Recipes by Jeff Jackson
Photos by Leigh Beisch

Autumn Minestra Soup
Fresh Spinach Salad with Creamy Horseradish Dressing
Roasted Cornish Hens with Apple, Date, and Almond Stuffing
Baked Faro with Pancetta and Herbs
Broccoli with Fresh Laurel
Parsnip and Fennel Purée
Pear and Persimmon Galette

For Jeff Jackson, executive chef of the luxe Lodge at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, California, Thanksgiving celebrates the natural bounty of his adopted region, which boasts a year-round growing season. Although rigorously trained in classic French techniques (think lots of sauces and butter), in Southern California’s balmy climes Jackson’s style has become simpler, more about showing off the fresh-from-the-field produce he gets from local markets and farmers. Here, he shares an intimate and easy holiday dinner menu—one that’s inspired by traditional Thanksgiving classics and updated with creative seasonal ingredients. His simple, light, and sublime variation on the classic French apple galette, for example (page 44), showcases two of his fall favorites: Fuyu persimmons and Bosc pears. We daresay that it—or any of the recipes here—may become one of your new holiday favorites.

Roasted Cornish Hens with Apple, Date, and Almond Stuffing
Serves 8 / Cornish hens make a fun presentation, but this fantastic, breadless stuffing works just as well with turkey. Simply stuff the turkey lightly and adjust cooking time based on size. Serving tips: Mound leftover stuffing in a heatproof bowl; reheat and serve alongside poultry. Use kitchen shears to cut each cooked hen lengthwise.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4-6 Fuji apples (2 pounds), chopped
10 Medjool dates, pits removed, chopped
1 lemon, zest and juice
1 orange, zest and juice
1/2 cup unsalted roasted almonds, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
4 Cornish hens, 1 1/4 pounds each
Olive oil, for brushing

1. Melt butter in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. When sizzling, add apples and sauté, stirring occasionally, until brown but still crisp, 15-20 minutes. Add dates, zests, and juices; cook for 1 minute more. Remove from heat, cool, and stir in almonds and salt.

2. Mix onion, carrot, and celery; place on the bottom of a roasting pan.

3. Preheat oven to 475°. Remove and discard giblets and necks from hens. Rinse hens under cold water; pat dry. Trim excess fat. Season each cavity with salt and pepper, then loosely stuff with apple mixture. Truss hens. Place hens, breast-side up, on top of chopped vegetables. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast at 475° for 15 minutes; reduce heat to 400° and cook for an additional 35 minutes, or until juices run clear. Remove skin, if desired. Serve hens with additional apple stuffing on the side.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving (1/2 skinless hen, 3/4 cup apple stuffing):
Calories: 376 calories
% fat calories: 27
Fat: 12g
Saturated Fat: 3g
Cholesterol: 116mg
Protein: 27g
Carbohydrate: 44g
Fiber: 7g
Sodium: 97mg

Parsnip and Fennel Purée
Serves 8 / A rich and sophisticated update on mashed potatoes, with a hint of sweetness from the fennel.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 medium fennel bulb, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
6 medium parsnips (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 medium potato, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
2 cups low-sodium vegetable stock or broth
2 cups water
Butter, to taste

1. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add onion, fennel, and a little salt and pepper. Cover and gently cook until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes (do not brown). Add parsnips, potato, stock or broth, and water. Bring to a gentle boil and simmer, partially covered, until tender, about 20 minutes.

2. Strain vegetables. Purée in batches in a food processor until smooth. Adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, and a little more butter to taste.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:
Calories: 127 calories
% fat calories: 22
Fat: 3g
Saturated Fat: 2g
Cholesterol: 8mg
Protein: 2g
Carbohydrate: 24g
Fiber: 6g
Sodium: 109mg

Baked Faro with Pancetta and Herbs
Serves 8 / Ingredient tip: Faro (hulled spelt berries), an ancient, nutty grain, makes a delicious side dish. Look for it in specialty markets, Italian groceries, and well-stocked bulk bins. Prep tip: No need to remove small herb leaves from stems; they’ll fall off during cooking.

4 ounces pancetta or bacon, chopped
1 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups faro (hulled spelt berries), washed
3 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup Madeira wine
3 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
3 sprigs fresh thyme
3 sprigs fresh marjoram
2 dried bay leaves
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 325°. Over medium-high heat, sauté pancetta or bacon until crisp in a medium ovenproof saucepan with a lid. Pour off all but 1 teaspoon fat. Reduce heat to medium-low; add onion, carrot, celery, and garlic and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add all remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Cover, transfer to oven, and bake for 1 1/2 hours, until most of the liquid is absorbed and faro is tender. Remove herb stems and bay leaves before serving.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:
Calories: 214 calories
% fat calories: 24
Fat: 6g
Saturated Fat: 2g
Cholesterol: 14mg
Protein: 9g
Carbohydrate: 32g
Fiber: 4g
Sodium: 404mg

Autumn Minestra Soup
Serves 8 / With no weighty pasta, this vegetable-studded soup makes a lovely first course—or an excellent weeknight dinner. Prep tips: In place of the butter beans, you can also use shell beans (shelled, blanched, and peeled). For a higher broth ratio, add another cup of liquid to the mix.

2 cups arugula (about 3 ounces)
1 clove garlic
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 onions, thinly sliced or chopped
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 cup 3/4-inch cubes butternut squash
1 bunch (1 pound) broccoli spigarello or broccoli rabe, tough ends trimmed, roughly chopped
4 cups low-sodium vegetable stock or broth
1/2 cup cooked cannellini or garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup cooked butter beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup haricot verts or slender green/string beans, trimmed
Shaved Parmesan cheese curls and extra-virgin olive oil, for garnish

1. Blanch arugula; drain and cool in ice water. In a blender or food processor, grind arugula, 1 clove garlic, and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

2. In a large saucepan, heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and add onions and sliced garlic; cook over medium-low heat until translucent, 10 minutes. Add squash and broccoli spigarello or rabe; cook until greens are wilted, about 8 minutes. Add stock or broth and bring to a simmer; cook about 10 minutes.

3. Once flavors have blended, add cannellini or garbanzo beans, butter beans, and haricot verts or string beans. Return to a simmer, then remove from heat. Add arugula paste and stir. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into bowls and serve, garnished with Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of olive oil.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:
Calories: 139 calories
% fat calories: 42
Fat: 7g
Saturated Fat: 1g
Cholesterol: 0mg
Protein: 5g
Carbohydrate: 17g
Fiber: 5g
Sodium: 253mg

Fresh Spinach Salad with Creamy Horseradish Dressing
Serves 8 / Chef Jackson uses curly-leafed Savoy or Bloomsdale spinach, but regular spinach works too. The killer dressing gives the fresh ingredients a real kick.

1 medium bunch spinach
1/2 small red onion, shaved
1 carrot, peeled and julienned
1 small zucchini, julienned
1/2 cup whole or low-fat plain yogurt
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1-2 tablespoons freshly grated horseradish, to taste
Toasted pumpkin seeds, for garnish

1. Wash spinach thoroughly and trim tough ends. Tear leaves by hand into a large salad bowl. Add onion, carrot, and zucchini.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together yogurt, vinegar, and horseradish. Drizzle over salad and toss. Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds and serve.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:
Calories: 28 calories
% fat calories: 20
Fat: 1g
Saturated Fat: 0g
Cholesterol: 2mg
Protein: 2g
Carbohydrate: 4g
Fiber: 1g
Sodium: 48mg

Broccoli with Fresh Laurel
Serves 6-8 / Fresh laurel’s sweet fragrance lends a simple and elegant touch to steamed broccoli.

1 head broccoli (1 pound)
1 cup water
3-4 fresh laurel leaves (bay leaves)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cornstarch

1. Choose a nice round head of broccoli without much stem. Rinse thoroughly and trim stem. Hollow out the thick bottom stem with a sharp paring knife.

2. Place water, laurel leaves, butter, salt, and pepper in a stainless steel or copper pot that is just larger than broccoli. Put broccoli in pot, bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and steam until crisp-tender, 8-10 minutes. Remove broccoli to a serving platter; cover to keep warm.

3. Pour a little of remaining liquid into a small bowl and mix with cornstarch; return to pot and boil until mixture thickens slightly. Cut broccoli into spears and drizzle with sauce; serve immediately.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:
Calories: 61 calories
% fat calories: 55
Fat: 4g
Saturated Fat: 2g
Cholesterol: 10mg
Protein: 2g
Carbohydrate: 5g
Fiber: 2g
Sodium: 123mg

Pear and Persimmon Galette
Serves 8 / This lovely and surprisingly easy dessert celebrates these fall fruits’ prime season. Prep tip: A Japanese mandolin makes for easy slicing, but a sharp knife will work too. When you reach the pears’ core, remove with a melon baller.

3 tablespoons butter, divided
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3-4 small, firm Fuyu persimmons
4 small or 2 medium firm pears, such as Bosc
5 sheets phyllo dough, thawed
Mascarpone cheese, for garnish

Raise a glass To match the well-rounded flavors of the Cornish hens and Faro with Pancetta and Herbs, chef Jeff Jackson recommends the following California wines: a 2003 Pinot Noir by Calera, Reed Vineyard; or a 2005 Talbott Chardonnay from Sleepy Hollow Vineyard. To finish your celebration in style, uncork a Beringer Sauternes dessert wine.


1. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large ovenproof frying pan; spread butter evenly and sprinkle with sugar. Peel and slice persimmons into uniform, thin rounds. Peel pears; remove elongated neck portion (save for snacking). Slice remaining bulb-shaped portion into thin rounds the same size as persimmon slices, working quickly so that pears don’t turn brown.

2. Preheat oven to 375°. Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in a small bowl. Place one pear slice inside pan, touching its outermost edge. Then place a persimmon slice, overlapping half of the pear slice. Repeat, working toward pan’s center, until you have a complete disk of overlapping fruit. Brush lightly with melted butter. Layer phyllo sheets on top of fruit, brushing each layer with butter.

3. On stovetop over medium-high heat, cook galette until fruit is caramelized and outside edges are crisp, about 10 minutes. Transfer pan to oven and bake about 10 minutes, until phyllo is golden. If necessary, loosen galette edges with a spatula. Cover pan with a large serving plate, then carefully and quickly invert pan to remove galette. Rearrange any dislodged pieces. Serve warm, garnished with mascarpone cheese, if desired.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:
Calories: 182 calories
% fat calories: 24
Fat: 5g
Saturated Fat: 3g
Cholesterol: 11mg
Protein: 2g
Carbohydrate: 35g
Fiber: 5g
Sodium: 89mg