The tried-and-true turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy and pie may never get old, but that’s no reason to be afraid to mix it up a bit this year. Try these unexpected, non-traditional dishes for your Thanksgiving meal.

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Acorn Squash Fries

Here’s an unsuspecting way to get your kids (and big-kids) to eat their veggies. Serve them in tin cans with parchment paper or paper cones for trendy appeal. Try this recipe with any root vegetable.

What You Need:

  • Acorn Squash, or root vegetable of choice 
  • Oil 
  • Salt

What To Do:

Simply wash and peel the acorn squash, remove the innards and cut it into fry pieces. You can make them any thickness you’d like. Toss the fries in a few tablespoons of olive oil and salt then place them on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes, then flip them and bake through another 15 minutes.

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This South American favorite is sure to please your guests. Corn flour is used to make delicious pan-fried cakes that can be modified any way you’d like. Guests will enjoy this unexpected, savory treat.

What You Need:

  • Corn Flour, (Pan) 
  • Water (warm) 
  • Salt 
  • Goat Cheese 
  • Spicy Avocado aioli

What To Do:

Prepare the basic dough according to the packaged instructions, using the corn flour, water and salt. Add the goat cheese, 1/3 to 1/2 cup depending on the yield, and combine thoroughly. Mold the dough into flat, round cakes and pan fry in a drizzle of oil or butter. Flip and cook each side until lightly browned. Serve with a drizzle of avocado aioli, made with 1 whole mashed avocado, 1/3 cup of mayonnaise, diced serrano and jalapeño peppers, and lime juice. Pulse all ingredients in food processor until smooth and creamy.

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Pronounced Wo-Dja-Pee, this berry-licious treat is more traditional than you think and couldn’t be more appropriate for your Thanksgiving holiday. Originating among the indigenous tribes of the United States, this sweet dish pays homage to the heritage of the holiday.  

What you’ll need:

  • 2 cups chokecherries, or berry of choice 
  • Water 
  • 3/4 cup sugar 
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch

What To Do:

Combine berries, sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. In a separate bowl mix cornstarch with 1/4 cup of cold water. Once the berries mixture reaches a boil, slowly add the cornstarch mixture and allow to simmer for about five minutes. Mixture should be thickened, remove from heat and serve.

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Meatballs over Polenta

Give your guests something drool over with this savory dish. The tender meatballs over creamy polenta create a unique seasonal favorite that will set your meal apart.

What You Need:

For the Meatballs:

1 pound ground beef

  • 1/2 onion
  • diced and sautéed 
  • 2-3 garlic gloves chopped 
  • 1 egg 
  • 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs 
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning 
  • salt & black pepper to taste

For the Polenta:

  • 1 cup polenta 
  • 2 cups stock 
  • 2 cups milk 
  • 1 tablespoon butter 
  • 1/4 cup cream 
  • salt to taste

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients for the meatballs and shape into size of choice. Make sure they are consistent for thorough cooking. Pan sear the meatballs, then bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes. In the meantime, bring stock and milk to a simmer in a saucepan. Whisk in the polenta and continue until it begins to thicken. Reduce heat and allow the polenta to cook 10-15 minutes. Add the butter, cream and salt. To serve, pour the polenta into a nice round heap and top with meatballs. Top with your favorite red sauce and sprinkle on some pecorino cheese for good measure.

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Mascarpone Peaches with Salted Bourbon Caramel Sauce

Get your sweet fix with this fruit delight, incorporating the robust flavor of bourbon. Sweet, tender peaches melt in your mouth with the creamy texture of vanilla mascarpone cheese complimented by the unique bourbon sauce. Shock your taste buds and your guests with this non-traditional, non-pie dessert.

What You Need:

  • 1 cup sugar 
  • 1/4 cup water 
  • 1/2 cup cream 
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon 
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt 
  • 8 ounces mascarpone cheese 
  • 1 vanilla or vanilla bean paste 
  • 3 to 4 freestone peaches

What To Do:

Grill or bake the peaches until nice and tender. In a saucepan, bring sugar and water to a simmer, swirling (not stirring) until sugar is dissolved. Allow to simmer a few minutes until the color turns a light brown. Remove from heat. Stir in cream, slowly, until combined. Then add salt and bourbon, stirring until smooth. Combine the mascarpone cheese and vanilla. Fill the warm peaches with the mascarpone cheese and generously drizzle the caramel bourbon sauce.

Go out and try something unconventional this Thanksgiving!

Michelle Perez is a freelance writer staying on the pulse of all that’s new and exciting. Her work can be found on