Just the two of us: cooking light for Thanksgiving

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I have vivid memories of our first Thanksgiving. We had lived in Chicago for about six months, and by then we were fully immersed into the realities of our new home country and its culture and traditions. I was very excited that we were about to spend our first Thanksgiving, and I did a lot of shopping to mark the occasion. I bought and roasted a whole turkey, which we had for lunch and dinner for a good few days. Then, I made other dishes and forgot about the half-eaten turkey. Two weeks later, the turkey was still in the fridge, and I found it and threw it away. I was so ashamed at the waste of half a cooked turkey! In retrospect, it was all my fault. I bought a whole turkey when I should have known better.

Back in the UK I used to make roast chicken from time to time, and we had the same problem: the chickens were too big for us and we couldn’t eat them fast enough, so oftentimes we had to throw them away. To prevent further waste, I have devised the recipe below, which is not only light, but also easy to make. This is a recipe for those of us who celebrate Thanksgiving “on the light side,” who don’t need to cook turkey in large quantities, yet still want to pay homage to Thanksgiving and to the Thanksgiving spirit.

This is also a recipe for people who are in a rush and who don’t have a lot of time to cook.  I really wish I had more time to plan Thanksgiving. I wish the days were longer, and time stopped from its maddening rush and gave me the chance to cherish each moment spent cooking and writing. As things stand now, however, this is not going to happen. My life is like a carousel in motion, and I have many friends and acquaintances who are in the same situation. We have so much to do, and so little time. If you are short of time but still want to cook an easy, healthy and tasty turkey dish for your family, then this recipe is the way to go.

Ingredients

1 turkey breast (the one I bought weighed 4.2lb)

2 bunches tomatoes on the vine

2 orange bell peppers

2 green bell peppers

1 medium red onion (not pictured)

1 lemon

1/4 stick of butter

1lb turkey or chicken broth (optional)

Olive oil

Salt and pepper (to taste)

Fresh parsley, for decoration

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Preheat the oven to 375F.

Carve the turkey breast using a sharp knife, cutting alongside the breastbone. I usually get 4 breast pieces out of the turkey breast, and I use the remaining meat and the carcass to make turkey broth or turkey soup (this way, nothing goes to waste).

Place the turkey breasts in a roasting pan. Take one orange bell pepper and one green bell pepper, wash them, cut them into 1/8’s, and place them in-between the turkey breasts. Cut the lemon into wedges and add it to the pan. Add a square of butter on top of every turkey breast, and then sprinkle salt and pepper over them. Add the turkey/chicken broth (I didn’t have any available, so I used plain water). Put the pan in the preheated oven and cook the dish for 40 minutes.

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Meanwhile, take the two remaining bell peppers, wash them, dry them with a paper towel, and cut them into 1/8’s. Place the peppers in an oven dish. Wash and pat dry the tomatoes, and add them to the dish. I usually add red onions too, but initially I thought I did not have any. Upon further investigation I found one medium red onion in my pantry, so I cut it into wedges and added it to the mix. Liberally apply olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper on the vegetables. Put the veggies in the oven (I usually place them next to the turkey breasts) to roast for one hour, or until they have started to caramelize and have released a good amount of natural juices.

This is how the veggies look like before “oven time”…

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…And here they are, after one hour of roasting:

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The final step is to unite the veggies with the meat. Take one turkey breast and put it on a plate. Add some of the roasted veggies, making sure to pick veggies of various colors and shapes. Add sauce from the roasting pan. I also add some of the sauce released by the veggies – it has a sweet, almost caramelly taste and consistency, which complements the flavor of the turkey beautifully. Finish off with fresh chopped parsley.

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This dish has a rustic look and stays true to itself and its components, allowing both the meat and the veggies to shine through. The natural veggie juices unite the ingredients and make this dish cohesive, while the fresh chopped parsley adds to its overall freshness and lightness. In the midst of a modern, oftentimes chaotic life, this diverse mix of ingredients serves a higher purpose: to remind us to be thankful for what we have, and to appreciate the gifts and beauty of the present.

Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving ! 🙂


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