Tired of "Pilgrim food"?

PAM ANDERSON | 9/17/2009, 11:20 a.m.


Of course, everyone wants roast turkey for Thanksgiving, but this year, try freshening up your traditional holiday menu with flavors from the Pacific Northwest.

Welcome family and friends with little sesame-crusted salmon cakes and an Asian dipping sauce. Plan on three or four per person -- they're that good.

Start the meal with a refreshing salad of colorful greens, crisp fennel, sweet dried cherries and blue cheese. For side dishes, shred Brussels sprouts and stir in a box of crowd-friendly peas for a dish that can be made ahead and reheated close to serving. Skip the stuffing and serve couscous (aka large pearl pasta) enriched with both fresh and dried mushrooms. These grains cook in just 10 minutes. End with Pear-Hazelnut Crisp, which has fewer calories than pie and is much easier to make. Happy Thanksgiving.3/4 cup all-purpose bleached flour, plus 2 Tbs. for pears

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1/2 cup roasted hazelnuts, finely chopped

6 Tbs. butter, melted but not hot

1/2 cup sugar

4 tsps. peeled and minced fresh ginger root

3/4 tsp. ground cardamom

6 large pears, cored and thinly sliced

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees.

Make crumble topping by mixing 3/4 cup flour, brown sugar and hazelnuts in a medium bowl; add butter and stir with a fork to form large clumps. Set aside.

Meanwhile, mix sugar, ginger root, cardamom and remaining flour in a small bowl.

In a large bowl, toss the sugar mixture with the pears to evenly coat. Turn into a 9-inch square pan. Sprinkle crumble evenly over top.

Bake until golden brown, 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool and serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 8Per serving: 374 calories, 3g protein, 65g carbohydrates, 13g fat (5.8g saturated), 23mg cholesterol, 7g fiber, 67mg sodium10 ounces (about 15 cups) pre-washed mixed baby greens

1 medium fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced

1/2 cup dried cherries

4 ounces crumbled blue cheese (yields about 3/4 cup)

6 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to taste

Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

1 1/2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar, plus more to taste

Place the first four ingredients in a large bowl. When ready to serve the salad, toss with 6 Tbs. olive oil and a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper. Taste, adding more oil, salt or pepper, if needed. Add vinegar; toss to coat, adding more, if necessary, to taste. Serve.

Serves 8 Per serving: 186 calories, 4g protein, 10g carbohydrates, 14g fat (4.1g saturated), 11mg cholesterol, 2g fiber, 223mg sodium1/4 cup olive oil

2 pounds fresh Brussels sprouts, trimmed and thinly sliced by hand or using a food processor

Salt and ground black pepper

1 10-ounce box frozen green peas

3 Tbs. Dijon mustard

1 Tb. finely grated lemon zest, plus 1 1/2 Tbs. juice from a large lemon

Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add Brussels sprouts and cook, stirring continuously until slightly wilted, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then turn onto a large rimmed baking sheet. Add frozen peas and set aside. (Once cooled, the mixture can be covered at room temperature and held for up to 2 hours.)