Thanksgiving is only a couple days away, and I’m looking forward to the big meal and family traditions the holiday brings. The amazing part of the Thanksgiving meal is that aside from the turkey and cranberry, most of the traditional components can be grown right in your backyard garden. There’s something meaningful about celebrating the harvest with the knowledge that your cultivation efforts played a central role in the holiday feast. The following are some of my favorite ways to incorporate garden produce into Thanksgiving dishes.
1. Garden-Grown Green Bean Casserole
Instead of the classic 1950s green bean casserole that consists of canned beans and heavily processed onion sticks, try reviving this dish with frozen green beans from your own garden. One of my favorite beans that I grow almost every year is the Blue Lake pole bean, which is great fresh but also known for its ability to freeze well. Using fresh green beans will add depth to this essential holiday casserole, and you can even flash-fry your own garden-grown sweet onions to top it.
2. Sweet or Savory Purple Sweet Potatoes
I am looking forward to trying to find the best use for my All Purple heirloom sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving, and I’ve come up with a few ideas. These starchy sweet potatoes might be perfect for a roasted root-vegetable medley with winter squash and freshly pulled turnips. Or perhaps they could be used for a visually stunning purple sweet potato pie or casserole. Because my harvest was so prolific, I could choose to do both.
3. Fresh Homemade Pumpkin Pie
One of my favorite dishes to make every year is homemade pie featuring freshly roasted pumpkin. Unfortunately, my Long Island Cheese pumpkin harvest was a disappointment. Four plants had happily taken over a corner of my garden, but I came out one morning and found the plants wilted and the pumpkins shriveled up. An inspection of the plant bases revealed typical evidence of squash vine borer activity: small holes and sawdust-like debris. Next year, the pumpkins are going to be protected with a floating row cover so that I can enjoy fresh homemade pumpkin pie, featuring the tan flesh of this delicious heirloom pumpkin.
Whatever traditional Thanksgiving dishes your family puts on the table, the meal will be even more special with homegrown ingredients adding a healthy and fresh twist. When planning your garden for next year, consider growing something special for the Thanksgiving table!