1970s Thanksgiving Menu: Main Course

So now we are on to the main course portion of the menu. I talked about the appetizer portion here if you are interested. This is a Thanksgiving menu from Southern Living: The Holiday Cookbook. On the menu was turkey, harvest apple salad, dressing, sweet potato topped apples, corn soufflé, and Parmesan green beans with croutons. I did omit the soufflé as I said in the introduction post nobody has time to mess with a soufflé on Thanksgiving day. Don’t get me wrong, soufflés aren’t as hard as some people make them seem but they do need a little extra love and care. A big meal like Thanksgiving is not the time or the place. This is also a weird menu as it is the first one I have come across that did not include ANY cranberry sauce therefore I did not include it. Lastly, before we get on with the rest of the recipes, I did not make the turkey in the cookbook because it was just your average run-of-the-mill turkey recipe. If it was something unique I would have therefore I just made my normal turkey which is a version of this recipe from Rachel Ray.

First up is the harvest apple salad which to me conjures up certain images of a bountiful salad chock full of the best fruits and veggies that fall has to offer. So I was surprised (but not very shocked) that it ended up being chopped-up apples and pieces of cube cream cheese floating in a base of lemon gelatin and applesauce. I am not averse to a gelatin salad as I have made a few on this blog but this one was kind of lacked luster. Now I did have to make a quick switch for this recipe as the original one called for pickled crab apples. Well, that was not an easy ingredient to find so I just sub in a chopped apple. That pickle flavor may have been the thing that made the dish but we will never know.

The dressing is just a good basic dressing. Nothing special but it would also get no complaints at a Thanksgiving dinner table. This dressing is also perfect to add things to. Like in my family, we always do a sausage dressing and you could easily add that or nuts and cranberries to this to make it your own.

Next up is the sweet potato-topped apples. I had to do two small tweaks to this recipe. First, originally it called for Red Hot cinnamon candies which I could not find locally. Oh, I’m sure they are somewhere in Jacksonville just not where I shop I guess. I gave up (rather quickly) and just reworked the measurements for the syrup portion. Second I could not find large apples which are not surprising as I was competing with people trying to make their apple pies. So the apples I went with were rather small and the side effect of that is when I went to core them they kept splitting. They quickly became topped apples versus stuffed. I will admit the apples were what I was least excited about because my family just doesn’t do sweet potato casserole topped with marshmallows. I only remember it at one Thanksgiving and it was because one of my Aunts brought it. That being said I thought this was rather good. I would like to try making it without the syrup and topping the sweet potatoes with a little extra brown sugar and chopped pecans instead of the marshmallows.

The green beans were quite good but they have to be served immediately once you add in the vinegar mixture. It is because the little stove top croutons that get made for this dish can become quite soggy and have an unappealing texture if it sits too long. If it will be sitting for a bit I would set aside the croutons and top the green beans with them right before serving. I would like to try this one with fresh green beans and add a little chopped garlic as well as other kinds of vinegar.

All in all this main course was just as easy to make as the 1963 one from last year. Though some of the ingredients did cause me a little trouble. I don’t think this was very planned out though. Four items had to be in the oven around the same time if I did do the corn soufflé. Not everyone has a lot of oven space. Though it was still fun to get another perspective on Thanksgiving from another decade.

Harvest Apple Salad

  • Servings: 8 servings
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A gelatin salad featuring apples, cream cheese and lemon gelatin.

source: Southern Living: The Holiday Cookbook


  • 1 3 oz package of lemon gelatin
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 1-lb jar unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 apple
  • 4 oz cream cheese, cut in cubes
  • Optional: Extra apples and lemon juice for garnish.


  1. In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the gelatin in the hot water.
  2. Stir in the applesauce, salt and lemon juice and then chill until slightly thickened. This can vary in time it can be anywhere from an hour to two or more. You want it be the constancy of a barbecue sauce.
  3. Core and chop the apple in small pieces and mix into the thicken gelatin with the cubed cream cheese. Pour into the dish you want to serve it in.
  4. Chill until firm. Garnish with extra apples slices that have been mixed in lemon juice if desired.


  • Servings: 8 servings
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A simple and basic dressing recipe.

source: Southern Living: The Holiday Cookbook


  • 4 cups stuffing cubes
  • 4 cups corn bread, crumbled
  • 1/2 parsley flakes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon sage
  • 1/2 cup finely diced celery
  • 1/2 cup finely diced onion
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 4 eggs


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large mixing bowl mix all ingredients together, adding extra chicken broth or water, if needed, until it is fairly moist.
  3. Spoon into a 9×13 pan.
  4. Bake for 40 minutes or until it has started to brown on top.

Sweet Potato Topped Apples

  • Servings: 8 servings
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Sweet potato casserole top off a baked apple.

source: Southern Living: The Holiday Cookbook


  • 4 apples, cored and cut in half
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1 can sweet potatoes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 8 large marshmallows


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large saucepan that can hold all the apples, combine the sugar, cinnamon and the water and over medium heat cook for about 15 minutes until the sugar is dissolved and the syrup has thickened stirring occasionally.
  3. Turn down the heat to a simmer and place in the apples cut side down and simmer for about five to ten minutes.
  4. While the apples are simmering, mix together the sweet potatoes, salt, brown sugar, and chopped pecans.
  5. In a baking dish, careful place in the apples cut side up and equally divided the sweet potato mixtures between the apples. Pour the remaining syrup in the saucepan over the apples and sweet potatoes.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes. Then place a marshmallow on top of each apple and bake for 5 more minutes or until marshmallows are brown.

Parmesan Beans with Croutons

  • Servings: 4 servings
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

An easy green bean side dish.

source: Southern Living: The Holiday Cookbook


  • 2 slices of bread, cubed into small pieces
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon minced onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 14 oz can cut green beans, drained
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese


  1. In a saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
  2. Sauté the bread cubes until brown.
  3. Mix together the remaining oil with vinegar, onion and salt.
  4. Add the beans to the bread cubes and pour over the vinegar mixtures.
  5. Heat through, stirring frequently.
  6. Place into a bowl and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese.
  7. Serve immediately.


5 thoughts on “1970s Thanksgiving Menu: Main Course

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.