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Campus & Community - Health

Happy Thanksgiving: From Drexel’s Campus to Your Dinner Table

November 23, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

Looking forward to Thanksgiving dinner but weary about the start of the holiday pounds?

Ally Zeitz ’15, a culinary arts alumnus and manager of the Drexel Food Lab, created healthier takes on classic Thanksgiving recipes for you and your family to try out this holiday season.

What’s on her plate? Creamed kale with Greek yogurt instead of heavy cream, pumpkin stuffing that reduces the amount of butter typically used, gravy made from pan drippings and apple cider-braised cabbage.

“For these recipes, I think it’s nice to see how you can make comforting food a little healthier,” said Zeitz, who regularly develops and oversees healthy, sustainable recipes and products from the Drexel Food Lab, an interdisciplinary research group housed in the Center for Hospitality & Sport Management.


1. Greek Yogurt Creamed Kale

“When you see something covered in a cream sauce you automatically think it’s going to be bad for you — so much butter and flour to get that consistency. But with this Greek Yogurt creamed kale, you don’t have to feel guilty!” said Zeitz.

Meal: side dish

Prep time: 30 minutes

Serves: 6

Greek yogurt creamed kale from the Drexel Food Lab.
Greek yogurt creamed kale from the Drexel Food Lab.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 small onion, small dice (about 1 cup)
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 bunches Tuscan kale, cut in half lengthwise and chopped
  • 2 cups Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil and butter on medium-low heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the stock. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Add the kale to the pan, and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. The kale should be completely soft and most of the stock should be evaporated.
  3. In a separate small bowl, mix together the yogurt, milk and nutmeg. Remove the cooked kale from the heat and stir in the yogurt mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Ally Zeitz, Drexel Food Lab


2. Pumpkin Stuffing

“Stuffing normally has so much butter in it, so that it tastes great and browns nicely. For my pumpkin stuffing, the canned pumpkin adds moisture and flavor, without adding fat,” said Zeitz.

Meal: side dish

Prep time: 30 minutes

Serves: 8

Pumpkin stuffing from the Drexel Food Lab.
Pumpkin stuffing from the Drexel Food Lab.

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 ounces shitake mushrooms, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 large onion, small dice (about 2 cups)
  • 4 celery stalks, small dice (about 2 cups)
  • 2 sprigs rosemary, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 tablespoon minced sage
  • 1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 loaf ciabatta bread, diced (about 8 cups)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 9x13 casserole dish.
  2. In a large sauté pan on medium heat, combine olive oil and butter. Add mushrooms.  Cook for 5 minutes, or until they are lightly browned. Add the onions and celery to the mushrooms cook 10 minutes, until soft and translucent.
  3. Add the rosemary and sage to the pan and cook 2 minutes until aromatic. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Lower the heat to medium-low. Add the pumpkin and chicken stock to the vegetables, and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for an additional 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
  5. In a large bowl, combine bread and pumpkin vegetable mixture. Pour the stuffing into the prepared pan and flatten into an even layer.
  6. Place the stuffing into the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the top is browned slightly.

Ally Zeitz, Drexel Food Lab


3. Apple Cider-Braised Cabbage

Meal: Vegetable appetizer

Prep time: 30 minutes

Serves: 4

Braised cabbage from the Drexel Food Lab.
Braised cabbage from the Drexel Food Lab.

“I loved this braised cabbage from James Capone, a culinary arts senior. It’s a new way to use cabbage, the color is great and it would be a great addition to any Thanksgiving table,” said Zeitz.

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 head red cabbage, cut into eight wedges
  • ¼ cup chopped shallots
  • 1 sprig fresh sage
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ¼ cup chopped chives
  1. Heat a large sauté pan on medium high heat and add the vegetable oil.
  2. Working in batches, sear the wedges of cabbage on both sides until lightly browned, about 3 to 5 minutes per side. Once the cabbage is seared, remove it from the pan and reserve.
  3. Add the shallots, sage, apple cider and honey to the pan. Bring the cider to a simmer and stir to combine. Season with salt and reduce the heat to medium low.
  4. Add the cabbage back to the pan, arranging the wedges so they fit neatly into the pan. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes, or until cabbage is soft.
  5. Serve two pieces of cabbage with a generous amount of pan sauce and garnish with chopped chives.

James Capone, Drexel Food Lab


4. Roast Turkey With Pan Gravy

“For the turkey, the gravy that is made from the pan drippings is really good, lower calorie and super simple! The beer gives it a nice savory flavor. All you have to do is puree pan drippings and vegetables,” said Zeitz.

Meal: Meat main dish

Prep time: 30 minutes active cooking time, 2 hours inactive cooking time

Serves: 10-15 people

  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 3 sprigs rosemary, chopped
  • ½ cup chopped sage
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1 bunch celery, chopped     
  • 3 large onion, diced in one-inch chunks
  • 2 apples, large dice
  • 1 whole turkey, about 10 to 15 pounds
  • 1 bottle beer, IPA or lager
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • Black pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together butter, rosemary, sage, salt, lemon zest and shallot.
  3. In a large roasting pan, arrange the celery, onion and apples on the bottom of the pan, positioning them so the turkey can sit on top of the vegetables.
  4. Place the turkey on top of the vegetables. Rub the turkey with the butter mixture, making sure to get the butter under the skin of the bird.
  5.  Pour the beer into the roasting pan, around the vegetables
  6. Place the turkey in the oven. After about 30 minutes of roasting, lower the temperature of the oven to 275 degrees. Roast the turkey for about another 2 ½ hours, or until the thickest part of the meat registers 165 degrees on a thermometer.
  7. Remove the turkey from the oven and let it rest for about 15 minutes. Transfer the turkey to a cutting board or serving platter. Pour the remaining liquid and vegetables into a medium sized pot. Using a blender or immersion blender, puree the gravy until smooth. If using a blender, pour the gravy back into the pot and bring to a simmer.
  8. Once the gravy comes to a simmer. Remove it from the heat and add the cream, and season with salt and pepper.
  9. Serve the turkey with the gravy and traditional sides.

Ally Zeitz, Drexel Food Lab