On a November 1994 episode of the TV show Friends, no one could go home for Thanksgiving, so they ate together in Monica’s apartment. Though the word “Friendsgiving” was never actually used, the idea of celebrating a second Thanksgiving with friends caught on.
We celebrate Friendsgiving at my sister’s house in San Diego on the first Saturday of November. It’s not so close to Thanksgiving that we’re turkeyed out, but there’s still the crispness of fall in the air.
We created a casual approach to this very traditional meal to keep it relaxed and fun. This menu features a turkey breast stuffed with mildly spicy chorizo filling, a creamy sweet potato soup, a fresh citrus and arugula salad, and awesome sides like bacon-herb mushrooms.
If not all your guests are on the Whole30, have them bring more traditional sides for those who want a dinner roll, brown sugar–topped sweet potatoes, or apple pie. Have small menu cards for each dish, alerting guests to ingredients and allergens.
My favorite Friendsgiving tradition is to go around the table and say one or two things you’ve been grateful for in the past year. You can toast with sparkling water or cider; it will be just as festive and meaningful as with wine.
After dinner, we bust out a huge easel with paper and play Pictionary, boys versus girls. Catch Phrase is another fun game with large groups.
One last thoughtful touch is to pick up some extra plastic storage containers, so you can send guests home with leftovers.
Here are a few of my favorite recipes for a Friendsgiving feast.
Roasted Sweet Potato Soup
Instead of the more familiar starter soup made with butternut squash, try this creamy first course of puréed sweet potatoes and coconut milk flavored with cumin, garlic, ginger, jalapeño, lemon juice, and coriander.
Makes 10 servings | Prep time 20 minutes | Cook time 25 minutes
- 1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ½ -in. pieces
- 1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1-in. pieces
- 4 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp. coarse salt
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 2 tsp. cumin seeds, crushed
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 piece (2 inches) fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
- 1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped
- 4 cups Whole30-compliant chicken broth
- 1 (14-oz.) can Whole30-compliant coconut milk
- 2 tbs. fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp. ground coriander
- 1/4 cup toasted pepitas
- Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a large rimmed baking pan with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, combine the sweet potatoes, onion, and carrots. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil; toss to coat. Sprinkle with the salt, pepper, and cumin seeds; toss to combine. Transfer to the baking pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until tender and beginning to brown.
- In a large pot over medium heat, heat the remaining olive oil. Add the garlic, ginger, and jalapeño; cook for one minute. Stir in the broth, coconut milk, lemon juice, and coriander; bring to a boil. Carefully add the roasted vegetables. Remove from the heat.
- Use an immersion blender to blend the soup in the pot. (Or let the soup cool briefly, then carefully transfer to a blender in batches. Cover and pulse a few times, then blend until smooth.)
- Top each serving with some pepitas.
Arugula, Fennel, and Citrus Salad
This salad offers up a beautiful balance to the rich dishes on this celebration menu. The combination of peppery arugula, anise-y fennel, and the sweet-but-astringent flavors of grapefruit and orange offer brightness in every bite.
Makes 10 servings | Prep time 20 minutes
- 2 red grapefruit, supremed (see below)
- 1 navel orange, supremed (see below)
- 3 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 1/8 tsp. black pepper
- 1 fennel bulb, trimmed, halved, and cored (see below)
- 1 package (5 oz.) arugula
- Fresh mint leaves
- In a small bowl, whisk together 3 tablespoons of the citrus juices with the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
- Use a mandoline set at 1/8 inch or a sharp knife to thinly slice the fennel. In a large serving bowl, combine the fennel, arugula, and citrus segments. Drizzle with the vinaigrette and toss gently to combine. Sprinkle with mint leaves.
TIPS: To supreme the grapefruit and oranges (remove the membranes so the fruit can be easily served in segments), use a sharp knife to trim the ends of each fruit. Set one end flat on a cutting board and slice off the peel and pith in sections. Holding the fruit over a bowl to catch the juices, carefully cut toward the center, along a membrane. Then slice along the adjacent membrane until the cuts meet, releasing the segment. Repeat with the remaining segments. Squeeze the juice from the membranes, then discard the squeezed membranes.
To trim a fennel bulb, cut off the stalk about 1 inch from the bulb. Cut a thin slice from the root end and discard. Remove any wilted outer layers with a vegetable peeler. Stand the bulb upright and cut in half. Cut away and discard the tough core from each half. Slice the fennel according to the recipe.
Cardamom-Ginger Poached Pears
This lovely dessert can be made up to 24 hours in advance. Just refrigerate the pears and coconut cream in separate airtight containers. Let the pears stand at room temperature for an hour before serving.
Makes 10 servings | Prep time 20 minutes | Cook time 10 minutes
- 1 (14-oz.) can Whole30-compliant coconut milk, refrigerated overnight
- 1/4 tsp. Whole30-compliant vanilla bean powder
- 1/8 tsp. ground cardamom
- 2 cups apple cider
- 2 chai tea bags
- 2 green cardamom pods, crushed to release seeds
- 1 piece (2 inches) fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
- 2 tsp. grated orange zest
- 5 Bosc pears, halved lengthwise and cored
- 1/3 cup chopped raw pistachios
- Make the coconut cream: Open the refrigerated can of coconut milk; drain off the liquid and reserve for smoothies. Spoon the coconut cream into a large bowl. Add the vanilla bean powder and cardamom; beat with an electric mixer on medium-high until fluffy, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a serving dish. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
- Make the pears: Combine 2 cups of water and the cider in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil; remove from heat. Add the tea bags; let steep for five minutes. Remove and discard the tea bags. Add thecardamom pods, ginger, orange zest, and pears. Return to a boil, then reduce the heat. Simmer, uncovered, until the pears are tender, about 10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the pears and let cool to room temperature.
- To serve, top each pear with some of the coconut cream and sprinkle with pistachios.
TIP: Keep a couple of cans of coconut milk in your refrigerator so you’ll be ready whenever you want to make coconut cream.
Melissa Hartwig Urban’s Complete Whole30 Friendsgiving Menu
- Smoky pecans
- Warm spiced olives
- Bacon-herb mushrooms
- Arugula, fennel, and citrus salad
- Roasted sweet potato soup
- Roasted turkey breast with chorizo filling
- Smashed potatoes with herb-garlic butter
- Warm spiced apples with nutty coconut topping
- Cardamom-ginger poached pears
- Fall sangria
Excerpted from The Whole 30 Friends & Family: 150 Recipes for Every Social Occasion © 2019 by Melissa Hartwig Urban. Photography © 2019 by Ghazalle Badiozamani. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.