6 Fast and Healthy Dinners to Enjoy on Thanksgiving Eve
Many people spend the night before Thanksgiving preparing for the following day’s festivities and anticipating all of the hearty and heavy foods they’ll soon be indulging in. The last thing on many people’s minds is what to eat for their pre-Turkey Day dinner, but it’s an important meal to plan ahead for. You want to make sure you and your family eat a healthy dinner the night before that won’t take too long to make — this will prevent you from having to spend even more time in the kitchen, and you won’t go into the holiday already feeling as though you’ve wrecked your diet. To ensure you have a nutritious and easy dinner for Thanksgiving Eve, we’ve compiled six stress-free suppers you can feel good about eating.
1. Tomato and White Bean Soup With Shrimp and Extras
Bon Appétit recommends making a pre-Thanksgiving dinner that can be prepared in advance, like this Tomato and White Bean Soup With Shrimp and Extras. It’s filled with veggies and beans, creating a dish that will fill you up with good-for-you ingredients. We suggest making this recipe ahead of time, letting it cool completely, and freezing it in slightly flattened zip-top bags. When you’re ready to eat it, run the bags under water for a minute, place your soup in a pot, and quickly reheat it.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for garnish
- 1 slice thick-cut smoky bacon
- ½ large onion, chopped
- 1 medium piece celery, chopped
- 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary (optional)
- 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, a few tablespoons set aside
- 3 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans, 2 cans with their liquid and 1 can drained and set aside
- 1 cup homemade chicken stock or unsalted store-bought chicken broth, plus a little extra for thinning out
- Crusty baguette
- 1½ pounds cooked, chopped shrimp
- Freshy grated Parmesan
Directions: In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over low heat and add the bacon. Cook 8 to 10 minutes, until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crisp. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the onion, celery, carrot, salt and pepper, and rosemary, and cook until the vegetables are soft, about 8 minutes. Add the diced tomatoes, 2 cans of beans plus their liquid, and the stock into the pot. The liquid level should be just barely above beans and vegetables.
Bring to a simmer and cook until warmed through, about 10 minutes. Turn off the heat. Puree with a handheld immersion blender or in batches in the blender. Add more stock if necessary and season with more salt and pepper to taste. Mix in the reserved can of beans, reserved tomatoes, and the bacon and bring soup back up to a simmer. Garnish with extras and a drizzle of oil.
2. Tofu With Black Beans and Garlic
Black beans, tofu, and brown rice create a vegetarian-friendly dinner that is packed with fiber and fresh flavor. Recipe.com’s dish can easily be whipped up in less than 30 minutes, especially if you use an instant brown rice. If you want to make your own great tasting brown rice, we suggest following Martha Stewart’s instructions.
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 (14-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
⅓ cup sliced extra-firm tofu
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
Cooked brown rice
Directions: Heat oil in a nonstick skillet. Add beans and garlic; stir fry 2 minutes. Add tofu and ginger; cook, stirring frequently, 2 minutes. Stir in hoisin sauce. Serve over cooked brown rice.
3. De-Lightful Tuna Casserole
Taste of Home delivers a reduced-fat casserole that only requires 15 minutes of prep time. Water-packed tuna is the star of this dish: SFGate explains that it is low in fat and calories, and is a healthy source of protein and niacin, a B vitamin that is essential for a healthy digestive system, nerves, and skin. This recipe yields 5 servings, with each containing 329 calories, 8 grams of fat, and 23 grams of protein.
- 1 package (7 ounces) elbow macaroni
- 1 can (10¾ ounces) reduced-fat, reduced-sodium condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
- 1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
- 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese
- 1 cup fat-free milk
- 1 can (6 ounces) light water-packed tuna, drained and flaked
- 2 tablespoons diced pimientos
- 3 teaspoons dried minced onion
- 1 teaspoon ground mustard
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅓ cup crushed cornflakes
Directions: Cook macaroni according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the soup, mushrooms, cheese, milk, tuna, pimientos, onion, mustard, and salt. Drain macaroni; add to tuna mixture and mix well. Transfer to a 2-quart baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with cornflakes. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 to 30 minutes or until bubbly.
4. Spaghetti With Olives and Bread Crumbs
This Spaghetti With Olives and Bread Crumbs recipe is a light and simple pasta dish that is sure to satisfy any stomach. Food Network’s offering yields 4 to 6 servings and takes 20 minutes to make.
- 1 pound spaghetti
- ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ⅔ cup seasoned dried breadcrumbs
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt, plus more for seasoning
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
- ¾ cup pitted and roughly chopped black olives
- ¾ cup pitted and roughly chopped large green olives
- ⅓ cup freshly grated Parmesan
- ¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Directions: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender but still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the bread crumbs and ¼ teaspoon each of the sea salt and pepper. Stirring constantly, cook the breadcrumbs until golden brown, about 2 minutes.
Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water. Stir the pasta into the bread crumb mixture. Remove the pan from the heat and add the black and green olives. Add the Parmesan cheese and 3 tablespoons of the parsley. Season the pasta with salt and pepper, to taste. Gently toss to coat, adding reserved pasta water, if needed, to loosen the pasta. Transfer to a large serving bowl and garnish with the remaining parsley.
5. Spinach Salad With Warm Bacon Vinaigrette
Smitten Kitchen’s Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette is a great pre-Thanksgiving dinner that will leave you feeling healthy and energized. Red onions, mushrooms, a hard-boiled egg, and tiny bits of bacon are piled on top of leafy greens, ensuring you have a dish that is packed with vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants. The recipe yields 2 servings. If you’d like something to serve alongside it, we suggest making Laura in the Kitchen’s Homemade Baguette, which only requires 10 minutes of prep time.
- 4 ounces baby spinach
- 2 large white mushrooms, thinly sliced
- ¼ small or medium red onion, very thinly sliced
- 1 large egg, hard-boiled, chilled, peeled, and thinly sliced
- 4 pieces thick-sliced bacon (about 4 ounces), finely diced
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- ½ teaspoon honey or sugar
- ½ teaspoon smooth Dijon mustard
- Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Directions: Place spinach in a large, wide salad serving bowl. Scatter with mushrooms, red onion, and coins of hard-boiled egg. In a large skillet, fry bacon bits over medium-high heat until they’re brown and crisp, and have rendered their fat. Use a slotted spoon to scoop them out of the skillet and spread them on a piece of paper towel briefly before sprinkling them over the salad. Pour out all but 2 tablespoons of hot bacon fat from the skillet. Reheat over medium and quickly whisk in the red wine vinegar, honey, and Dijon. Pour over entire salad and season salt and pepper. Toss gently and serve hot.
6. Maple Root Vegetable Stir-Fry With Sesame
Vibrant fall veggies and a rich maple syrup create the perfect Thanksgiving Eve dinner. Food & Wine’s quick and nutritious recipe yields 8 servings and is vegetarian-friendly.
- ¼ cup canola oil
- ¾ pound Jerusalem artichokes, scrubbed and sliced ⅓-inch thick
- 2 carrots, cut into ¾-inch pieces
- 2 parsnips, cut into ¾-inch pieces
- ½ pound fingerling potatoes, halved lengthwise
- 1 cup fresh lotus root, peeled and sliced (about 5 ounces), optional
- ¼ cup pure maple syrup
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- A few drops of toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large ovenproof skillet, heat the canola oil until shimmering. Add the Jerusalem artichokes, carrots, parsnips, and potatoes and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast for about 20 minutes, until all the vegetables are tender. Add the sliced lotus root to the skillet along with the maple syrup and soy sauce. Cook the vegetables over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until the sauce becomes syrupy and the vegetables are glazed, about 8 minutes. Stir the sesame oil, sesame seeds, and sliced scallions into the vegetables and serve immediately.