Hindi Day Dinner [CYOB]

As a general rule of thumb, a dinner plate - especially when it is so unabashedly full - should be more than 50 percent vegetables.

As a general rule of thumb, a dinner plate – especially when it is so unabashedly full – should be more than 50 percent vegetables.

It was hardly a surprise that when I brought my good friend Sirma home to spend Thanksgiving with the Little Word Bites family, the Turkey/Turkey questions and puns were ceaseless. That’s because Sirma is from Istanbul, Turkey, and because my family members think they are relentlessly funny. And while they don’t have Thanksgiving in Turkey, they do apparently eat the bird in great quantities, although it is consumed under the Turkish name hindi, meaning Indian. The ironies continue.

We all know the American Heritage version of Thanksgiving Day origins; the grand feast prompted by a bountiful harvest, celebrated together by Native Americans and the Pilgrims they helped to survive the first brutal New England winter. Now, the holiday is observed as a gathering of friends and family to indulge in thick slices of pumpkin pie, whole-berry cranberry sauce, stuffing, and turkey. But as a matter of tradition, we take a moment to reflect on the things we are thankful for, and the bounties of our life, rather than our fields.

Sirma said the LWB Thanksgiving Dinner, aside from the obligatory turkey, was a surprisingly green feast, in comparison to the other Thanksgiving dinners she has experienced during her years in the States. Most of the dishes served were vegan and gluten-free, and all but one were vegetarian. (Not including the gravy, or my father’s reserve of stuffing with pork sausage, just because).

White button mushrooms stuffed with mushroom, onion, garlic, parsley, and parmesan, were a savory and allergen-friendly starter.

White button mushrooms stuffed with mushroom, onion, garlic, parsley, and Parmesan, were a hearty, allergen-friendly starter (gluten-free, grain-free, and lactose-free).

The LWB Thanksgiving Dinner  started with Baked Mushroom-Stuffed Mushrooms and a raw vegetable cruditee platter; Havarti Dill Cheese and Jarlsburg, with an assortment of crackers in “entertaining” shapes. With dinner, there were the typical garlicky green beans, of course, and the great casserole dishes of whipped sweet potatoes (no sugar added) and Mushroom-Celery Stuffing. But we also served a fresh Romaine Salad with tomatoes and cucumbers, grilled asparagus, Balsamic Roasted Mushrooms and Onions, and my contribution: a Roasted Kale, Cauliflower, and Parsnip Salad with Fresh Rosemary and Lemon Zest.

Before roasting the cauliflower florets and parsnip, place fresh rosemary throughout the vegetables, along with fresh lemon zest, garlic, salt, pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil. When the vegetables are tender, top with kale dressed with lemon juice, garlic, and  a splash of olive oil. Bake for just a few minutes, until the kale begins to wilt. Mix together, and serve warm with Parmesan cheese.

Before roasting the cauliflower florets and parsnips, place fresh rosemary throughout the medley, along with fresh lemon zest, garlic, salt, pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil. When the vegetables are tender, top with kale dressed with lemon juice, garlic, and a splash of olive oil. Bake for just a few minutes, until the kale begins to wilt. Mix together, and serve warm with Parmesan cheese.

This year, I also created an accompanying cocktail; a Cranberry Rosemary Gin & Tonic. I made the zero-calorie cranberry rosemary syrup with Truvia, and strained the mix into a tumbler with a double shot of gin, diet tonic, a splash of fresh squeezed lime, and a sprig of rosemary to garnish.

This festive spin on the classic cocktail is the perfect accompaniment to TurkeY Day Dinner. The flavors are complementary, but the drink itself is crisp and herbaceous - not at all too sweet over rich.

This festive spin on the classic cocktail is the perfect accompaniment to TurkeY Day Dinner. The flavors are complementary, but the drink itself is crisp and herbaceous – not at all too sweet over rich.

While the LWB kitchen takes no responsible for my cousin’s rich, buttery Derby Pie (chock full of whole pecans, chunks of chocolate, and a generous splash of rum) there was a fat-free, sugar-free Pumpkin Mousse Pie and No Sugar Added Breyer’s Vanilla ice cream to balance out the more decadent desserts on the table.

Because we’re always running 30 minutes behind in my family, Sirma played an important part in the Pumpkin Pie’s creation. She helped us stir together the sugar-free, fat-free vanilla pudding until it set. Meanwhile, my mother portioned out 15 ounces of pumpkin puree, a cup of sugar-free whipped topping, a cup of fat-free milk and pumpkin pie spice. When mixed together, the pie is a light, effervescent mousse that can be easily poured into Reduced Fat Graham Cracker Crust. We tucked it in the freezer until it set, and served it with Sugar-Free Whipped Cream.

With the crust, this pie has only 180 calories per slice; without the crust, the pumpkin pie filling has less than 80 calories per serving.

With the crust, this pie has only 180 calories per slice; without the crust, the pumpkin pie filling has less than 80 calories per serving.

There were cranberry, white chocolate, pumpkin oatmeal cookies and a shamelessly rich carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. But to continue the non-traditional Turkey Day Theme, my father pulled together a Limoncello Pie with a house-made Vanilla Wafer Cookie Crust and lemon-scented whipped cream.

Around my family’s elongated dining room table, an extra leaf inserted to support the wide platters of vegetables and heaping plates of brined bird meat, sat three generations of the LWB clan, a cat, two dogs, and Sirma. It was an unconventional meal, but it proved that the feast meant for giving thanks means the same thing –  şükretme, or giving thanks.

Photo Credit: Creepy iPhone App that rotates and videographs your family dinner while you unknowingly stuff your face.

Photo Credit: Creepy iPhone App that rotates and videographs your family dinner while you unknowingly stuff your face.

Thank you to Sirma, for her extraordinary spirit and friendship, and for spending the holiday with me and my family. Thank you to all my other friends, my family, and (not to be redundant) my readers. You have all been the source of my endless gratitude, my enormous appetite for all things happy, healthy, and delicious.

Until next year, Melanie

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