This Thanksgiving, let’s wow our guests with a beautiful, delicious garden-to-table meal sourced from our own backyard gardens. Look, you put all that effort into your garden for a reason. I hereby give you permission to show off a little! I absolutely love to plan a party and gather all the people I love together, and I can’t wait to personalize my menu and my decor with ingredients and inspiration from my garden this Thanksgiving. Integrating the bounty from my garden reminds me to go back to my roots and really give thanks to the things that ground me, sustain me, and inspire me.
Have you already started planning your menu? If you need inspo, I’ve gathered a bunch of my favorite garden fresh recipes that serve up those cozy, hearty fall flavors. You’ll definitely see some of these on my Thanksgiving dinner table!
Garden-to-Table Recipes for Thanksgiving
A great way to balance a typically heavy Thanksgiving meal is to serve some lighter, fresh courses like green salads. Cold-hearty greens varieties like kale and spinach can be picked fresh from your garden, and topped with seasonal ingredients like toasted pumpkin seeds, apples, or cinnamon roasted nuts to elevate the flavors. Top it off with a bright vinaigrette made with garden herb infused vinegars and oils, and you’ve got a side dish that might steal the show.
Get creative by adding other garden ingredients, like beets or celeriac, or mixing your garden greens with arugula or fresh herbs to create different flavor profiles.
Want a sneak peak at the kind of recipes I share in my garden-to-table membership? You can check out this Beet Apple Arugula Salad with ginger dressing recipe, a vibrant salad that is perfect for fall.
Is ease your top priority when cooking for Thanksgiving? Look no further than roasted veggies. They’re quick to prep, low-maintenance while cooking, and endlessly versatile. Roasted Brussels sprouts are classic, but cauliflower, broccoli, fennel, squash, beets, onions, garlic, parsnips, carrots, and potatoes all lend well to roasting. Check out all my tips and recipes for roasting veggies here.
Like I mentioned above, and I’m sure you experimented with before, roasting is a great method for all kinds of squash. The way squash caramelizes on the outside while becoming melt-in-your-mouth silky smooth on the inside is a combo to die for. One of my favorite appetizer recipes is a roasted squash spread, or consider subbing out sweet potato casserole for a squash bake this year.
Amp up your classic mashed potatoes by adding some parsnip or cauliflower into the mash.
While it might not be top of mind, soup is a great addition to a Thanksgiving table. If you’re serving a more traditional, sit-down dinner, a bowl of pumpkin soup is a beautiful opening course. And there are so many delicious vegetarian and vegan soup recipes that can create additional options for any guests with dietary requirements.
Aaand, we’re not gonna forget about cranberry relish! Here in Wisconsin, we’re known for our cranberry bogs, so pick up some fresh, locally-grown cranberries and whip up your classic relish, or elevate the flavors a little this year by adding fennel, apple, orange, or a warming spice mix.
Last week the garden-to-table group and I got a crash course in making sourdough, and we all walked out with our very own starters and some vetted recipes. With gusty winds and cloudy skies, it was the perfect day to gather and learn together around the warmth of the oven. I plan on bringing that same sense of community to my Thanksgiving gathering, as well as a loaf or two of fresh baked sourdough bread. And to really knock the socks off my guests, I’m going to make a garden herb infused butter, too. Is anyone else drooling right now?
A savory galette is a beautiful way to showcase garden veggies like leeks, kale, or even tomatoes. Balance the rich flavors with herbs like sage and parsley.
While the nostalgia may be strong, let’s all make a pact that no one is picking up a box of Stove Top stuffing this year, okay? The flavors that you can bring out by adding celery, carrot, onion, sage, leeks, garlic, apple, and more to stale, cubed bread (sourdough bread if you’re in the garden-to-table membership!!) are going to be so much fresher and healthier than anything you pour out of a box. I promise.
What do apples, pears, raspberries, and pumpkins all have in common? They grow locally in the midwest and taste delicious in pie. If you don’t have fruit trees in your kitchen garden, buy locally from an orchard or farm market for the freshest flavors.
And speaking of pumpkins, you can’t go wrong with pumpkin bread. If you’ve still got a freezer full of zucchini from summer, zucchini bread would be a great addition to the table!
There is something so homey about a skillet cake or crisp; it just screams Thanksgiving to me. I always use my Smithey cast iron skillet and stick to those fall fruits like apples, pears, and cranberries.
Garden-to-Table Natural Decor Details
You can bring your garden into your home in more ways than just on your plate. A Thanksgiving table is the perfect canvas for decorating with colorful gourds and pumpkins, succulents, apples and pears, fresh-cut flowers, and dried corn husks. And this year I’m excited to incorporate the eucalyptus I grew this past summer.
Even if you don’t have much left in your garden to incorporate on your table, you can source locally-made beeswax candles, find branches and leaves from your yard, and tie it all together with some burlap accents.
If decorating the table activates your creativity muscle, lean in and enjoy the process of creating a beautiful ambiance for your chosen guests. If decorating the table sounds like another torturous task to add to your to-do list, rest assured that you can create a lovely atmosphere with little work. My top tip is to think about your five senses and try to pick one element to enhance the experience of each sense. For example:
Sight: Add a vase of cut flowers, a bowl of fresh-picked seasonal fruit,
Taste: Well obviously, Thanksgiving dinner is going to be the highlight for taste, but think about offering a signature drink (batch cocktails or mocktails are the best for big groups!) or setting out a few appetizers to really impress
Smell: Light a few candles or put some Primally Pure essential oil in a diffuser 30 minutes before guests arrive
Touch: Set your table with real cloth napkins, make sure the thermostat is set at a comfortable temp (remember, your oven will add to the heat!), and don’t be shy about asking guests to pitch in in the kitchen so they can get their hands in on the action
Hearing: Throw on some calming ambient music, a specialized Spotify playlist, or your favorite record
If your holiday game plan still needs tweaking, you can check out my Holistic Holidays bonus guide for even more garden-to-table tips and tricks to create the perfect ambiance and menu for your holiday gatherings.