We are a little more than a week out from Thanksgiving and I am, of course, so excited for the big day. Each year since we have moved out to California, our Thanksgiving celebration has been a bit different. We haven’t exactly created new solid traditions, yet. Often this was even the case back home in NY, too. Most of the time we are surrounded with friends and/or family, but there have been years, due to schedules, travel or other situations, where Thanksgiving dinner was just the two of us. This year we are headed just over the border to Mexico to celebrate the holiday with our friends and their families, where we’ll be together with tons of incredible people, fully submerged in the good vibes of the holiday.
As much as the holidays are about gathering with family and friends, we have all found ourselves on those less than busy holidays. Just two of us. Your spouse or your partner, a parent, your best friend, a loved one or neighbor you are caring for. I find while not as abundant in people, these more low-key holidays are really nice in their own right, quiet and simple – where brand new memories and traditions are created. I thought creating a feast of a meal, focused on this idea of less, might be useful to many of you.
Additionally, some of you may be joining a larger feast, as someone gluten-free, or serving a feast with one or two gluten-free guests. It can be scary being that person (and even the person serving them), when you aren’t sure of the food being made, if it’s safe for you, how it was prepared and so on. These smaller-serving sizes free from gluten, would be the perfect way for you to make and bring along a small dish just for you or as an option to serve to your guest.
I am so excited to share with you a simple, classic menu featuring gluten-free recipes meant for two. Smaller portions, simple preparations and less fuss!
As someone that eats mindfully every day, with many dietary needs, restrictions and choices, I do allow myself to indulge a little at the holidays. I don’t go overboard, but I let go a bit, I eat some of those starchy carbs and grains I so often avoid in my every day life, I have a bit more dairy than I would on any other Thursday. It’s one day and I believe in moderation and balance. On a day focused around gratitude, I always enjoy this meal, so thankful that I am able to indulge on this special day and not destroy all the hard work I do the rest of the year. If I let myself do this every day however, it would be a different story.
With that said, it would be really easy when making a HUGE feast for two, to go overboard, to follow recipes meant for 6+ and be left with a gazillion leftovers. Next thing you know, those exceptions, those special occasion rules, the “just this once” – they get extended a few more days. While you eat up the leftovers, things spiral out of control, you break all those healthy patterns and you feel terrible from eating differently than you normally would, worst of all then the regret sets in. I don’t know about you, but don’t I want my holidays to be clouded in regret or guilt, or worst of all, the stomach aches and bloating.
One meal won’t kill you (unless of course we are talking about severe allergies and intolerence, people, use your judgement, DUH). So, rather than making some overly extreme recipes, mock mashed potatoes and the like, I stick with gluten-free versions of the classics and make substitutions where possible. I enjoy a little and it’s back to my healthy, intuitive eating the next day. It’s wonderful to indulge, enjoy and experience all the delicious goodness, that one special day and not get stuck with the guilt of the leftovers.
I cover the basics here and share a few recipes from the archives that would make wonderful additions to the meal, you can adjust the serving sizes on those, as needed.
So, let’s get to it.
Gluten-free Thanksgiving for Two
Herb Roasted Turkey Breast
This is a simple and easy way to enjoy the flavors of Thanksgiving without slaving over a HUGE turkey. The skin gets beautiful crispy and browned and the herbed butter brings a beautiful flavor to the whole breast. Gluten-free and paleo with options to make dairy-free.
serves 2 with leftovers
- 2 - 2.5 lbs boneless Turkey breast, skin on*
- 2 tablespoons grass-fed butter, room temperature (or olive oil)
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh sage
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
- ½ - 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 450ºF. Rinse the turkey breast and pat dry. In a small bowl mix together the butter, herbs, salt and pepper.
- Carefully run your fingers between the skin and the flesh from 1 end, being careful not to pull it completely off, creating a pocket. Stuff about half of the herb butter paste under the skin of the breast, and spread it evenly under the skin. Transfer the breast to the roasting pan. Rub the remaining herb butter on the outside of the breast, paying special attention to the top where the skin is.
- Place the turkey in the 450ºF oven and roast for 20 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 375ºF and roast for an additional 15-20 minutes, until cooked through, and a thermometer placed in the thickest part of the breast registers 170º F.
- Let stand for 10-15 minutes, tented with foil, before slicing.
If it's a larger cut, ask your butcher to roll and tie the boneless breast so that it cooks evenly.
Increase cook time as necessary for a larger cut or bone-in. For a larger, bone-in turkey breast, if it's around 6 lbs, go with 30 minutes at 450º and then drop to 350º and give it about 1 hour 15 minutes
Single-Serve Gluten-free Classic Sausage and Bread Stuffing
This classic stuffing is gluten-free and dairy-free, with options to make paleo and vegetarian. It’s crisp on the outside, loaded with robust flavor from the herbs and sausage while being fluffy and chewy in the middle. This is a variation on the stuffing my grandmother and my mother always made and I grew up eating at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
makes 2 good sized single-servings
- 4 cups, good quality gluten-free bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (I used gluten-free sourdough from Bread Srsly)
- ½ - 1 cup turkey or chicken stock
- 1 local, farm-fresh egg
- ¼ lb (4 ounces) loose pork or turkey breakfast sausage (be sure this is gluten-free)
- 1 celery stalk, finely diced
- ½ cup finely diced onion
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
- 2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- sea salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 375° and lightly grease two small crocks or large ramekins or one small baking dish. Spread the bread cubes on a baking sheet and toast for 25 minutes, stirring, until lightly browned and crisp.
- In a large bowl, add the toasted bread cubes and ½ cup of stock, until the bread is evenly moistened, adding more stock as necessary. Season with salt and pepper. Add the sausage, onions, celery, garlic and herbs.
- Evenly divide the stuffing mixture among the two greased crocks. Bake the stuffing in the center of the oven for about 25-30 minutes, until it is heated through and the top is browned and crisp. Let the stuffing stand for 10 minutes before serving.
you can leave out the sausage, if you prefer. Add a little butter or olive oil to replace the fat and you can try adding mushrooms for a little "meaty" texture.
Goat Cheese and Chive Mashed Potatoes
A variation on my mom’s famous garlic smashed potatoes, I replace the butter with goat cheese and opted for using the raw, local goat’s milk I had on hand. Add in fresh chives to pull it all together. Gluten-free and cow-milk dairy-free, with options to make totally dairy-free.
- 1 lb organic red potatoes, unpeeled and quartered
- 1 large or 2 small cloves garlic, peeled
- ¼ cup (2 ounces) soft goat cheese, plus a little more for serving
- splash or two goat milk (regular milk will also work, I used a little local raw goat's milk)
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
- sea salt and pepper, to taste
- Place the unpeeled potatoes and the peeled garlic clove in a medium pot and cover with water by 1 inch. Add a generous pinch of salt, partially cover the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until fork tender, about 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes well and return to the pot. Place over a low heat for a minute or two, to evaporate the rest of the water.
- Remove from the heat and add the goat cheese and a splash of milk, mash with a potato masher or use a hand mixer. Adding more milk until the desired consistency is reached. Near the end of mashing add in the chives, reserving a small amount for serving. Season with salt and pepper.
- Serve topped with chives and crumbled goat cheese.
Not having all the beautiful pan drippings from a whole bird, this gravy relies on turkey or chicken stock, so choose a high-quality stock or better yet make your own. Add in whatever pan drippings you do get from the turkey breast for a robust flavor. Gluten-free, dairy-free and paleo.
makes about 2 cups
- 2 cups turkey or chicken stock
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- drippings from the roast turkey breast
- 2 tablespoons arrowroot starch
- Add 2 cups of turkey or chicken stock to a small saucepan with the fresh thyme and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a medium-low. Remove the sprigs of thyme.
- Transfer about 1 cup of the gravy base to a medium bowl and whisk in the arrowroot starch. Whisk well to remove any lumps. Return slurry to the gravy base and whisk over medium-low heat, simmer and whisk until thickened and smooth.
homemade turkey stock is best, if you have it on hand, if not, store-bought (gluten-free) will work, too.
gravy thickened with arrowroot can tend to be a tad thin, when reheated. You may need to add additional starch with any leftovers
Single Serve Grain-free Pumpkin Pies
These cute little mini pumpkin pies are the perfect size and the perfect finish to your feast. Grain-free (Paleo) and dairy-free, you can finish your Thanksgiving meal without all the heavy stuff and without the guilt. Top with whipped coconut cream and you’ll be in heaven.
makes 2 mini pumpkin pies
- ½ cup blanched almond flour
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- pinch ground nutmeg
- pinch sea salt
- ½ cup pumpkin puree
- 1 local, farm fresh egg
- 2 tablespoons full-fat organic coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons coconut sugar (or other granulated sugar)
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 generous pinch each of ground nutmeg, ground cloves and ground cardamom
- pinch sea salt
- whipped coconut cream
- Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Lightly grease two 4-inch tart pans, with a little coconut oil.
- In a small bowl, mix together all of the crust ingredients. Get your hands in there to really mix it up well. Press the mixture into the greased tart pans. Really working it up the sides.
- Place the tart pans into the oven and bake for about 7-8 minutes, until lightly golden brown. Remove from the oven to cool for a few minutes.
- Meanwhile, mix together all of the filling ingredients in a small bowl and pour half the mixture into each the baked crusts.
- Place the pies into the oven (you can place onto a baking sheet if that makes it easier) and bake for 20 - 25 minutes until the filling is set up and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Additional Options for Gluten-free Sides:
Sautéed Green Beans with Mushrooms and Caramelized Leeks
Whole Grain Gluten-free Dinner Rolls
Roasted Butternut Squash, Apple and Leek Bread Stuffing with Collard Greens (Grain-free Option)
Garam Masala Roasted Acorn Squash Wedges
Roasted Sweet Potato Rounds with Garlic Infused Olive Olive and Fresh Herbs
Autumn Harvest Salad with Maple Dijon Vinaigrette