Whether it's a historic recipe passed down through the generations, a regional specialty, a dish from your ethnic heritage, or just a hands-down favorite that you eat only on this day, every family has at least one dish that defines Thanksgiving and makes the spread unique to your clan. Check out some of our favorite out-of-the-ordinary Thanksgiving dishes.
For many, the real star of a Thanksgiving dinner is the assemblage of side dishes, not the turkey. To help you put together a showstopping selection for your table, we've rounded up our favorites, including mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, and much more.
In Season: Pomegranates begin to ripen in September and are available through January.What to Look For: Choose deeply colored purplish-red pomegranates that feel heavy for their size. Avoid any fruit that is cracked or has soft spots.How to Store: When kept in an airtight bag in the refrigerator, whole pomegranates will keep for a month or more. Pomegranate seeds should be refrigerated and used within a few days.
Long before the appetizer is served, your table will make a good first impression with these fall-fruit place cards. Here, small pears and sweet-gum-tree spurs hold paper name tags punched with holes and tied in place with ribbon or twine. Any small fruit, such as crab apples or jack-be-little pumpkins, can be used.
In Season: The quince has been a popular ingredient since medieval times. The fruit is tart and chalky when raw, but cooking it brings out its sweet flavor and seductive aroma. Quince season begins in late summer and lasts through the fall.What to Look For: The quince is related to apples and pears, and looks similar to a stubby-necked pear. Ripe quinces are bright-yellow with fuzzy skin. The flesh is creamy white and firm, but turns soft and rosy pink when cooked.How to Store: Keep quinces in a bowl at room temperature for up to a week, or refrigerate in an airtight bag for as long as two months.
In Season: There are two main varieties of persimmon commercially available in the U.S. today: the acorn-shaped Hachiya, and the squat, tomato-shaped Fuyu. Persimmons begin appearing in markets in late September and are available through December.What to Look For: Hachiya persimmons remain tart and chalky until they are extremely ripe, while Fuyu persimmons are sweeter and can be eaten while still firm. Look for persimmons with taut, glossy skin, avoiding fruit with soft spots or bruises.How to Store: If persimmons are still firm, store them at room temperature and allow them to ripen. Store soft, ripe persimmons in the refrigerator until ready to eat.
In Season: Celery root, also called celeriac, is harvested in the late fall. This ugly duckling has a distinct, refreshing flavor reminiscent of a cross between celery and parsley. The green stalks that sprout from the root aren't for snacking -- they're more pungent and not as crisp as regular celery -- but are wonderful simmered in soup or stock. Celery root stores well at cool temperatures, so it's available throughout the winter. Some markets carry it year-round. What to Look For: Celery root is roughly globe-shaped, with a knobby, uneven surface. The outside is a mottled brown color and the interior is creamy white. Choose firm celery root that feels heavy for its size, and avoid any that have soft spots. How to Store: Wrap celery root loosely and store in the produce drawer of the refrigerator for up to two weeks.