Recipes for a Mediterranean Thanksgiving

For Thanksgiving, consider a Mediterranean feast.

If you’ve never considered having a Mediterranean Thanksgiving, maybe you should.

The Mediterranean eating regimen — which emphasizes non-processed fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and lean protein sources, including eggs, fish and fowl — is an excellent framework for a healthy and delicious Thanksgiving feast, says Holly Herrington, an advanced clinical dietitian with the Digestive Health Center at Northwestern Medicine.

“It’s really just a healthy, plant-based diet,” Herrington says. Several Thanksgiving staples — including vegetable dishes and the traditional roast turkey — can fit easily into the Mediterranean approach.

Here are seven Mediterranean-friendly dishes:

— Roast turkey.

— Heart-healthy gravy.

— Roasted Brussels sprouts.

— Roasted sweet potatoes.

— Mezze platter.

— Greek-style roasted potatoes.

— Baked apples or pears with crumble.

1. Roast turkey

This Thanksgiving staple is a good source of lean protein. “The breast is particularly lean,” Herrington says. “It’s lower in calories and saturated fat.” Start your meal by filling up on lean proteins like the turkey breast to help you feel fuller and decrease your intake of less-healthy options. Dark turkey meat is a good option too, but keep in mind it has more saturated fat. Instead of gravy, use the natural juice the bird was basted in to keep your turkey moist. If you opt for gravy, consider using one made with olive oil or canola oil rather than butter.


— A 10- to 12-pound turkey.

— A quarter-cup of fresh herbs, like thyme, rosemary, sage and oregano.

— 2 tablespoons of canola oil, olive oil or grapeseed oil.

— 1 teaspoon each of salt and freshly ground pepper.

— 3 cups of water (or stock), more if necessary.

— 1 ½ cups of sliced onion, apple, lemon or orange, cut into two-inch pieces.

Mix minced herbs, oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Rub the herb mixture all over the turkey, under the skin and onto the breast meat. Place onions, apples, lemon or orange and half the herb into the cavity. Add 3 cups of water and any remaining herbs in the pan. Roast the turkey as directed.

2. Heart-healthy gravy

For a Mediterranean-friendly alternative to traditional gravy, use one that’s made with olive oil or canola oil instead of butter, Herrington says. The alternative gravy will be tasty and healthier for your ticker.


— 1 cup of turkey drippings from the pan.

— 4 cups of unsalted stock chicken or turkey.

— 2 garlic cloves, minced.

— 2 tablespoons of fresh sage, finely chopped.

— 2 tablespoons of fresh thyme leaves.

— 1 cup skim or reduced-fat milk, or a non-dairy alternative.

— ¼ cup of whole wheat flour, or gluten-free flour.

In a saucepan, combine stock, garlic, sage and thyme and bring to a simmer. Continue to simmer until the stock is reduced to about 3 cups. While the stock is simmering, combine milk and flour in a small bowl and mix. Add this mixture into the stock, stirring slowly. Continue to simmer and stir frequently for about 3 to 5 minutes, until the stock thickens.

3. Roasted Brussels sprouts

This green vegetable is full of vitamins and minerals and has plenty of fiber, Herrington says. You can saute Brussels sprouts in canola oil, olive oil or grapeseed oil, all of which are healthier for your heart than butter. Add pepitas, pecans or walnuts for crunchiness.


— 1 pound of Brussels sprouts, the outer leaves removed and washed.

— 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil.

— 2 cloves of garlic, minced.

— 1 shallot, minced.

— Salt and ground pepper.

— 1/2 cup of nuts (pepitas, walnuts, pecans) optional.

In a saute pan, heat olive oil. Add shallots and saute about 2 minutes. Add Brussels sprouts, salt and pepper and saute on medium-low for about 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to 350-degree oven to continue cooking until crispy. If you want some crunch, remove from the oven and toss in nuts.

4. Roasted sweet potatoes

So long as you don’t slather them with butter, brown sugar or marshmallows, sweet potatoes are a great Mediterranean-style side dish full of vitamins, Herrington says. Sweet potatoes have plenty of vitamin C, vitamin D, calcium and magnesium.


— 1 pound of sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed into 1-inch pieces.

— 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil.

Salt and black pepper.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. On a large baking sheet, toss sweet potatoes with oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast until tender.

5. Mezze platter

A mezze platter can be an easy, fun and family-friendly Mediterranean pre-meal dish that utilizes a variety of fruits, vegetables and dips, says Lisa Jones, a registered dietitian based in Philadelphia.

A mezze platter could include an array of dishes, including:

— Figs.

— Olives.

— Feta cheese.

— Pita chips.

— Red hummus dip.

— Hummus.

— Veggie sticks.

6. Greek-style roasted potatoes

For a tasty, Mediterranean alternative to mashed potatoes, try Greek-style roasted potatoes, Jones says. “They are delicious and you can even add lemon or paprika depending on how you want them to taste,” she says.

— 3 pounds of potatoes.

— 1/3 cup of olive oil.

— 2 lemons (optional).

— 1 teaspoon paprika (optional).

— 2 teaspoons of salt.

— 1 teaspoon of oregano.

— 1/2 teaspoon of black ground pepper.

— 1 cup of chicken broth for each pound of potatoes.

Start by cutting the potatoes into thick wedges and placing them in a bowl. Toss with olive oil and add lemon juice (if desired) to cover the wedges. Season potatoes with paprika (if desired) as well as salt, oregano and black pepper. Toss and place in a single layer on a 2 inch-deep pan with chicken broth over the potatoes. Put the potatoes in the oven and roast them for 40 minutes at 400 degrees. Turn them after about 20 minutes.

7. Baked apples or pears with crumble

For a healthy and easy-to-make dessert, try baked apples or pears, Herrington suggests.

— Large apples or pears, cut in half.

— 1 tablespoon of olive oil butter, melted, or olive oil.

— 2 tablespoons of whole wheat or gluten-free flour.

— 1 tablespoon of quick oats.

— 1 tablespoon of nuts.

— A pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut apples or pears in half and remove core and seeds. In a small bowl combine butter, brown sugar, flour, oats, nuts, cinnamon and nutmeg. Spoon the concoction on top of the apple halves and sprinkle them with cinnamon. Place on a cookie sheet and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Serve warm with a scoop of ice cream if desired.

To recap, here are seven Mediterranean-style recipes for Thanksgiving:

— Roast turkey.

— Heart-healthy gray.

— Roasted Brussels sprouts.

— Roasted sweet potatoes.

— Mezze platter.

— Greek-style roasted potatoes.

— Baked apples or pears with crumble.

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