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Non-Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas

Bored of turkey? Terrified of stuffing? Sick of canned cranberries?

Me too. I'm not interested in turkey or stuffing or cranberries this Thanksgiving. So I decided that when my fiancee and I host our families next Thursday, we're going to be serving an Italian-centric feast of antipasto, quiche, veal and beef lasagna, pan-roasted Brussels sprouts, and dark chocolate tort for dessert.

I figure, since Thanksgiving is one holiday where you basically spend an inordinate amount of time cooking, then you may as well make what you enjoy.

For a family that's used to tradition, bucking the turkey trend can get some complaints. I'm already anticipating hearing a family member moan and groan about the lack of turkey. So, yeah, we may break down and cook one of those too.

But if you're dead set on skipping the plain Jane bird, here are a few ideas to make it work:

1. Pick a cuisine and go with it:

Instead of a full-on Thanksgiving-style meal, try recreating a

traditional meal from another country. A Japanese- or Korean-inspired

table might be a fun way to learn about (and learn to cook) a bunch of

traditional plates from that cuisine. How about a whole host of banchan

with bulgogi beef and ssam lettuce wraps (seen above). Or riff on T-Day

with a meal from Turkey: roasted lamb, pide bread, onion salad, and grilled tomatoes. Yum! 

2. Incorporate the bird:

How about instead of roasted turkey, making turkey meatballs. Turkey

kofta? There's always turkey enchiladas, turkey picadillo, or turkey

Franchaise. This way, you can appease the turkey lovers in your group

while going above and beyond at the same time.

3. Fancy up the traditional stuff:

Another way you can change it up is make a gourmet version of regular

Thanksgiving day items. Buy a heritage bird and season it a special

way. Try marinating or brining, or even employing exotic spices instead

of the regular old sage and thyme. Instead of canned cranberry sauce

and green bean casserole, try making your own homemade cranberry

compote or sauteed green beans bonne femme. Who knows -- you might just make a new Thanksgiving tradition in the process.

Follow Clean Plate Charlie on Twitter: @CleanPlateBPB

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John Linn

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