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Save time, oven space with a no-cook feast

This Oct. 21 2013 phoshows cranberry orange relish Concord N.H. For Thanksgiving no-cook dishes can be sprinkled throughout meal. (AP

This Oct. 21, 2013 photo shows cranberry orange relish in Concord, N.H. For Thanksgiving, no-cook dishes can be sprinkled throughout the meal. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

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Updated: December 15, 2013 6:09AM



Every Thanksgiving presents the same challenge — how to juggle the turkey and the stuffing and the pie and all those sides in just one oven.

The answer? Elegant, no-cook dishes sprinkled throughout the meal.

So we polled a few Thanksgiving experts for their best no-cook ideas.

FIRST COURSE

White gazpacho

A twist on the traditional Spanish tomato soup, white gazpacho is made by pureeing blanched almonds with grapes, garlic, olive oil and day-old bread. “That’s one place to do something a little more unusual,” says Jack Bishop, editorial director of America’s Test Kitchen. Serve it in espresso cups and garnish it with toasted pumpkin seeds and a drizzle of pumpkin oil or sherry vinegar. Chopped apple and smoked paprika would also add a seasonal twist. The soup can be made two days in advance.

Crostini

Let’s agree that toasting bread isn’t cooking. Lightly toasted ovals of baguette topped with a variety of adventurous spreads make a lovely entry point to the holiday meal. Cookbook author Mark Bittman suggests topping your toasts with homemade beef tartar (be generous with the Worcestershire and capers) or cannellini beans pureed with olive oil, lemon and fresh rosemary. Goat cheese and candied nuts also make an easy topping.

Relish tray

Why not revive your grandmother’s boring old dish of carrots, celery and canned black olives? “A lot of people think of it as a first course nibbly thing, but if you have a really exciting relish tray you’ll find people dipping into it throughout the meal,” says Sarah Copeland, food director for Real Simple magazine. She suggests creating a relish tray from store-bought artisanal pickles — green beans, beets, mushrooms, caper berries — and bright, beautiful one-bites such as raw radishes. “It will look very elegant, but it took you 5 minutes,” she says.

SIDES

Brussels sprouts

Just when you thought there was nothing new to do with these tiny cabbage heads. Bishop suggests dressing raw shredded sprouts with lemon juice, Dijon mustard and minced garlic. Garnish them with toasted pine nuts and pecorino cheese.

Broccoli

Though we always think of it grilled or steamed, broccoli is another veg that doesn’t need cooking. Instead, says Copeland, thinly slice it and toss it with slivered mushrooms and red onion. A dressing of olive oil, cider vinegar, soy sauce, garlic and a mess of fresh herbs — dill or basil or tarragon or all of the above — ties together the flavors. For the best flavor, she says, let it marinate overnight.

Squash

Chef Chris Pandel, of Chicago restaurants The Bristol and Balena, plays off the squash’s true status as a fruit by serving it raw. Strip the squash into ribbons using a vegetable peeler, he says, then salt them and let them sit overnight in the refrigerator. Drain the water, then pile the ribbons onto a bed of endive. Sprinkle with toasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds (hulled), pomegranate seeds and lots of fresh mint and basil. A dressing of yogurt, ground cumin and coriander, cayenne, honey and lemon juice wakes up the whole thing.

Cranberry sauce

You don’t need to resort to a can to have no-cook cranberry sauce. On the back of just about every bag of fresh cranberries, you’ll find the formula for cranberry relish: berries, sugar, a whole orange and a food processor. Bishop suggests upscaling the old standby with chopped apple and ground ginger.

DESSERT

No-cook pumpkin “cheesecake” — that is, cream cheese and pumpkin puree poured into a store-bought graham cracker crust — is a traditional oven-free Thanksgiving dessert.



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