A menu for a downsized Thanksgiving

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By Linda Morel

Although many families traditionally celebrate Thanksgiving with a crowd, this year the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to change all that. Downsizing will be the new normal.
Because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention categorizes large indoor gatherings as high-risk activities, fewer people will be flying across the country or even driving across town to join extended family and friends. And though families will miss loved ones who can’t celebrate with them, an intimate dinner is an opportunity to switch things up and serve foods that are too difficult to make for a larger group.

Dry rub for roasted turkey

Serves 6-8

  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1½ teaspoons rosemary
  • 1½ teaspoons thyme
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder
  • 12-pound turkey
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Nonstick vegetable spray

Combine the salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme, oregano, onion powder, garlic powder and chili powder in a small bowl.

Rinse the turkey under cold water, inside and out. Pat it dry with paper towels. Drizzle olive oil over the turkey and, with your fingers, coat the turkey skin. Sprinkle the spices on the turkey, including the cavity. Then rub in the spices. Lightly cover the turkey with aluminum foil and refrigerate for 3-6 hours before roasting.

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Set up a roasting pan with a rack. Spray the rack with nonstick spray. Place turkey on the rack and roast it, uncovered, for 3 hours, or until the juices run clear, not pink, at the bone. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh, near the bone, should read 180 degrees F. Remove the turkey from the oven and let it rest on a cutting board for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing.

Caramelized shallots and haricots verts (french green beans)

Serves 6-8

  • 1½ pounds haricots verts
  • 2 shallots
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, or more if needed
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest

Rinse the haricots verts in a colander under cold water. Drain them on paper towels. Reserve.

Peel the shallots, then cut them into slices and separate them into rings.

In a large skillet, drizzle in olive oil and heat over a medium flame until warm. Add the shallot rings and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Stir until softened and fragrant.

Add the haricots verts and stir to coat them with oil. Sauté until the haricots verts are slightly wilted but still green and the shallots are caramelized. Add more oil at any time, if needed. Check the salt, and add more if needed. Move it to an attractive serving bowl and sprinkle with lemon zest. Serve immediately.

Pear crisp

Serves 6-8

Equipment: 7-inch-by-11-inch ovenproof pan, such as Pyrex

Pear Layer

  • Nonstick vegetable spray
  • 8 pears, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon cardamom
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt

Coat an ovenproof pan with nonstick spray. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the pears in a large bowl. Add the lemon juice, spices, sugar and salt. Mix gently with a wooden spoon. Move the pear mixture to the prepared pan. Sprinkle the topping below over the pears.


  • ½ cup unsalted butter or dairy-free
  • margarine at room temperature
  • 1¼ cups blanched almonds, chopped
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ¾ cup flour

Place the topping ingredients in a bowl and mix with a fork until crumbly. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the pears. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the pears bubble and the topping turns golden and crunchy. Cool to warm and serve. The recipe can be reheated.

Linda Morel is a food columnist. This originally appeared in the Jewish Exponent, an affiliated publication of the Baltimore Jewish Times.

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