14450 A UF holiday turkey
A UF holiday turkey

Family Features

Most great holiday gatherings start with great food and end with quality time spent with loved ones. This holiday season, rely on simple recipes that let you spend less time in the kitchen and more time celebrating special moments with family and friends.

As a holiday host, it may be tempting to explore complicated new recipes to lend a festive air to your seasonal celebrations. However, with the right ingredients, a simple recipe can be equally impressive. Delicious holiday dishes start with premium ingredients like Bertolli Olive Oils, which offer enough versatility to be a must-have kitchen accessory throughout the holiday season and onward. From soups to main dishes to desserts, the rich, quality flavor works for nearly every culinary occasion.

After a long day of checking items off your holiday shopping list, there’s almost nothing better than a warm bowl of quick and easy Rustic Minestrone. This vegetarian classic is the perfect mix of marinara blended with aged cheeses, kale, zucchini and beans. One of the best parts: It can be on the table in 10 minutes, meaning less time cooking and more time spent stringing up holiday lights with family.

If you’re looking for a simple way to put a new twist on your turkey, take it to the next level with a seasonal brine made with sweet Riesling, garlic cloves, thyme, fresh cranberries and olive oil. It’s a hands-off way to make a tried-and-true dish a little more special.

Finally, when it’s time to wind down the evening, delight guests by bringing back a classic dessert: chocolate chip banana bread. Served slightly warm with a side of fresh whipped cream or vanilla bean ice cream, it’s a sweet finish to any gathering that family and friends are sure to love.

Find more simple recipes to enjoy during the holidays at http://www.bertolli.com.

Cranberry Riesling Brined Turkey

1 quart water

6 bay leaves

2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns

1 tablespoon mustard seeds

1 1/2 cups kosher salt

1 bottle (750 milliliters) Riesling wine

2 large shallots, thinly sliced, divided

8 cloves garlic, crushed but left in skins

1 bunch fresh thyme, divided

2 cups fresh cranberries, slightly crushed, divided

1turkey (16 pounds), giblet package and neck removed

ice water, for covering turkey

1/2 cup Bertolli Mild Olive Oil

salt, to taste

pepper, to taste

In pot, bring water, bay leaves, peppercorns, mustard seeds and kosher salt to boil. Stir until salt is dissolved. Cool to room temperature.

Pour brine into 5-gallon stock pot or container. Pour in wine then add one shallot, garlic, thyme (reserving some for stuffing turkey) and 1 cup cranberries. Slowly lower in turkey.

Pour ice water into pot to cover turkey. Place lid on pot and refrigerate at least 24 hours.

Heat oven to 500 F. Remove turkey from brine, pat dry and stuff with reserved shallot, thyme and cranberries.

Place turkey in roasting pan. Generously massage olive oil into skin of turkey. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste. Use kitchen twine to tie legs together so turkey will keep its shape. Place in roasting pan and roast 20 minutes. Lightly brush skin again with olive oil, reduce heat to 350 F and roast until internal temperature reaches 155-160 F on meat thermometer.

Allow turkey to rest, loosely covered with foil, 30 minutes before carving.

Rustic Minestrone

3 tablespoons Bertolli Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided

1 small zucchini, sliced in 1/2-inch half moons

2 cups tightly packed, thinly sliced Tuscan kale leaves

1 jar (23 ounces) Bertolli Rustic Cut Three Cheese with Aged Asiago, Romano and Parmesan Sauce

1 carton (32 ounces) vegetable broth

1 can (15 ounces) cannellini beans, rinsed

1/3cup shaved Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

In 6-quart pot over medium-high heat, heat 2 teaspoons oil. Add zucchini and kale; cook, stirring frequently, about 1-2 minutes, or until kale begins to wilt. Reduce heat to medium; add sauce, broth and beans. Simmer 5-7 minutes, or until heated. Top with shaved cheese before serving.

Tips: Substitute garbanzo beans, kidney beans, pinto beans or tri-bean blend for cannellini beans. For heartier soup, add 3 cups (9 ounces) refrigerated tortellini pasta with broth and beans. Simmer soup 8-10 minutes more, or until pasta is cooked through.

Chocolate Chunk Banana Bread

(Recipe courtesy of Justin Schuble on behalf of Bertolli Olive Oil)

3/4 cup Bertolli Olive Oil, plus additional for coating pan

3 ripe medium bananas, divided

1/2 cup applesauce

1 large egg

1 large egg white

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks or chips

1/4 cup nut spread

Heat oven to 350 F.

Coat 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with olive oil.

In mixing bowl, mash 2 bananas. Add applesauce, egg, egg white and vanilla to bananas and whisk.

In separate bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Slowly add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix. Add olive oil slowly and mix until combined.

Fold in chocolate chunks. Pour batter into loaf pan.

Heat nut spread in microwave until it reaches pourable consistency. Swirl spread into top of batter. Thinly slice long, flat strips of banana. Add slices to top of batter for decoration.

Place loaf pan in oven and bake 1 hour. Remove bread and cool before slicing.

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