Matthew Lightner is the chef at Ninebark, a Napa Valley restaurant featuring forward-thinking, California-focused cuisine. Lightner has been awarded two Michelin stars and opened the restaurant Atera in TriBeCa, New York before helping open Ninebark. Popular Science spoke with him about his Thanksgiving plans for this year.
What are you eating and/or cooking for Thanksgiving?
I’m not sure how much I’ll be partaking in Thanksgiving, since I just opened up a restaurant and it’d be nice to get a break. But one thing I was thinking that I haven’t seen a lot of is a Thanksgiving dinner with a Mediterranean-style table.
I think it’d be a fun spin on Thanksgiving with more citrus, more spices, lots of little salads, and dips and spreads. One of the great things about big communal holidays is snacking, so I might make a hummus or sour cream dip for sharing.
I like the idea of slow roasting the turkey with some Indian influence, using cumins and corianders. A healthy side that feels very autumnal to me is dolmas: grape vine leaves stuffed with rice and other fillings, and served with yogurt. I might make the rice stuffing with some cooked livers of the turkey, along with cinnamon, cloves, and other spices we associate with fall and warm flavors. Another side might be a Moroccan-style bean dish with pine nuts, raisins, and lots of fresh herbs.
For dessert, I might make a pecan or walnut pie but with more spices and a super flakey crust, kind of like what’d you find on baklava, served with cinnamon whipped cream.