinner. Here are the essentials according to Alicia, our Administrative & Communications Coordinator.
Roasted and mashed, sliced and baked, or stuffed, squash is synonymous with the harvest, and Thanksgiving! Stuffed squash can be a good option for vegetarian and vegan guests. Make sure to include a protein rich stuffing ingredient like nuts, tofu or quinoa.
Tip: Get familiar with all the different varieties available. Does your grandpa like a dry squash? Ask your farmer for the best variety suited to your preferences. Don’t be afraid to try more than one type at dinner, you may introduce your family and friends to a whole new side of this vegetable!
It’s not turkey dinner without the cranberries, and if they come from a can, you might as well call the whole thing off. Look for local cranberries at your farmers’ market, they are in season this time of year! This recipe includes white wine. I think this would be lovely with a splash of Nova Scotian Tidal Bay.
Tip: Want to add a bit more zing to your sauce? Try this recipe that calls for rum!
Creamy mashed potatoes are a must at Thanksgiving dinner, they act as a vehicle for the gravy!
Tip: Roasted garlic will give your potato dish a beautiful complexity. Try adding black garlic if you can get your hands on it (and give us your review)!
For a change from the standard boiled carrot side dish, try roasted carrots with garlic or maple glazed carrots. Roasting the carrots brings out their sweetness, and the glaze caramelizes a bit. So delicious!
Tip: Watch for bunches of rainbow carrots (yellow, orange and purple); kids and adults are guaranteed to love them!
This may not be the lightest dish, but ‘special turnip’ is my family’s favourite.
Tip: Substitute maple syrup or honey for the sugar. Make this dish dairy or gluten-free by substituting coconut oil/vegan butter or gluten-free flour.
My family calls it dressing, not stuffing, and it is served alongside the turkey, not cooked inside, and since we are good Maritimers it of course features lots of summer savoury. Here is an updated recipe featuring sausages, apples, dried cranberries, fresh herbs and bread.
Tip: I recommend using sourdough bread and an unexpected sausage flavour or meat (try lamb!) for a modern take on this well loved side dish.
La pièce de résistance, the centre of the Thanksgiving meal. Here’s a simple recipe to get it just right.
Tip: Thaw your turkey in advance, you don’t want to end up like Dave. If you haven’t already purchased your turkey, it may be a good idea to contact a meat vendor at your nearest farmers’ market to reserve one for pick up later this week.
Dessert (and more dessert!)
As much as Thanksgiving is about turkey, it is also all about pie, and there has got to be at least two kinds to choose from. The crust of course is key – try this recipe for success.
Tip: I recommend heading to the vendor selling apples at your local Nova Scotian Farmer’s market, and asking them which varieties they would recommend for baking. Some apples hold up better when baked, and a more tart apple will pair well with the sugar and cinnamon in the pie filling. A lovely lattice top will elevate your pie to Instagram-worthy status.
For a traditional pumpkin pie, try this recipe. Want to mix it up? Try this updated take on pumpkin pie, created by Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market vendor The Cake Lady for Nova Scotia Cookery, Then & Now.
Tip: Don’t make your pumpkin pie from any old jack’o lantern. Ask for sugar pie pumpkin for a delicious, smooth pie filling.
Make your pie game a hat trick with a true Nova Scotian favourite. Try this recipe using wild blueberries.
Tip: As an alternative to pie, wild blueberry sauce served over ice cream may be a welcome alternative to pie for kids or those with gluten-intolerance.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention these hardworking sides: gravy (save the potato water and make your own from scratch – I still haven’t lived down the year I poured it all down the drain), pickles (dill beans are the family favourite, my cousins usually clean out the cut glass dish before it makes it to the table), and rolls (brown bread with butter are the best with white a close second).
You’ll find a selection of pickles and breads are available from talented farmers’ market vendors across the province, along with all other key ingredients mentioned above. Find your closest market using our farmers’ market directory, and stock up on all the bounty you’ll need for a delicious feast! Happy Thanksgiving!