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Italian Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas

Additions to the Feast


From The Joy of Growing Up Italian: "When it came to food, it always amazed me that my American friends and classmates only ate turkey on Thanksgiving or Christmas. Or rather, they only ate turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce. Now we ITALIANS, we also had turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce, but, only after we had finished the Antipasto, Chicken Soup with Escarole, Lasagne, Meatballs, Braciole, Salad and whatever else Mama thought might be appropriate..."

Crostini Toscani

Crostini are thin slices of toasted bread spread with a paté, the most popular of which is made with chicken livers and sage. Even those who don't like liver, and I speak from experience, gobble them up.

Mintestra Maritata, or Wedding Soup

One of the most classic Neapolitan soups, made with greens and meat, or meatballs, depending upon your preference. Carolà Francesconi says it may even go back to the Romans.


Lasagna is a universe rather than a recipe, and every region in Italy has its variations on the theme. This link leads to lasagna alla Bolognese, made with béchamel sauce, meat sauce, and lots of grated Parmigiano. Northern comfort food, in short.


A different, more southerly lasagna, made with tomato sauce and ricotta, in addition to meat. It's drawn from "Preserving our Italian Heritage," a wonderful recipe collection assembled by Rose Marie Boniello for the Sons of Italy.

Ribollita or Minestra di Pane

Ribollita is a Tuscan vegetable soup made with black leaf kale and thickened with quite a bit of stale bread, and though this may not sound like much, it's one of those dishes that, when well made, will draw a huge crowd. One can never make too much, and people keep asking for more.

Carne da Galera, Jailhouse Meat

This is an old Tuscan recipe for pot-roasting pork or beef, which uses the less noble cuts that tended to spoil quickly (and were thus given to inmates), and employs vinegar to cover any off smells. With refrigeration you won't have them, and the results are very good.

Cappone in Salmi'

This is a Piemontese stewed chicken that is a nice change of pace from the classic tomatoey chicken cacciatore. It's also elegant, and won't occupy the oven at the last minute.

Baked Sweetpotatoes with Lime and Ginger

This recipe has nothing to do with Italy, but I often enjoyed Jack Seelye's cooking. He says, "I've been annoyed that it is hard to find candied orange or lemon zest in local stores, except at Christmas for fruitcakes. Recently I had a hard time finding crystallized ginger. But since I have a supply, I used it yesterday in my baked sweet potato with lime recipe. It was the hit of Thanksgiving dinner!"

Zuppa Inglese

Zuppa Inglese is an English trifle, i.e. a creamy pudding interlayered with cake. It's perfect for those who don't like apple pie, and improves with age, so you can make it a day or two ahead.

White or Black (Chocolate) Truffles

These are a wonderful way to bring a meal to a close, tasty morsels to enjoy with coffee. Happy Thanksgiving!

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