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Last-minute Thanksgiving touches: Fried herbs, candied lemon slices and more

Dress up your Thanksgiving dishes with these simple yet impressive additions.
/ Source: TODAY

Chef and author Sarah Grueneberg is stopping by the TODAY kitchen to share a few of her favorite last--minute Thanksgiving recipes from her new cookbook "Listen to Your Vegetables: Italian-Inspired Recipes for Every Season." She shows us how to dress up our dishes by making crispy fried herbs, sweet candied lemon slices, earthly pumpkin seed pesto and a versatile mushroom and fruit tart.

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This special little appetizer can easily be served at breakfast, brunch or as a pre-dinner treat. I really like the way fruit and mushrooms work together — the earthiness of mushrooms is so well complemented by sweet fruit. In the summer, you could switch out the strawberries for figs, peaches, apricots or plums, and in the cooler months, pears and apples would be delicious. I don't use puff pastry often, but I like keeping it in the freezer to make something special now and then without having to make dough from scratch.

Listen to your leftovers and let them tell you what should be on this dish. Buy a few packs of store-bought puff pastry (each box comes with two sheets) and build your own tart, getting the kids and family members involved. Using this recipe as a base to riff on, there are three simple elements to keep in mind while building this leftover tart:

Creamy base: Spread the pastry with pumpkin seed pesto, creamed corn, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc. to give the other toppings something to hold onto.

Textury goodness: Top your base with shredded or sliced turkey, green beans, sautéed mushrooms, leftover bacon from breakfast, ham or prime rib if you had a nontraditional meal, etc.

Fresh and bright finish: Top your tart with leftover cranberry sauce or preserves, fried herbs, pomegranate seeds, fresh-grated lemon zest, candied lemons and dressed arugula greens.

Fried Herbs

Fried Herbs

Sarah Grueneberg

I love frying herbs. I opt for heartier herbs like rosemary and sage because the oil toasts their flavor, changing their raw, often bitter flavor for complex earthy freshness. It's almost like they have been roasting alongside the bird the whole time. These fried herbs give a fun crunch and appearance to your veggie sides and dress up your carved turkey.

Candied Lemon Slices

Candied Lemon Slices

Sarah Grueneberg

I love having these candied lemons in the fridge 'cause they amp up so many dishes like fish, shrimp, chicken or turkey, and lots of different veggies. The lemon-scented simple syrup is also perfect for cocktails and iced tea, and I like to pour it over ice cream with blueberries.

Pumpkin Seed Pesto

Pumpkin Seed Pesto

Sarah Grueneberg

This atypical pesto is one of my favorites for winter because it has a sweet and warming flavor, even with the fresh sage and parsley in it. I love that the butternut squash stays kind of chunky, but it's cooked just enough that it also lends a creaminess to the pesto. This is a nut-free pesto, which is fantastic spread on a grilled cheese sandwich made with Gruyère, fontina or another Alpine cheese.

If you like those flavorful recipes, you should also try these:

Broccoli and Cheese Twice-Baked Potatoes