Dreaming of a Green Thanksgiving

Categories: Healthy Eating

By Zachary Neveu, Keene State College Dietetic Intern

When you think of Thanksgiving what foods come to mind? Close your eyes for just a second and picture the Thanksgiving Day spread: Turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce and delicious stuffing. Sounds like you’re ready for a delicious balanced meal, but wait … where are all the green vegetables?

Besides green beans and maybe some Brussels sprouts, we don’t see a lot of green vegetables at the table. So while the leaves are changing brown for the fall, how about turning your meals — including your Thanksgiving feast — a little bit greener?

Green beans and Brussels sprouts are the two most obvious Thanksgiving choices — but this year, forget those old standbys and try something new, such as kale, broccoli rabe, and maybe even butter lettuce.


You may be unfamiliar with broccoli rabe (also called rapini) is a green cruciferous vegetable. Cruciferous vegetables are often called “super vegetables” because they are packed with vitamin A, vitamin C, folic acid, magnesium and many more nutrients — while still being very low in calories. Broccoli rabe as, opposed to broccoli, has a distinct bitter taste that can be sweetened up with different cooking methods and spices. Below is a recipe for broccoli rabe paired with roasted garlic and red pepper flakes for a sweet and spicy flavor.

Broccoli Rabe with Roasted Garlic

Johnson & Wales University Recipe Database

Number of Servings: 10
Serving Size: 4 ounces

Garlic 1 head
Olive oil As needed
Salt As needed

Broccoli rabe 3 bunches
Olive oil ½ Tablespoon
Red pepper flakes 1 teaspoon
Salt, kosher 1 teaspoon
Black pepper, ground 1/8 teaspoon
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated ½ cup

  1. Method of Preparation:
    Gather all equipment and ingredients. Preheat an oven to 350° F.
  2. Peel the outer papery layer of the whole garlic. Cut off ½ of the top. Place the garlic on a 6-inch square of foil. Drizzle with olive oil and a little bit of salt. Wrap up the garlic in the foil and lightly twist the top to make it airtight. Place the package of garlic in the oven at 350° F and cook for about 40 minutes. You will be able to smell the garlic when it is done. Allow it to cool and then squeeze the cloves out of the head of garlic, mashed them and reserve them for later.
  3. While the garlic is cooking, trim ½ inch from the bottom of the broccoli rabe, lighting peel the thicker or dead leaves. Wash the rabe in cold water at least twice and allow to drain well in a colander.
  4. Heat a large pot of salted water to a boil. Prepare an equal size bowl of ice water. Add in the broccoli rabe and cook for about two to three minutes. After cooking remove the broccoli rabe and add it to the cold water to cool it down. After it is cool drain it well in a colander.
  5. Add the olive oil to a large sauté pan. Heat the oil over low heat, add the red pepper flakes and lightly toast them. Once the red pepper flakes are starting to flavor the oil, turn up the heat to medium and add the broccoli rabe. Add the salt and pepper to the rabe while stirring gently.
  6. Add the mashed garlic and continue to sauté about 1-2 minutes or until a fork can be easily inserted into the rabe. The broccoli rabe should be very tender when completed.
  7. To finish remove from the pan and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.


The recipe below calls for both Bibb and Boston lettuce, which are two varieties of butter lettuce. You may have have seen these terms used interchangeably at the market. Both Bibb and Boston lettuce look very similar except that Bibb lettuce is a little bit smaller. If you can only find one of these at your local market, don’t worry, any variety of butter lettuce will work. This recipe also features pomegranates and apples, both high in antioxidants and fiber. The pumpkin seed dressing contains a lot of omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids for heart health. It doesn’t get much more “New England autumn” than that! (LINK TO RECIPE ON SEPARATE PAGE?)

Butter Lettuce and Pomegranate Salad with Pumpkin Seed Dressing

Recipe created by Zachary Neveu

Number of Servings: 6

Boston lettuce 1 head
Bibb lettuce 1 head
Carrots, shredded ½ cup
Tomatoes, diced small 1 cup
Apple, any variety, cut into slices 1 each
Pomegranate seeds, fresh 1 cup (About 1 pomegranate)

Pumpkin seed oil 2 Tablespoons
Honey 2 Tablespoons
Shallot, peeled, minced 1 each
Apple cider vinegar 2 Tablespoons

Blue cheese, crumbled ½ cup
Roasted pumpkin seeds (Optional) ½ cup

Method of Preparation:

  1. Gather all equipment and ingredients.
  2. Start by cutting the lettuce into thin ribbon-like strips. Shred the carrots on a cheese grater; cut the tomatoes and apple. Remove the seeds from the pomegranate.
  3. In a small bowl add the pumpkin seed oil and honey. Add the shallots to this mixture. Add the apple cider vinegar in a very slow drizzle while stirring vigorously or use an emulsion blender if available.
  4. Add the lettuce, carrots, tomatoes and apple to a bowl. Add the pomegranate seeds on top and then drizzle the dressing across the whole salad. Add the blue cheese and pumpkin seeds (if desired) as a garnish.


This final recipe is for a hearty white bean and kale stew. What kale lacks in extravagance it makes up for in deliciousness. Kale is a leafy green vegetable that you can find at just about any market now. Kale is high in vitamin A and C as well a great low calorie source of iron. Make sure you rinse the kale in cold water and dry it well before cooking. Before you cook the kale, remove the rib in the middle, which you can do by ripping the leaves off the stem manually by grabbing and twisting. (LINK TO RECIPE ON SEPARATE PAGE?)

White Bean and Kale Stew

Recipe created by Zachary Neveu

Number of Servings: 10

Red potatoes, cut into ½ inch chunks 3 cups (or about 1 pound)
Water 2 quarts

Olive oil/Olive oil blend. 1 Tablespoon
Garlic, peeled, minced 2 cloves
Onions, white, diced small 2 large onions
Celery, diced small 2 stalks
Kale, washed, stems removed, leafs picked off 1 bunch
Salt, kosher 2 Tablespoon
Black pepper, ground 1 teaspoon
Cayenne pepper, ground ½ teaspoon

Vegetable stock 3 quarts
White beans, canned, rinsed 14-16 ounce can
Thyme, fresh, chopped 2 Tablespoons
Oregano, fresh, chopped 2 Tablespoons

Heavy cream ½ cup
Method of Preparation:

  1. Gather all equipment and ingredients.
  2. Place two quarts of cold water in a pot with 1 tablespoon of salt. Place cut red potatoes in the cold water. Set the heat to high.
  3. When the water starts to boil set a timer for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes check with a fork to see if the potatoes are tender, do this by inserting a fork into the potatoes, if it goes through with almost no pressure they are ready. Remove them from the pot into a strainer and rinse with cold water.
  4. Add the olive oil to a large cooking pot. Heat the oil for a minute over medium heat. Once the oil is warm add the garlic, onion and celery. Cook the vegetables over medium heat until you can smell them and they are beginning to turn translucent. Add the kale to the mixture and stir it to coat kale with the remainder of oil.
  5. Keep stirring the kale until it starts to darken. Add a small pinch of the salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper to the vegetables.
    Once the kale has cooked down by about half add the vegetable stock, beans, potatoes, herbs and the rest of the salt and pepper.
  6. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat and then reduce to a simmer, simmer for about 10 minutes over low to medium heat.
  7. To finish add the heavy cream while stirring and then remove from heat.