thanksgiving menu ideas from helene, founder of malibu farm and author of sunrise to sunset

Photographs copyright © 2021 by Erin Kunkel

as we excitedly prepare our Thanksgiving menu for next week, we could not think of a better time to feature our neighboring business founder - the incredibly talented, inspirational and amazing creator and female chef, Helene Henderson, behind Malibu Farm on the Malibu Pier. Helene has a new cookbook that has just launched this fall called "Sunrise to Sunset". for those who do not know, Helene manages a casual counter service cafe at the end of the Malibu Pier and a full service restaurant and bar at the beginning of the pier, as well as the Malibu Farm locations in Lido Marina Village, Orange County, Lanai, HI, Miami, FL, New York, NY, Los Cabos, and Zushi Marina in Kanagawa, Japan - along with additional locations sprouting up soon. 

while their business is rapidly expanding, Helene and her team emphasize that they are a locally owned small business whose focus will always be on using the freshest ingredients in their recipes and preparing all of their dishes super simply with no secret ingredients, no fake food, and no substitutes. they use mostly whole wheat flours and whole grains, tons of vegetables and fruits, and Helene shares the following about her philosophy: "i love arugula and i totally believe there is no such thing as too much lemon. we use no fake food, margarine, veggie butter, sugar substitutes? what is that stuff? if you don't know how to make it, or where it comes from, don't eat it. don't buy it. i don't use non-fat products, because nothing makes you fatter than eating fat-free. this is a fact. eat the real thing, or don't eat it at all." 

we are extremely grateful to Helene, her team at Malibu Farm and her publishers at Clarkson Potter for giving us this wonderful behind-the-scenes sneak peek at these beautiful and delicious dishes from the newly launching sunrise to sunset cookbook. the following recipes are the ones that Helene has shared as her two top recommendations for you all to make for your Thanksgiving celebrations: Healthy Holiday Grains and Green and Red Holiday Beans.  Helene is very fond of the Green and Red Holiday Beans dish and explains "i love the color of red and green and the spirit of the holidays, reminds me of my childhood in Sweden!" also, as a key tip for preparing your holiday meal, Helene also mentions: "save your halloween pumpkin decor - they are the perfect vessel to serve your thanksgiving dishes"! 

please enjoy these recipes from our dear friend and neighbor, Helene Henderson. Happy Thanksgiving to all, and Bon Appetit! 


Photographs copyright © 2021 by Erin Kunkel

red and green holiday beans 

Photographs copyright © 2021 by Erin Kunkel

serves 4 

  • salt to taste
  • 2 cups fresh green beans 
  • 1/4 cup olive oil 
  • 1/3 cup black lentils, cooked according to the package instructions, drained 
  • 2 tablespoons lemon dressing (recipe follows) 
  • 1 red bell pepper, roasted and marinated (recipe follows)
  • 1 basket cherry tomatoes, halved (2 cups) 
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill or other fresh herb of choice, for garnish 

bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the green beans, and blanch them for about 2 minutes. remove them from the water and let them cool on a sheet pan. (unless you are cooking large quantities of green beans, there is no need to drop them into ice water. the beans actually taste better when they are allowed to air-dry, rather than absorb more water by cooling in ice). in a large bowl, lightly toss the beans with the olive oil and salt. 

season the cooked lentils with the lemon dressing and salt to taste, and add the chili pepper if using. combine the lentils, roasted and marinated red bell pepper, and cherry tomatoes with the green beans. garnish with the dill or other herbs of choice. 

serve at room temperature. 

note: both the lentils (cooked and tossed in lemon dressing and salt) and the roasted and marinated red bell peppers can be made several days in advance. 

lemon dressing 

  • 1/2 cup lemon juice 
  • 1/4 cup olive oil 
  • 1 garlic clove, grated 
  • salt to taste 
  • chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, cilantro, or rosemary (optional) 

the key here is fresh-squeezed juice, not bottled. how much oil will you use? this all depends on how much juice you have squeezed, but you want to have more juice than olive oil, which is why we call it "seriously" citrus dressing. 

just whisk the citrus juice with the olive oil, stir in the garlic, and season with salt. add chopped herbs if using. voilà.

roasted and marinated red bell peppers 

makes 2 peppers

  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil 
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced thin
  • salt to taste 
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar 
  • 1/2 teaspoon worcestershire sauce (optional) 

there are several ways to roast your red bell peppers. if you have a gas stove, turn a burner on high, lay the peppers directly over the flame, and roast, turning them occasionally, until the skin is completely charred. if you do not have a gas stove, then you can put the peppers under the oven broiler or on a barbecue grill; turn them a few times until they are charred black on all sides.

once the skin is charred, place the red peppers in a bowl and cover it with a plate or a pot lid (or, less ideally, plastic wrap). we just need the peppers to steam for a few minutes. once they have steamed, peel off the charred skin and slice the peppers into strips. place them in a bowl or other container. 

in a small skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-heat, and cook the thin garlic slices until they just turn brown. pour the garlic over the red bell pepper strips and season them lightly with salt. add the balsamic vinegar and worcestershire sauce. use the marinated peppers right away or store in the fridge for up to 5 days. 

holiday healthy grains 

Photographs copyright © 2021 by Erin Kunkel

serves 6 

  • 1 leek 
  • 1 tablespoon salted butter 
  • salt to taste 
  • 1 cup dried cranberries 
  • 1/2 cup roasted sliced skin-on almonds 
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley 
  • 1 cup wild rice, cooked according to the package instructions
  • 2 cups quinoa, cooked according to the package instructions 
  • 2 cups cubed roasted butternut squash (recipe follows) 
  • 1/4 cup lemon dressing (recipe follows) 
  • jack be little mini pumpkins (recipe follows; optional) 

thinly slice the whole leek - yes, the dark leaves too - into rings and discard the root end. (there is no reason to toss out half of the leek because it is darker. the dark part is still delicious; it just takes a little longer to cook and to soften. when you're slicing, keep the light and dark parts separate). leeks can have soil deep inside them, so submerge the sliced leek in a bowl of cold water to wash it well. dry on paper towels before cooking. 

in a medium skillet, melt the butter over low heat. add the darker parts of the sliced leek first and sauté for 3 minutes. then add the rest of the leek (the white end), and cook for an additional 3 minutes, until all of the leek is soft, about 6 minutes total. season with salt. in a larger bowl, combine the leeks with the cranberries, almonds, parsley, wild rice and quinoa, and cooked butternut squash. drizzle in the lemon dressing, and toss. serve in the bowl or stuff into the mini pumpkins. 

the stuffing can be made up to 2 days in advance.

note: cook quinoa and wild rice until at least 50 percent of the grain has "bloomed" (opened). 

tip: use any grain, lentil, or bean combination that suits you. use what you have and what you like. cherry tomatoes, asparagus, and green beans are all delicious additions. 

jack be little mini pumpkins

mini pumpkins are in every store, everywhere, around halloween. they will last until the holidays, especially if you keep them in the fridge. jack be little are the orange ones and baby boo the white ones, and obviously we will need some of both.

roast the pumpkins in a preheated 375°F oven for 40 minutes or until they are just soft and you can pierce through them with a sharp knife. remove them from the oven and allow them to cool. then cut off the tops of the pumpkins and scoop out the seeds (see tip).

the pumpkins can be prepared up to 2 days in advance and kept chilled. 

to serve stuffed with holiday healthy grains, heat the filled pumpkins in a 375°F oven for 20 minutes before serving. 

tip: save the scooped-out pumpkin seeds, rinse them, and dry them. then eat them or plant them.

cubed roasted butternut squash 

makes about 4 cups (depending on the size of the squash) 

  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped into medium (1/2 inch) or small (1/4 inch) dice - either is fine
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil 
  • salt to taste
  • 3 tablespoons agave nectar or honey 
  • juice from 1 lemon  

preheat the oven to 400°F

in a bowl, toss the chopped squash with the olive oil. spread the squash cubes out on a sheet pan and roast in the oven until they are just soft and a little browned but not mushy, 15 to 20 minutes. season with salt, and drizzle with the agave and lemon juice. 

lemon dressing 

makes about 3/4 cup 

  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • salt to taste
  • chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, cilantro, or rosemary (optional) 

the key here is fresh-squeezed juice, not bottled. how much oil will you use? this all depends on how much juice you have squeezed, but you want to have more juice than olive oil, which is why we call it "seriously" citrus dressing. 

just whisk the citrus juice with the olive oil, stir in the garlic, and season with salt. add the chopped herbs if using. voilà.


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