autumn fall harvest food cornucopia

Thanksgiving Feast

Thanksgiving Holiday is only a week away, what’s on your menu for the evening? Turkey and pumpkin pie are classics that can be hard to get away from, so flex your kitchen creativity with the evening’s side dishes. Here are a few accompaniments that think outside the box, but still capture the flavours of the seasonal harvest.

And for those vegetarians and vegans out there, try out the vegan turkey and gravy recipe!

Before you get started, here are a few general tips that will add a professional touch to your dishes:

  • Add dried herbs at the beginning of the cooking process. The longer cooking time will help release their full flavours. By comparison, if you are using fresh herbs, add them at the end to avoid overcooking, which can make them taste bitter.
  • Add salt at the very end, rather than throughout the cooking process to avoid over-salting, and to let the true flavours of your food shine through. You can always add salt to a dish, you cannot take it out! That said, don’t forget to add the salt during your final tasting – it is often the ‘finishing’ touch that completes the dish.
  • Always remember to taste your food before serving! This is your last chance to fix any errors before it ends up in your guests’ mouths.
  • Expert apple pie bakers will often tell you the secret is to use three kinds of apples. Apply this baking tip to your savoury cooking as well! When a recipe calls for onions, use a mix of shallots, leeks and onions. If the recipe calls for beans, use three kinds of beans. Use what you have on hand rather than making additional trips to the store.

Garlic Scalloped Potatos


  • 1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 4 slices provolone cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese


  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a large casserole dish with butter or nonstick spray.
  2. Layer half of the potato slices in the bottom of the casserole dish. Dot with half of the butter cut or pinched into small pieces. Arrange half of the garlic slices over the potatoes, then pour half of the heavy cream over. Sprinkle one cup of Cheddar cheese over the layer, and season with salt and pepper. Repeat layering of potatoes, garlic, cream and Cheddar cheese, then top with the slices of provolone cheese. Season again with salt and pepper.
  3. Bake for 1/2 hour uncovered, then sprinkle Parmesan or Romano cheese (whichever you chose) on top. This will create a semi-hard cheese crust. Continue baking uncovered for another 30 minutes, or until potatoes are tender when tested with a fork.

Brie and Onion Tarts


Quantities as desired!

  • Brie
  • Onions
  • Butter or oil
  • Phyllo Pastry


  1. Pre-heat oven according to package directions on Phyllo Pastry.
  2. Line mini-muffin tins with 3 layers of 3×3 inch squares of Phyllo Pastry to create the tart shell.
  3. Finely slice onions, sautee on medium heat in butter or oil until golden
  4. Cut Brie into smallish pieces that fit into the prepared tart shells.
  5. Place one piece of Brie into each tart shell, top with caramelized onions.
  6. Bake until Brie is bubbly and the Phyllo is nicely browned.

Tips: Make extra! These go FAST. Tarts can be topped with any chutney or fruity sauce you like that matches with cheese. Try it with the cranberry sauce shared below.

Roasted Cauliflower

This one is a definite winner for all seasons and any time you want to show off mad kitchen skills!


  • 1 head Cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1 small onion, sliced finely
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 1 lemon juiced (cut the leftover lemon into pieces)
  • 1-2 tbsp of Dijon mustard (or any mustard you have)
  • Sriracha or hot sauce (optional) – to taste
  • Olive Oil or butter
  • Fines Herbes (or equal parts parsley, tarragon, chives)
  • Salt and Pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Toss all ingredients (including lemon pieces) in a large baking pan until the cauliflower florets are well coated. If using butter, melt the butter with the herbs before combining.
  3. Roast, stirring every 10 – 15 minutes until the cauliflower gets soft and browned all over.
  4. Use a baster to ensure florets are well covered in juice, stir, then serve.

Tips: This is a great dish to mix and match flavors. Replace the Fines Herbes with cumin and dried coriander for a completely different, yet equally delicious side dish, or serve with pitas and hummus for an appy or vegetarian main dish.

Corn Salad

Can be served warm or cold.


  • 1-2 shallots
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 1 stalk celery, finely diced
  • 2-3 cups of fresh, frozen or drained, canned corn of your choice
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Chili powder or Sriracha (optional)
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1 each red and green peppers, finely diced
  • 1 bunch Fresh cilantro, chopped


  1. Sautee the shallot and celery in a large skillet until shallots are translucent. Add chili powder (if using) for last minute of frying.
  2. Add corn all at once.
  3. Add salt and pepper to taste, cook until corn is plump and hot all the way through.
  4. Add juice from 1 lime and Sriracha (if using). Mix well and remove from heat.
  5. Add diced peppers and cilantro.
  6. Taste for personal preference – add more lime juice, salt and pepper if needed (it usually needs extra lime juice ‘freshness’).
  7. Serve immediately, hot, or refrigerate and serve cold later. Keeps in the fridge VERY well for up to a week.

“Vurkey” aka Vegan Turkey

 vegan turkeyIngredients

  • 1 Onion
  • 1 Leek
  • 1 – 2 shallots
  • 4 ribs celery
  • 1 carrot
  • Approx 10 medium sized mushrooms of your choice (mini portobellos give a great texture and flavor)
  • 1 apple
  • 1 small sweet potato
  • 1 cup diced butternut squash
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 2-3 cups cooked quinoa
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • 2 cans white beans (or a mix of your favorites)
  • 3-5 cloves garlic, smashed
  • Assorted herbs (try Fine Herbes, or a Poultry mix if using fresh. If using dried, any combination of your favorites will work, try dried celery seed, parsley, rosemary, savory, chives or tarragon according to your individual tastes)
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Dash of Worcestershire Sauce
  • Squirt of Sriracha or hot sauce (optional)


  1. If you have a food processor, separately grind all vegetables down to a rough consistency, stopping before they become pureed. No food processor? You can grate or dice them. The smaller the better for flavor!
  2. Peel and dice the apple
  3. Puree rolled oats with ½ cup of the beans until smooth. This will be your egg-less binder.
  4. Sautee the ground up onions, shallots, leeks, celery, carrot and sweet potato for about 10 minutes. Add the mushrooms, ½ the butternut squash and ½ the cauliflower, and sautee until they release their liquid. Continue cooking until the liquid evaporates. If using dried herbs, add them while the liquid cooks off.
  5. Drain and roughly mash the beans with a fork – leave lumps behind!
  6. Add cooled, cooked quinoa to the beans.
  7. Add Oat and Bean puree, mix well.
  8. Add garlic, Worcestershire sauce, Sriracha or hot sauce, fresh herbs, cooked and raw vegetables to the Quinoa, beans and oats mixture. Mix well to combine. Salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Squeeze a meatball sized ball together in your hand. If it ‘sticks’ it’s ready to shape. If it falls apart, add more oats (oats can be whole at this point).
  10. Mold the mixture into the shape of a turkey and roast at 350 degrees F until it starts to brown and feels firm to the touch (about 45 minutes). Let cool a few minutes. Put remaining 2 ribs of celery into the Vurkey like drumsticks and serve!

Vegan Gravy


  • 1 Onion, or shallot, or leek, or combination of the above
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 apple, diced
  • 10 Medium sized mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons of flour
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • Herbs of your choice, fresh or dried
  • 1 Strongbow Cider (can or bottle)
  • 1 cup of apple juice
  • Salt and Pepper


  1. Sautee onions, garlic, apple, mushrooms and dried herbs (if using dried) in a pot until the apple gets soft and the pan starts to dry out.
  2. Sprinkle flour over and stir quickly to avoid sticking. Cook for approximately 1 minute until the flour is well mixed in and cooked.
  3. Deglaze the pot with a splash of cider, stir quickly until it’s incorporated. It will be a sticky, gluey mess on the bottom of the pot.
  4. Add remaining cider, apple juice, Worcestershire sauce, cook over medium-high until boiling and thickened, reduce heat and simmer until it’s the thickness you desire for your gravy. If using fresh herbs, add them towards the end of the cooking so they don’t turn bitter.
  5. Pour into a gravy boat and amaze your vegan friends.

Lightly Curried Cranberry Sauce


  • 1 bag of fresh (or frozen) cranberries
  • 1 large or 2 small shallots, diced finely
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1-inch chunk of ginger, grated
  • 1 pinch of turmeric
  • 1 pinch of cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp of garam masala
  • 1/4 cup of sugar (adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 – 1 cup of unsweetened orange juice
  • Salt to taste


  1. Sautee shallots in a small splash of neutral, heat safe oil over medium until they release their liquid (do not brown).
  2. Add turmeric, cumin, garam masala and ginger, fry 1 – 2 minutes.
  3. Add cranberries, garlic, sugar and enough orange juice to just cover the cranberries.
  4. Cook over med-high heat until the cranberries start to burst. Taste the broth and add sugar as needed, about 1 tablespoon at a time (depends on the tartness of the berries and the orange juice). Salt if desired.
  5. Reduce heat, let simmer until it’s the desired consistency (thin or jam-like). Remove from heat.

Tips: The sauce can be made the night before and refrigerated, bring it to room temperature before serving. This sauce is delicious as an accompaniment to your turkey dinner, or wonderful as an addition to a cheese and cracker plate. It’s particularly good on top of brie and onion tarts!

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author: Melissa Nilan