Experimentation plays a big part in my holiday menus. Sure, I love the classics. But because of my work, by the time I make it to Thanksgiving proper, I’ve already cooked a turkey (or two) and all manner of autumn pies. My taste buds grow restless; I want some new flavors. Over the years, I’ve found that appetizers are a great outlet for that creative culinary urge.
So this year, I’m forgoing heavy starters and experimenting with a trio of vibrant Thanksgiving appetizers that will amuse palates without overwhelming them and have a light enough presence that everyone will be ready for the main course. I’m also keeping the libations simple with two crowd-pleasing varietals from Mirassou Winery. Thanksgiving at my house usually kicks off with a bit of chaos and I’ve found that the versatility of Mirassou’s Pinot Noir and Chardonnay gives guests two great options that are certain to complement whatever food I’m serving.
Alongside Mirassou wines, I’ll be setting out striking radicchio cups with a lemony fennel and apple slaw; crunchy and assertive quick pickled beets, turnips, and radishes; and salty, spicy toasted pepitas, along with nutty cheeses, olives, prosciutto, and toasted naan. With notes of cherry and currant, and undertones of vanilla, Mirassou’s Pinot Noir pairs wonderfully with the sophisticated flavors in the radicchio cups. Mirassou’s delicate Chardonnay has notes of peach and pineapple, and a creamy, complex finish that beautifully complements the salty spice of the pepitas and balances the punch of the pickles.
The recipes below are simple, forgiving, and can be made ahead of time. I’ve yet to meet a quick pickle I didn’t like, so please experiment with whatever vegetables, vinegars, and spices your heart desires. Just don’t forget to make them ahead of time – quick pickles need a few days to cure.
- 1 pound each turnips and beets, scrubbed with greens trimmed
- 1 bunch radishes, scrubbed with greens trimmed
- 2 cups apple cider vinegar
- 2 cups water
- 10 peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 3 leaves bay
Set out 3 clean pint jars.
Place turnips and beets in a large pot. Fill with cold water so vegetables are covered by 2-inches of water and bring to a boil. Boil 15 - 30 minutes or until vegetables are easily pierced with a fork. Drain and set aside to cool.
When cool, use a peeler to easily remove skin under cold running water. Cut vegetables into 1/2-inch wedges (halves, quarters, or sixths, depending on the size). Pack turnips and 3 slices beets into a pint jar (to give the turnips color). Pack remaining beets in a pint jar.
Meanwhile, halve radishes and pack into a pint jar.
Combine vinegar, water, spices, and salt in a medium saucepan, set over medium-high heat, and bring to a boil. When mixture boils, pour liquid into vegetable-packed jars. Divide bay leaves and peppercorns between them. Allow pickles to cool to room temp, then seal and set in fridge for at least one day or up to 2 weeks.
- 1 large fennel bulb, trimmed with core cut out
- 2 - 3 tart apples (I used pippins)
- tablespoons zest of 1 lemon plus 2 juice, divided
- 1 clove garlic, smash, peeled, and minced
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup minced parsley, plus more for garnish
- 1/4 cup shaved Parmesan
- 1 head radicchio, cored
On a mandoline, carefully julienne the fennel and apples. Toss with lemon zest and 1 tablespoon lemon juice.
In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together remaining tablespoon lemon juice, garlic, honey, sea salt, and pepper. Whisk in olive oil. Drizzle over slaw. Toss in parsley and Parmesan. Taste and add salt or pepper as needed.
To prep radicchio, gently pull leaves off one by one as careful as possible. This is easiest with small oval radicchio and not big round ones.
Lay radicchio leaves out on a platter and fill with a spoonful of slaw. Garnish with parsley and black pepper.
Radicchio cups can be made a few hours ahead of time then covered with plastic wrap and set in the fridge. The slaw can be made a day ahead and kept covered in the fridge. Drain off any accumulated juiced before serving.
- 1/2 cup raw, hulled pepitas
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Set a large skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil, and when hot, add pepitas, chili powder, and sea salt. Toast, stirring and shaking pan often, until pepitas become fragrant and start to pop. Spoon into a bowl and serve.
Pepitas can be made ahead of time, and keep well for a few days covered at room temperature.
This post is sponsored by Mirassou Winery. Thanks for supporting the brands that make BkS possible!