"Trendy" is not a word typically associated with Thanksgiving, a holiday that's more often about tradition and, let's face it, menu tyranny. (Yes, Aunt Sue will be bringing her gelatin salad and no, you may not ask her to change the recipe.)
Yet Thanksgiving trends are out there, and we found some of them by digging through all of this fall's Thanksgiving magazines.
Tracking Thanksgiving trends is something we did for years over on our blog, The Bitten Word. There was the year everyone discovered fennel, and the year that three different magazines recommended that you brûlée the top of your pumpkin pie. (We've still got our little blowtorch from that year if you need to borrow it.) In our 2016 roundup, Hasselback potatoes reigned supreme.
Flipping through all the recipes in this year's Thanksgiving food mags was no different. Certain ingredients are definitely having a moment. Here are four big Thanksgiving trends we noticed in food magazines this year. Will you buck tradition and bring the trendy to your table?
Grapes are by no means a stranger to the Thanksgiving table, but it's notable how much they pop up this year, especially as a way to add a sweet hint to savory dishes. Rachael Ray suggests a grape and dried cherry mostarda as an alternative to cranberry sauce, and Food & Wine offers up a roasted cranberry-grape sauce. Two different publications — Better Homes and Gardens [recipe not online] and Food Network Magazine — have recipes for roasted Brussels sprouts with grapes.
Beets are like cilantro — people tend to either love 'em or hate 'em. So it's interesting to see beets trending for Thanksgiving, when you're trying to please a whole bunch of palates at once. Nonetheless, we found a surprising handful of beet recipes in the mix this year. There's a tricolor beet and carrot salad at Cooking Light, roasted beets with grapefruit and rosemary in Bon Appétit, and roasted carrots and beets with pecan pesto in Food Network Magazine. Rachael Ray doubles down on beets with a tangy beet dip and a shaved beet & green bean salad.
Lots of food magazines are incorporating chiles into their Thanksgiving menus this year. It's easy to see why: Thanksgiving meals can easily devolve into a sea of starchy, beige blandness. Chiles are a good way to add some heat and some interest to familiar dishes. This November, Southern Living features a green chile corn pudding, while Food Network Magazine has a chorizo-green chile stuffing. At Cook's Country there's a jalapeño-cheddar cornbread, and Martha Stewart Living has a recipe for quick-pickled chiles, which can be added to roasted vegetables for a spicy kick.
Stuffed Acorn Squash
Acorn squash on a Thanksgiving menu is hardly revolutionary, but we noticed an interesting mini-trend for stuffed acorn squash, including Cooking Light's acorn squash with wild rice stuffing, Martha Stewart Living's acorn squash with mixed-grain stuffing, and Rachael Ray's stuffed acorn squash with charred onions and kale. Personally, we think Thanksgiving dinner, when you're scrambling to get 14 different dishes on the table at the same time, is the last occasion we'd want to add a step of shoving stuffing into hollowed-out squash. But hey, we're sure they taste delicious.
Are you trendy or traditional? Grapes, beets, chiles, stuffed squash — will any of these make it onto your Thanksgiving menu?