Julia Child’s Thanksgiving dinners were not her best meals. “Her food was very good but very simple, and she used very little for seasoning except for salt and pepper,” her nephew Julian said. “You wouldn’t necessarily walk away thinking that was the best meal you ever had.”

Thanksgiving dinner is tough one. We are often cooking too many dishes for more people than we are used to cooking for, and feeling the pressure of tradition.

How does one make a GREAT Thanksgiving dinner? For starters:

  • Don’t try to do it all yourself; assign responsibility to others
  • Make very simple dishes with GREAT ingredients (F. Oliver’s products are perfect for this!)
  • Do as much as possible ahead of time. You can actually start NOW
  • If something doesn’t turn out, so what.

I will be bringing a salad for 40 people. It needs to travel well and be easily prepared and plated in a kitchen that is already in a high state of chaos. Ina Garten’s foolproof recipes to the rescue, only mine needs to be even more foolproof than hers (check out her recipe here).

I will be simplifying as follows: cutting the number of vinaigrette ingredients by simply mixing F. Oliver’s Fresh Pressed Blood Orange EVOO with Champagne Wine Vinegar and salt and pepper, roasting the walnuts over the weekend, and preparing everything except the apple the day before; transporting in well sealed plastic bags. Done.

Will it be my best dish ever? No, but it will be a fresh, flavorful, addition to our feast. Bon Appetit and Happy Thanksgiving!