As a country of immigrants, even the most traditionally American foods have roots elsewhere. We often forget that our culture is made up of many and that the origins of our people are eclectic and distinctive. Why not celebrate them? American cuisine is, quite literally, a melting pot of international flavors, histories and personalities. Our differences are perhaps our greatest asset; the one thing that makes us all truly “American.”
In a few days from now, Americans across the country will celebrate one of our most quintessential holidays. What better way to highlight the diversity of our country than to bring a little diversity back to the Thanksgiving table? This year, skip the green bean casserole and try one of these eclectic European dishes instead:
A French cheese plate
Of all the Thanksgiving appetizers, the easiest to assemble is a French cheese plate. Its versatile and feeds a crowd, and best of all can be served before the meal or after as a palate cleanser. Throw together some Brie, Chèvre, and Roquefort and garnish with grapes, nuts and honey. Your guests can snack on it throughout the day and soak up some of that pre-dinner wine. Get some tips for creating the perfect cheese plate here.
Blistered Spanish peppers with ham
Shishito and Padron Peppers are a classic tapas snack in Spain, and are extremely simple to prepare. Although typically mild, some of the peppers can be wildly hot, which makes eating them all the more exciting. Serve the peppers charred, drizzled with olive oil and sea salt with sliced serrano ham. Find a quick and easy tapas recipe here.
Bramboracky: Czech Potato pancakes
Bramboracky are traditional pan fried potato pancakes. A crispy, savory treat from the Czech Republic, these snacks are best served dunked in apple sauce and turkey gravy. Find a classic recipe here.
Spanish Stuffed Peppers
There is no better way to spice up your Thanksgiving spread than slow roasted, spicy peppers. An easy appetizer, these veggies are a kick of flavor that surpass the typically boring crudité. Whether stuffed with cheese, chorizo or rice, stuffed peppers are a fantastic way to surprise your guests and bring a taste of Spain to your table.
Cheesy German Spaetzle
If you’re stuck sitting at the kids table this year, you might as well eat like it. Cheesy Spaetzle is a classic German side dish eaten all over the country and different parts of Eastern Europe. Like most traditional dishes, every family has their own secret recipe. My favorite way to eat these plump and toothsome noodles is to cover them in Gruyere and caramelized onions and bake until golden. Serve with some extra sprinkled cheese and treat your guests to a tasty and creative spin on baked macaroni and cheese. Find the recipe here.
Knedliky: Czech Bread Dumplings
It’s no secret that one of the best parts of Thanksgiving is the gravy. But what good is gravy without something to sop it up with? Knedliky are traditional Czech bread dumplings. These steamed balls of yeasty dough are tasty and filling and a mainstay on most Czech dinner menus. A classic example of Czech cuisine, Knedliky are a customary part of any authentic Czech meal.
What’s better than mashed potatoes? Potato dumplings mixed with sauerkraut and sausage. Don’t worry, you can smother it in gravy too. A traditional “peasant’s food,” haluski defines the term “comfort food” and goes perfectly with all the usual Thanksgiving fixin’s.
Spanish Chocolate Churros
An interesting alternative to pie, these crispy, crunchy fried dessert strips are a traditional Spanish dessert. Either covered in sugar or chocolate sauce, Churros are a fun way to surprise the family and please a crowd. Find a fun and easy Chocolate Churro recipe here.
A bottle of Sandeman 10 Year Tawny Port
What’s a Thanksgiving table without long, drawn out arguments amongst family members over wine and pie? This year, bring the family together and quiet the arguing over a bottle of 10-year tawny port. Portugal boasts some of the most stellar dessert wine in the world and this bottle will be sure to please all the drinkers, no matter what they think about the election. In the NY area, you can find Sandeman 10 Year Tawny Port here.
A lover of food, wine and travel, Laura is a freelance writer from NYC eating and drinking her way through the world. A graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education, Laura is a trained chef with a degree in culinary arts and a WSET II award in wine & spirits.