As Thanksgiving approaches, many families will be planning a feast that has long been viewed as traditionally American, including turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. Others, however, will be embracing a more multicultural menu, which makes sense when you consider that the United States has a larger share of immigrants than any other country in the world.
Did you know that the U.S. foreign-born population reached a record 44.8 million in 2018? Immigrants today account for 13.7% of the U.S. population, nearly triple the share (4.8%) in 1970.1 In fact, almost every country in the world is represented among U.S. immigrants, according to the Pew Research Center.
This growing cultural diversity is changing what is thought to be traditionally American when it comes to holidays like Thanksgiving, which is a positive development when you consider the vital connection between cuisine, ethnicity and culture. If you like the idea of embracing flavors from around the world, check out these ideas to diversify your Thanksgiving feast.
Ponder these tips to infuse traditional Thanksgiving dishes with global flavors:
To incorporate Indian flavors to this beloved dish, add a bit of curry powder, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon and black pepper. Or you can create a Mediterranean twist by blending in some basil pesto, sundried tomatoes, capers, artichoke hearts, Kalamata olives or a combination.
This standard side lends well to the addition of cultural flavors. Try a Mexican update with fresh cilantro, oregano and garlic, or add Asian appeal with minced fresh ginger, nama shoyu and black sesame seeds. Sautéed bell pepper, cumin, and oregano suggest a taste of Cuba, while herbs de Provence add French flair.
To impart a taste of India to this Thanksgiving favorite, spike it with mango chutney and a pinch of turmeric, add a twist of Thai with coconut, minced ginger and lime, or incorporate some island flavor with this cranberry-macadamia relish.
Incorporate sides from other cultures
Side dishes offer a great way to culturally expand an otherwise traditional Thanksgiving menu. For example:
- Vegan Matcha Spinach Pesto Pasta
- Grilled Brie with Balsamic Cherry Sauce
- Argentinian Chimichurri Sauce with Cauliflower Steaks
- Tandoori Masala Red Pepper Pasta
- Mushroom and Turmeric Chickpea “Rice”
- Middle Eastern Baked Red Lentil Falafel with Lemon-Herb Tahini Dipping Sauce
- Pomegranate-Apple Salad with Tofu Feta
- Acorn Squash-Quinoa Salad with Zesty Balsamic Glaze
Get savvy with sauces
Perhaps the easiest way to infuse a standard Thanksgiving menu with ethnic flair is to offer interesting sauces at the table in little bowls labeled for guests. Fun options include:
- Gaucho Ranch Chimichurri Sauce
- Moroccan Tapenade
- Sesame-Ginger Sauce
- Vidalia Onion Fig Sauce
- Vietnamese Coconut Lime Curry Sauce
- Mango Chutney
- Fig and Walnut Butter
Try a ”soup bar”
Another cool way to diversity your feast is to add a soup array that reflects multicultural flavors. Soup offers both elegance and soothing comfort, strikes a welcoming note, and it’s fully make-ahead. Add fun garnishes too, like sliced green onions, fresh basil, mint or cilantro, parmesan & herb croutons, hemp seeds, dried cranberries, tamari pumpkin seeds, garlic onion pistachios, etc. Consider these globally inspired recipes:
- Vegan French Onion Soup
- Dairy-Free Irish Potato Soup
- Sunshine Superfood Veggie Soup
- Thai Coconut Chicken Soup
- Golden Miso Soup with Turmeric & Kale
- Creamy Vegan Broccoli Cheese Soup
Delight with dessert
For many people, dessert is the highlight of any feast, and a beautifully diverse array is sure to enchant your guests. Encourage people to bring a favorite treat to share. Tempting options include:
- Chocolate Dipped Matcha Bites
- Vegan Coconut Macaroons
- Pumpkin Sunflower-Butter Fudge
- Orange-Ghee Poundcake
- Vegan Pumpkin Cheezecake with Pecan Cookie Crust
- Pumpkin Seed-Caramel Brittle
- Coconut Panna Cotta with Pomegranate-Cherry Gelée
Remember, as you lay your plans, you can minimize stress and maximize enjoyment by collaborating with family and friends. And of course, the heart of your “feast” is sharing time in gratitude with those you love. Cheers!