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A Lighter Thanksgiving Dinner

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Celebrate fall's flavors while still eating sensibly with this simple Thanksgiving menu.

This Thanksgiving menu for six is bursting with delicious fall flavors, but in portions that won’t leave you feeling like a stuffed turkey. The centerpiece is an impressive rolled roast turkey breast with a spiral of stuffing and a cider gravy. (And since it’s a boneless breast, you don’t need to spend all day roasting the bird). Jewel-Roasted Vegetables—carrots, beets, and brussels sprouts—brighten up the plate, while smashed potatoes made with lower-fat sour cream have all the richness of the traditional version. Finally, a pumpkin pie flan satisfies the craving for that spicy-sweet holiday classic, sans crust.

Menu Timeline

In the Morning:

  • Make and bake the Pumpkin Pie Flans and let them cool at room temperature
  • Pound the butterflied turkey breast and make the stuffing for the Turkey Roulade.
  • Stuff, roll, and tie the Turkey Roulade. Refrigerate it, covered, until you are ready to roast.
  • Toast the walnuts, shave the Parmesan, and make the dressing for the Chicory Salad.

2-1/2 hours ahead:

  • Prep the vegetables for Jewel Roasted Vegetables. Heat the oven to 375° F.

2 hours ahead:

  • Begin roasting the beets at 375° for the Jewel Roasted Vegetables.
  • Remove the Turkey Roulade from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature.

1-1/2 hours ahead:

  • Begin roasting the carrots and Brussels Sprouts for the Jewel-Roasted Vegetables.
  • Sear the Turkey Roulade and then put it in the oven to roast with the Jewel-Roasted Vegetables.

45 minutes ahead:

  • Steam the potatoes for the Smashed Potatoes with Sour Cream and Chives.

20 minutes ahead:

  • Make the gravy for the Turkey Roulade.
  • Peel and cut the beets for the Jewel-Roasted Vegetables. Toss with the other vegetables and season.

10 minutes ahead:

  • Smash the potatoes and stir in the sour cream and chives.
  • Toss the chicory with dressing, divide between six serving plates, and top with walnuts and shaved Parmesan.

Just before dessert:

  • Unmold and serve the Pumpkin Pie Flans.

Shopping List

Fresh Produce

  • 4 medium beets
  • 1-1/2 lb. carrots
  • 1-1/2 lb.Brussels sprouts
  • 1-1/4 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes (about 4 medium)
  • 1/2 lb. chicory or other leafy green
  • 2 medium onions
  • 1 bulb garlic
  • 1 bunch fresh chives
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme
  • 1 bunch fresh sage

Meat, Eggs & Dairy

  • One 2-1/2-pound boneless turkey breast half, skin removed and butterflied (you can ask your butcher to butterfly it for you)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1/2 oz. Parmigiano-Reggiano

Other Groceries

  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 5 slices day-old whole-wheat bread
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 3/4 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup evaporated milk

Pantry Staples

  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 3 Tbs. walnut or olive oil
  • 3 Tbs. cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. canola oil
  • 1 Tbs. sherry vinegar
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. table salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • black peppercorns
  • Nonstick cooking spray

The Menu


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