A Table With A Story….for Friendsgiving

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Categories: Food & Dining

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World traveler and professional chef, Shannon Smith, owner of Beads and Basil.

I love November when the weather finally decides it’s fall, and I get to set a pretty table outside with leaves and autumn colors. For most people, November means Thanksgiving, which is a joyous occasion for many families, but a dreaded one for others. As a single mom, I only got to be with my children every other Thanksgiving, and the ones when I was without them were dreadfully sad.

Whoever invented Friendsgiving should be given an award because it’s the perfect solution to the many conflicts of Thanksgiving. Of course, the meaning is still the same: being thankful!  But, inviting people outside my family to a dinner in November while being thankful is a great recipe for a party. This year I decided to create a Friendsgiving table that represents many of the friends (and family) I love so much. I’m much more of a cook than I am a table decorator, so I decided I would use pieces on the table that were given to me or I had collected from my travels. The guests who were invited to my Friendsgiving dinner were asked to bring something to the table that was special to them and had a story. My friend Joe had just opened a floral shop in my hometown and asked if he could bring the flowers. I was thrilled he chose roses instead of mums and other fall flowers. The vases were given to him by his sister. For the table runner, I used a scarf I had received from my friend in Australia who is a weaver, and the china was my grandmother’s who was an avid entertainer. I love to mix metals on tables (and everywhere else), so I used brass flatware from India, and sterling silver napkin rings from my estate sale finds. The gold water glasses were brought by a guest who had inherited them from his grandmother, and the crystal serving bowls had been my mother’s. Are you getting the idea?  Even though it sounds like a mismatched table of hand-me-downs, it’s actually a table full of stories and tales that provides endless conversation for everyone.

Not everyone at my table knows one another, but at the end of the meal, we will have all heard the stories of what everyone brought, whether it’s part of the table decoration or the salad Chris brought that his aunt made for every Thanksgiving his entire life!  Being thankful is something I strive for every day of the year, but gathered around a table with dear friends in November fills me with a heart packed with gratitude.

Harvest Salad

Serves 6-8


  • 1 head of romaine lettuce, washed and chopped
  • 1 apple, sliced thinly
  • 1 butternut squash
  • 1/4 cup olive oil for drizzling over squash
  • 1 pomegranate
  • 3 ounces goat cheese
  • 1/2 cup toasted pecans
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice butternut squash in half lengthwise. Peel both halves ad remove seeds and membrane with a spoon and knife. Slice squash thinly into 1” pieces. Place pieces on the baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 35-40 minutes, or until golden and starting to crisp. Let cool.

Squeeze pomegranate, pierce with a skewer and allow the juice to fall into a glass (Drink the juice, it’s good for you). Slice pomegranate in half. Using a wooden spoon, hammer the outside of each half, allowing seeds to fall into a bowl. I prefer to do this in the sink to prevent a huge mess. Reserve 1/2 cup of seeds.

For the dressing:  combine olive oil, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar and 1/4 tsp. each of salt and pepper. Shake to combine.

In a large bowl, add lettuce, apple slices, pomegranate seeds, 1 cup of squash slices, pecans and torn pieces of goat cheese. Add dressing and toss.

Harvest Salad

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