Like many of you guys, I tend to stick to the same Thanksgiving menu year in and year out; my family would probably revolt if I mixed things up too much, and besides – why mess with such a delicious tradition? Thankfully, there are 90 other days that are technically classified as “fall,” and I say that when it comes to cooking with autumnal ingredients, those are fair game. When our friends at McCormick Gourmet sent us their new collection of seasonings inspired by flavors around the globe, it inspired all kinds of new culinary experimentation. And of course, playing with new recipes in the kitchen means that I had to invite some fun people to share them with me. Scroll on for a dinner party menu that’ll take you and your friends on a flavor journey around the world.
I setup the coffee table on our back patio as a low lounge-y dining area with pillows and blankets tossed around for cozyness – perfect for this season when there’s the slightest chill in the air but it’s still plenty warm for enjoying meals outdoors. This Woven Baja Throw Blanket inspired the textural, global look of the table – I often find that my favorite tablecloths are actually repurposed bed throws!
For table decor, I wanted to capture the laid-back sensual vibes of Morocco, so instead of a floral centerpiece I opted for low casual bowls of nibbles that served double duty as party apps. Pistachios, fresh and dried figs, and green olives mingled with miniature pumpkins for a totally fresh take on fall tradition.
Of course this party was really all about the food and taking my cooking skills on a little flavor adventure around the world! Here’s what was on the menu:
– Peruvian Carrot Pesto topped with herbs and pumpkin seeds, and served with seeded crackers
– Za’atar Spiced Citrus Yogurt Dip with roasted baby broccoli for dipping
– Maple Harissa Brussels Sprouts with pomegranate seeds
– Perfectly Spicy Berbere Baked Sweet Potatoes
– Shawarma-Marinated Chicken Thighs with herb salad and lemons
Y’all, I need you to experience how good this baked chicken dish is, like, now. I always forget how tender and delicious a yogurt marinade is on chicken – it truly turns it into a juicy knife-not-needed situation but without the cook time of a crock pot recipe. Marinating in yogurt is a technique that’s been used in Middle Eastern cuisine for centuries, and McCormick Gourmet’s Shawarma Seasoning is the most perfect complementary spice blend, with cumin, coriander, and cinnamon.
If you’ve been around here, you know that sweet potatoes are among my most favorite foods on the planet, so I’m constantly looking for ways to reinvent them. This twice-baked version is my current obsession; the McCormick Gourmet Berbere Seasoning introduced a new flavor profile for me. I loved experimenting with the mix of sweet spices like cardamom, cinnamon, and spicy cayenne in this Ethiopian inspired blend, and it reinvented my sweet potatoes and made the familiar flavors feel exciting again.
Also filed under “my favorite things about fall”: brussels sprouts, the official trendy vegetable of the decade that I’d almost started to get tired of until I made this version with maple syrup and McCormick Gourmet Harissa Seasoning. Spicy chilies and warm spices meet refreshing mint in this North African seasoning blend, and it’s equally as perfect on grilled meats (with a kick!) as it is on taking these sautéed veg up a notch. A sprinkle of pomegranate seeds not only adds a sweet burst of flavor in each bite – the jewel-tones make it dressed up for a holiday party.
To round out our family-style feast, I made two dips that were delicious appetizers to start the meal – and also happened to be perfect accompaniments to the chicken and other dishes on the table. Many other cultures around the world – from Middle Eastern to Israeli to African – incorporate small plates and condiments that are made for sharing and dipping bread, meats, and vegetables, and I love the communal feel it provides for everyone to be sharing and passing dishes around the table.
My Peruvian Carrot Pesto is such a unique spin on the classic pesto that I make all the time. I blend roasted carrots with herbs and McCormick Gourmet Peruvian Seasoning for a chunky paste that is totally addictive and is as good alongside grilled pork or steak as it is as a dip for seeded crackers.
This Za’atar Spiced Citrus Yogurt Dip is cooling and refreshing – and leverages one of my absolute favorite spice blends to use in every day cooking. Inspired by the traditional Middle Eastern blend of thyme, oregano and sesame seeds, it’s perfect for sprinkling into olive oil for dipping bread, or mixing into store-bought hummus to instantly elevate it.
I love the way that these global-inspired spice blends inspire flavor combinations I may not have thought of on my own – and incorporating them into a few new recipes made me feel like I was taking a little journey around the world, quite literally from my own backyard.
Share this Post