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Thanksgiving menu: Cooking for a party of two

You don’t need to be expecting a big crowd to eat well on Thanksgiving. These recipes are perfect for a party of two.

More Thanksgiving menus: Make ahead | Last minute | Simple | With a twist | Americana | Vegetarian | Vegan | Calorie conscious | WaPo Favorites

Broccolini Salad With Gorgonzola and Pistachios

Green, crunch, piquancy: This side dish has it all. Broccolini is a nice vegetable to cook for two, because one bunch is adequate. This is best made and dressed just before it is served.

  • 1 bunch (7 to 8 ounces) broccolini
  • 1 teaspoon minced shallot
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon peanut or grapeseed oil
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 ounce aged gorgonzola (may substitute other firm blue cheese)
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped salted pistachios

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.

Wash the Broccolini. Cut off and discard the tough ends of the stalks. Transfer to the boiling water and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until al dente, depending on the size of the stalks. Drain, and run under cold running water until cool. Blot dry and transfer to a shallow bowl.

Whisk together the shallot, mustard, lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper to taste in a small bowl. Pour over the Broccolini and toss to coat evenly.

Arrange the Broccolini on a serving dish, with the heads facing in the same direction. Crumble the cheese over the midsection. Just before serving, sprinkle with the pistachios.

Crab Salad on Kohlrabi

A minuscule amount of mayonnaise is just enough to bind the sweet-crunchy elements here. If you aren’t lucky enough to find kohlrabi, substitute Belgian endive leaves. Or crackers.

  • 8 ounces lump crabmeat, picked over to remove any shells or cartilage
  • 1 lime, cut crosswise in half
  • 1/4 cup minced red bell pepper
  • 2 teaspoons minced jalapeño pepper, or to taste
  • 3 tablespoons chopped chives
  • 1 tablespoon regular or low-fat mayonnaise (do not use nonfat)
  • Sea salt
  • 2 small-to-medium kohlrabi, peeled, cored and cut into thin slices (may substitute Belgian endive or celery root; see headnote)

Place the crab in a mixing bowl and squeeze the juice from the lime halves (1 to 2 tablespoons) over it; toss to incorporate. Add the red bell pepper, jalapeno and chives; mix well, then gently fold in the mayonnaise. Season with salt to taste.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to blend.

Divide the kohlrabi slices between individual plates. Mound equal amounts of the crab mixture on the kohlrabi.

Serve immediately.

Apple Cider-Glazed Turkey Kebabs

This recipe uses turkey breast, marinated in a quickly assembled mixture of spices and herbs. The glaze is a finishing touch that lends a hint of sweetness and gives the kebabs a lovely mahogany finish.

SERVINGS: Makes six kebabs


  • 1 tablespoon mild olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed mixed dried herbs, such as a combination of oregano, parsley, chives, thyme and/or fines herbes
  • 1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless turkey breast or turkey breast tenderloins, cut into 1-inch cubes


  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened, fresh apple cider
  • 1/2 cup homemade or no-salt-added chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons light brown sugar
  • Kosher salt

For the kebabs: Whisk together the oil, vinegar, brown sugar, salt, pepper, nutmeg, ginger and herbs in a medium bowl. Add the turkey pieces and stir to coat. Cover with plastic wrap; marinate for 30 minutes at room temperature or for at least 2 hours in the refrigerator.

For the glaze: Combine the apple cider, broth, brown sugar and a pinch of salt in a small skillet or saute pan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, adjusting the heat as needed to maintain a steady boil, until the liquid has reduced just to the consistency of light syrup. Watch closely to avoid over-reducing. Remove from the heat.

Prepare the grill for direct heat. If using a gas grill, preheat to medium-high (450 degrees). If using a charcoal grill, light the charcoal; when the coals are ready, distribute them evenly over the cooking area. For a medium-hot fire, you should be able to hold your hand about 6 inches above the coals for 4 or 5 seconds. Grease the grill grate with cooking oil spray and place it on the grill. Have ready a spray water bottle for taming any flames.

Thread the turkey onto the soaked skewers. If desired, place two pieces of heavy-duty aluminum foil on the grill to keep the ends of the skewers from burning. Transfer to the grill; close the lid and cook for about 4 minutes, until the kebabs have grill marks.

Use tongs to turn over the skewers. Brush the cooked side of kebabs with half of the glaze. Close the grill lid and cook for 4 minutes. Uncover and turn the skewers again, brushing the second side of the kebabs with the remaining glaze and moving the kebabs to a cool section of the grill if they are browning too fast. Close the lid and cook for 2 minutes. The turkey is done when an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the turkey registers 165 degrees.

Rest the kebabs 5 minutes before serving.

Mashed Potatoes With Tuscan Kale

The dark ribbons of kale running through these mashed potatoes make the dish holiday-worthy.

  • 4 Tuscan kale leaves (also called Lacinato or dinosaur kale), washed
  • 2 large russet or idaho potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 large cloves garlic, peeled and cut into quarters
  • Sea salt
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup heavy cream, warmed
  • 1/8 teaspoon Aleppo pepper (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Use a sharp knife or scissors to remove the tough kale stems; discard them. Cut the leaves in half crosswise.

Combine the potatoes and garlic in a medium saucepan and add cold water to cover. Add a big pinch of salt and bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat. Add the kale leaves and cook until they are tender, about 5 minutes, then remove them with tongs or a slotted spoon and drain well. Cook the potatoes and garlic for 25 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.

Meanwhile, squeeze the kale dry and finely chop it. Combine the cream (to taste) and Aleppo pepper, if desired, in a small skillet over medium-low heat until warmed through.

Drain the cooked potatoes and garlic well; return them to the pot. Add the butter and begin to mash, then gradually add the warm cream while mashing, using enough of it to achieve the proper consistency. Season with salt to taste.

Serve warm.

Cranberry-Almond Crisp

This is a nice and easy way to end a Thanksgiving meal for two, and it fulfills any craving for cranberries that was unmet by the main course and sides.

  • 1/3 cup blanched, slivered almonds
  • 6 tablespoons cool unsalted butter
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries, picked over, washed and dried
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • Fat pinch sea salt
  • Whipped cream, for serving (optional)

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Spread the almonds in a baking dish. Toast for about 10 minutes, until crisp and very lightly browned. Let cool, then coarsely chop.

Increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Use 1 tablespoon of the butter to grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch ovenproof skillet.

Combine the cranberries, ginger and granulated sugar in a bowl and toss to mix. Distribute evenly in the bottom of the skillet.

Cut the remaining 5 tablespoons of butter into small pieces. Combine them with the flour, brown sugar, almonds, cinnamon, cloves and salt in a medium bowl; mix thoroughly, then crumble evenly over the cranberries. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the topping is crisp and the cranberries have softened; some will have burst.

Serve warm or at room temperature, with whipped cream, if desired.