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The Spice Between



Skip the typical sage and thyme for Thanksgiving and instead opt for Chai-Spiced Apple Crisp, Pumpkin & Coconut Thai Curry and Roasted Broccoli Salad with Tahini and Za’atar. | Photo by Emily Teel

Skip the usual suspects for Thanksgiving fare

and give late autumn produce a kick 

The momentum around food in november all leads up to one day: Thanksgiving. The butter-laden Thursday with its repetitive flavor profiles, celebrates all things autumnal. But for all of the fanfare around the day itself, Thanksgiving represents but one dinner … and maybe a few turkey sandwich lunches afterwards.

To ensure a full month of exciting seasonal eats, skip the sage and thyme that appear so heavily in the Thanksgiving menu and use other aromatics to dress up produce. You’ll never miss the nutmeg with pumpkin when it’s in a fragrant Thai-style curry. Enjoy a chunky, charred broccoli salad with tahini dressing and za’atar. Save pie-baking for the holiday and make a weeknight dessert of gluten-free apple crisp fragrant with clove and cardamom.

Chai-Spiced Apple Crisp (gluten-free)

active time: 20 mins., total time: 1 hour

yields: 8 servings


5  medium apples (2 ½ pounds), peeled, cored and diced

2  tablespoons lemon juice

¼ cup light brown sugar

2  tablespoons cornstarch

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon ground cardamom


½ cup butter, softened

1  cup gluten free rolled oats

¾ cup almond flour

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup light brown sugar

1  tablespoon sesame seeds

¼ teaspoon powdered ginger

½ teaspoon grated nutmeg

     teaspoon ground cloves

     teaspoon ground black pepper

1  teaspoon cinnamon

  • Heat oven to 350ºF.
  • Toss apple with lemon juice, salt, cornstarch, cinnamon, ground ginger and brown sugar and spread the mixture evenly in a 
  • 13 x 9 inch (2 quart) baking dish.
  • Stir together topping ingredients into a crumble and sprinkle over apples.
  • Bake until fruit juice is bubbling and topping is golden brown, about 40 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before serving for a thicker texture.

Pumpkin & Coconut Thai Curry

active time: 35 mins., total time: 45 mins.

serves 4

1  pound of peeled and cubed pumpkin

1  pound firm tofu

2  tablespoons red curry paste, divided

3  tablespoons coconut oil, divided

1  tablespoon cornstarch

1  13.5 ounce can coconut milk

1  tablespoon fish sauce (or 1 ½ teaspoons salt)

1  large shallot

1  tablespoon fresh ginger, minced

1  red bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips

1  yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips

3  small bok choy, chopped and well-washed

Thai basil, to garnish

Fresh cilantro, to garnish

Steamed brown rice, to serve alongside

  • Heat oven to 400ºF. 
  • Drain tofu, squeezing out as much water as possible and cut into cubes. In a medium bowl, make a paste out of one tablespoon red curry paste, a tablespoon each cornstarch and coconut oil, and a pinch of salt. Add tofu cubes to the bowl and gently fold them in until they are well coated. 
  • Spread tofu cubes into a single layer on a baking sheet and roast, turning occasionally until they appear dry and sizzling, 25 to 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, in a large, heavy bottomed pot over high heat, warm 1 tablespoon coconut oil, one tablespoon red curry paste, and ginger until fragrant and sizzling.
  • Add shallot, bell peppers and pumpkin and toss to coat. When peppers and shallot have wilted slightly, add fish sauce and coconut milk. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook covered until pumpkin is tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
  • When the tip of a paring knife slides through a pumpkin cube with ease, add bok choy, cover and simmer five minutes more, just until bok choy stalks have softened slightly and leaves appear bright green. Taste and season as needed.
  • Serve spooned over brown rice and scattered with torn Thai basil and fresh cilantro leaves.

Roasted Broccoli Salad with Tahini and Za’atar

active time: 25 mins., total time: 45 mins.

serves 4 to 6 as a side

1¾  pounds broccoli (3 large crowns), washed and trimmed into bite-sized florets

1  large red onion, sliced into half-moons

1¼ cup olive oil


¼ cup tahini

2  tablespoons plain yogurt

3  tablespoons lemon juice (half of a large lemon)

2-4 tablespoons water

1  clove garlic, minced


  • Heat oven to 450ºF.
  • In a large bowl, toss broccoli and onion with olive oil and a teaspoon of salt until well coated. Spread broccoli and onions into a single layer on a large baking sheet. Roast until bright green and beginning to char, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove and allow to cool slightly.
  • In a blender, mix lemon juice, yogurt, tahini, garlic and a pinch of salt until well combined. Add water until it becomes a good consistency for drizzling.
  • Drizzle broccoli and onion with tahini dressing and sprinkle heavily with za’atar.

Emily Teel is a food freelancer dedicated to sustainable, delicious food in Philadelphia. 

See more of her work at

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