Thanksgiving Recipes With a Greek Twist

By Anna Skamangas-Scaros BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP WITH GREEK YOGURT AND HONEY DRIZZLE This classic soup takes on a Greek flair with Greek yogurt in place of sour cream and a drizzle of honey to sweeten the palate. Use a high quality honey with a distinct flavor (thyme, buckwheat, or orange blossom are my favorite) to highlight the flavor. Serves 6-8 Ingredients: 2 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced in 1-inch pieces (approximately 2 pounds) 2 Tbs olive oil ¼ tsp of cinnamon pinch of salt and pepper 5 Tbs butter 1 cup leeks, washed and sliced (white and light green parts only) 2 cups onions, peeled and finely diced 1 quart hot chicken stock 2 cups heavy cream 3 Tbs Greek honey 1/4 cup Greek yogurt Directions: 1. Warm 2 tablespoons of the butter plus 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepot over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, add the onions, leeks and a pinch of salt to the pot, and cover, cooking for 8-10 minutes or until the onions are soft, stirring occasionally. Add the squash and stock to the pot, and stir to incorporate ingredients; simmer for 30 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream, and simmer for another 5 minutes; skim the foam from the top of the soup. Cook until the squash is tender, about another 5-10 minutes. 2. Puree the soup using a hand held mixer or transfer to a blender or food processor to puree. Strain the soup into another stock pot though a coarse sieve. With a hand held blender, add the reserved 3 tablespoons of butter, cinnamon, and season with salt and pepper. To serve, ladle soup into six to eight soup bowls. Top with a dollop of Greek yogurt, and drizzle with Greek honey. Serve immediately. TURKEY UNDER A BRICK This variation of the roasted bird is quick, easy, and can be done on the grill outside to reduce cleanup time. It comes out juicy and tender every single time and makes a great turkey sandwich if you can find any leftovers! Each breast half served 4-6 Ingredients: One whole turkey breast, boned, split, skin still on (about 6 pounds total) 1 cup grape seed oil ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 4 lemons) 2 Tbsp. fresh oregano, or 1 Tbsp. dried 5 cloves of fresh garlic, crushed ¾ teaspoon each salt and pepper Directions: This step can be done up to 2 days ahead of time. The longer the turkey sits in the marinade, the more flavorful the meat, but at least the night before you want to cook the turkey: In a blender or food processor, blend the oil, lemon juice, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper for about one minute to make a marinade. The garlic should be minced by the time you are done blending. Place turkey breasts in a gallon sized Ziploc bag and pour marinade in with the turkey. You may need to use two bags, depending on the size of the turkey breasts. You can also do this in a glass baking dish and cover with plastic wrap. In the morning, turn the turkey breasts over so that the other side of the breast has a chance to sit in the marinade. Wrap a brick in aluminum foil. Heat a cast iron skillet on the grill or in your oven until smoking point. Place marinated turkey breast, skin side down and place brick wrapped in aluminum foil on top of the turkey breast to sear the skin. Lightly cover the entire skillet with foil to prevent splattering. If you are cooking on the grill, close the lid and allow the turkey to cook with the brick sitting on it for 25 minutes. If you are doing this in your kitchen, transfer the skillet to your stovetop on medium-high heat. Allow to cook with the brick sitting on it for 25 minutes. Remove the brick and turn the turkey breast over and allow to cook for an additional 15 minutes without the brick, or until an instant read thermometer registers 165 degrees F. Remove the turkey breast from the skillet and allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing. A thin layer of the outside will be charred and can be removed before slicing. LEMON SCENTED ROASTED POTATOES Roasted potatoes can make a debut at your Thanksgiving table if you are looking for something different than the classic mashed. These potatoes compliment a variety of dishes at your table. I am a big fan of Yukon Gold potatoes for their buttery flavor and yellow flesh. You can also try fingerling potatoes, or even purple potatoes with great success. These all have outstanding flavor and a gourmet appeal. Serves 6-8 Ingredients: 5-6 potatoes, peeled and cut in to evenly sized wedges (about 2 pounds) 1/3 cup olive oil 2 tsp. fresh oregano or 1 tsp. dried 2 cloves fresh garlic, crushed or pressed through a garlic press. Juice of 2 lemons 1/2 cup chicken broth Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste Directions: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, add the potato wedges and toss them with the remaining ingredients until they are well coated. Lightly grease a cookie sheet with olive oil. Place the coated potatoes in a single layer on the sheet and drizzle them with any remaining marinade left in the bowl. Bake for approximately one hour. Carefully turn the potatoes halfway through cooking to prevent them from sticking and to brown them evenly. Re-season with salt and pepper when they are fresh out of the oven. GREEN BEANS AND CARROTS IN TOMATO SAUCE WITH CRUMBLED FETA Vegetable dishes that are cooked with olive oil and tomatoes are referred to in Greek as lathera (lah-the-RAH), because the ingredient that imparts the flavor is the olive oil, or “lathi.” This version includes some carrots and will complement the Turkey Under a Brick recipe for your Thanksgiving table. This will also please any vegetarians who may be joining you. Serves 4-6 Ingredients: 2 lbs. green beans, cleaned and trimmed 1/2 cup olive oil 1 large onion, diced 2 cloves garlic, minced 10 baby carrots 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley 2 tbsp. tomato paste 1 cup of canned crushed tomatoes 1½ cups warm water 1 tsp. honey 1 tbsp. chopped fresh dill Salt and pepper to taste Directions: In a large Dutch oven or pot, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and saute until translucent. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about one minute. Add the green beans and carrots to the pot. Dissolve the tomato paste in the water and add, along with the crushed tomatoes, parsley, and honey. Lower the heat to medium low and simmer covered for about an hour or until the green beans are tender but not mushy. In the last ten minutes of cooking, add the chopped fresh dill and season with salt and pepper to taste. Monitor the liquid levels while the beans are cooking. Add a little bit of water if needed. GREEK STUFFING No Thanksgiving Dinner would be complete and here we offer a truly unique dish. Many Greek stuffing recipes have a rice component. Here, we substitute quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) for the rice. Quinoa is a grain-like seed that is a complete protein and has high fiber content. When cooked, it will swell to about 10 times its size. It will have a rice-like texture when cooked through. Serves 6-8 Ingredients: 4 tablespoons grape seed or olive oil 2 medium onions, diced 1 large bunch of dill (about 10 stalks, 4 inches long), finely chopped 1 large bunch of parsley (about 10 stalks, 4 inches long), finely chopped Salt and pepper to taste 1 pound organic ground beef or venison 1 ½ cups organic quinoa rinsed (rice may be substituted, but I rarely use rice due to the arsenic levels recently discovered) 1 16 oz jar tomato sauce Directions: 1.)  Heat oil in a skillet until almost smoking.  Add onions and allow to cook until translucent. 2.)  Add dill, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste.  Stir until herbs are bright green. 3.)  Add ground meat and cook, breaking up the meat, until just cooked through. 4.)  Add quinoa or rice and mix into filling well. 5.)  Add tomato sauce, stir until combined and heat on medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until mixture begins to bubble. 6.)  Transfer to a glass baking dish and pour 1 ½ cups water into the stuffing and mix through. The mixture should be moist, but not too soupy. 7.)  Cover with aluminum foil and bake in a 350 degree oven for 45-60 minutes. Check occasionally to be sure that the stuffing has not dried out. Add small amounts of water (1/4 cup) if mixture is dry and quinoa has not cooked through.  GREEK PUMPKIN PIE WITH FILO DOUGH I have never been a huge fan of pumpkin pie. I know! So un-American! But, that is why this is Greek Thanksgiving. I like to use butternut squash in this recipe. Its flavor and texture trump typical pumpkin by leaps and bounds. An added bonus is that it is loaded with vitamin A and beta-carotene. Serves 8-10 Ingredients: 18 large sheets of filo dough (I recommend The Filo Factory organic filo – for a rustic taste, try their whole wheat filo also!) 3 to 3 ½  pounds of fresh butternut squash, peeled, seeded and grated 4 Tbsp olive oil 1 cup honey 2 cups of walnuts, crushed 1 1/3  cups of melted butter ¾ cup raisins 2 teaspoons cinnamon (I use Organic Vietnamese Cinnamon) Directions: Sauté the squash in the olive oil for 5-10 minutes, stirring so it doesn’t stick to the pan. Remove from the heat, and transfer to a metal or glass bowl. Stir in the honey, crushed walnuts, raisins and cinnamon, Stir well with a wooden spoon until thoroughly blended and smooth. Preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly butter a 9 x 13 inch cake pan and line with 8 sheets of filo, brushing each with butter. The filo will extend beyond the bottom edges of the pan. Spoon in the pumpkin mixture and spread evenly. Fold the filo that extends over the sides in over the mixture. Lay the remaining filo sheets on top, brushing each with butter, and trim off the edges that extend outside the pan with a sharp knife. Score the top filo sheets with a sharp knife into 9 even squares. Pour remaining butter over the top and tip pan back and forth to allow butter to evenly sink between the scores. Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until filo is golden on the top. Remove from the oven, set the pan on a rack and cool until the bottom of the pan is cool to the touch (about 2-3 hours).