By Chef Robin White


thanksgiving table Chef Robin White

Setting the table can be so simple – just add some gourds, pumpkins and grapes for a centerpiece and set the table with your best. It will make your celebration that much more special! (photo from Chef Robin’s Thanksgiving table!)

Being a Pilgrim myself, (what! you say?) yes I have Pilgrim blood in me. John White and his family, who were right off the Mayflower, are related to me. I grew up near Plimouth Plantation and always felt at home there. My favorite area, the kitchen! I would kill to have a kitchen like that now! What I could do with the bread oven alone, my gosh!

I have done a tremendous amount of research on what a traditional Pilgrims Thanksgiving’s fare would have been from the main meats to the Thanksgiving side dishes to make for my own family’s Thanksgivings. I have put a twist on everything to bring it into the 21st century. They would have served fish and seafood of course, but I save that for Christmas and New Years Eve.

Chef Robing White on her site.


Chef Robin’s Favorite Thanksgiving Sides



Homemade Cranberry Sauce (low sugar)

Serves 6


homemade Thanksgiving cranberry Sauce

There is NO substitution for fresh cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving. It is SUPER easy and if you’ve not made it before, here is your chance!

– 1 orange, juiced and zested
– 2 cups cranberries
– 3 tbsp port wine
– 1/4 cup sugar, or more if needed
– 1 cinnamon stick, small, about 3 inches
– 1 tablespoon cornstarch
– 1-2 tbsp of local honey, if needed



1. In a small pan combine cranberries, orange juice and zest, port, sugar and cinnamon stick and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer and until cranberries are tender, stirring occasionally. This happens pretty quick about 10-15 minutes.

2. In a small cup make a with cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water a slurry. Whisk cornstarch mixture into sauce and cook, whisking, until sauce thickens. Taste and add more sugar, if necessary, or add 1-2 tbsp local honey if needed.

3. Add a little at a time you will be surprised how sweet cranberries are on their own. (Make sure to discard the cinnamon stick, then cool and serve.) Taste is important when cooking. If you taste a little along the way you know when enough is enough of anything.



Thanksgiving Salsa

Makes 4 cups

I have been fascinated with Thanksgiving and Fall bounty since learning how to cook. One of my all time favorite Fall squash is the Blue Hubbard. I am pretty sure the Pilgrims and Indians didn’t make salsa with it, but pumpkins and squash were a great part of their diet. So, here is a little twist on the big “Blue” to temp your taste buds – it is worth the effort!



– 1 1/2 pounds Blue Hubbard squash, pared, seeded and cut in 1/2 -inch chunks
– 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
– 1 onion, diced
– 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cored, cut into 1/4 -inch dice
– 2 garlic cloves, minced
– 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
– 1/2 teaspoon cumin
– 1 tablespoon brown sugar
– 2 diced tomatoes, seeded
– 1 15 oz can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed, or use your favorite bean
– 1 zucchini, cut into 1/2 -inch dice
– 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
– 1/4 cup coarsely chopped shelled and toasted pumpkin seeds
– Tortilla chips, for serving


1. Position a rack in center of oven and preheat to 400 degrees.

2. Lightly oil a baking sheet. Toss squash with 1 tablespoon olive oil and spread on the baking sheet. Roast, stirring occasionally, until squash is lightly browned and tender, about 25 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet or saucepan over medium-high heat and add onion, red pepper, garlic and jalapeno, cumin, sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is golden, about 8 minutes.

4. Add tomatoes, beans, zucchini and cilantro and cook, stirring occasionally, until zucchini is crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.

5. Stir in roasted squash and cook 5 minutes more. (The salsa can be made, cooled, covered and refrigerated up to 3 days ahead. Reheat gently ) Stir in pumpkin seeds.

6. Serve warm with tortilla chips. Makes about 4 cups or 8 servings.



Brussels Sprouts with Crisp Pancetta & Toasted Pine Nuts finished with Fried Capers


Brussels Sprouts is one of the last vegetables to be harvested and are timely for Thanksgiving. Did the Pilgrims have them? Probably not, but this Pilgrim loves them and this recipe will become a Thanksgiving staple!


INGREDIENTS:Thanksgiving Brussels Spouts

– 6 ounces pancetta, dice it in chunky bits (bacon if you don’t have it)
– 4 tablespoons capers, drained and dried off
– 2 pints Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
– 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
– 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
– Salt and freshly ground black pepper
– 1/3 cup pine nuts



Preheat oven to 350 degrees0
1. In a medium pan over medium heat cook the pancetta until crispy.

2. Remove from pan, reserving a little of the pancetta fat in the pan.

3. Add the Brussels sprouts to the pan and cook over medium heat to begin to brown. Put them in the oven to bake for about 15 – 20 minutes or as soft as you’d like them.

4. Put the pine nuts in a small, dry, saute pan and toast over a low flame, tossing a couple of times, just until lightly browned, 2 – 3 minutes.

5. Once the sprouts are ready, remove them from the oven and put into a big serving bowl.

6. In a small frying pan add 1 tbsp olive oil and heat until hot add the dried off caper and fry for 1 minute until slightly crisp and a little brown. Add the pancetta, the capers, pine nuts to brussels sprouts. Toss and check for seasoning.