ALEXANDRA ROWLEYIf anyone knows how to put together a healthy Thanksgiving feast, Maria Helm Sinskey does. The celebrated chef and her husband, Robthe team behind Robert Sinskey Vineyardspluck most of the food for their spread from their own gardens at the familys organic Napa Valley winery and from farmers markets in the area. This year, they let Health tap into Marias secrets for a holiday thats all about enjoying fresh, satisfying dishes prepared with a light touch to allow the natural flavors to shine through. While her menu isnt exactly low calorie, it has a healthy mix of vegetables, lean protein, and good-for-you fatsso even though youre indulging, you can feel virtuous about the food youre feasting on.
“My cooking style is simple and of the season,” Maria says. “Were lucky in northern California to have a lot of the ingredients for Thanksgiving right out our back door, but you can personalize your own Thanksgiving with produce from your region to give it local flair.” (Check out “Go Local,” below, for help finding sources in your area.)
Maria showcases traditional flavors with fun twists. She layers caramelized pecans beneath the filling of her amazing pumpkin pie, for instance, and she roasts Brussels sprouts so tender that even the kids ask for seconds (her flavor trick: adding crispy-fried capers to the dish).
No matter where you live, this fresh, flavorful menu will satisfy. And Marias make-ahead game plan will make your big day stress-free, too. And heres a wine-country toast to that.
Port-Soaked Figs With Stilton Cheese
White Bean and Escarole Spread With Crostini
Marinated Olives and Roasted Nuts
The Dinner Menu
Stuffing With Apples, Sage, and Chestnuts
Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes
Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Crispy Capers and Carrots
Simple Cranberry-Citrus Relish
Pumpkin and Caramelized-Pecan Pie
A vineyard Thanksgiving just wouldnt be complete without wine. Marias picks:
Abraxas, Vin de Terroir, Robert Sinskey Vineyards 2006 ($28)
Maria might be biased, but we agree that this blend of Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, and Gewürztraminer with hints of white nectarine, flowers, apples, and spice is a pleasure to drink at the table or on its own.
Conde Valdemar Reserva Rioja 2001 ($16.99)
A balanced wine that showcases black cherry, cola, and tobacco-leaf flavors with nicely integrated tannin and a spicy finish.
Find farmers markets in your area.
Look for community-supported agriculture programs.
Track down local, sustainable sources for meat, dairy, and eggs.