Kwanzaa, observed from December 26th to January 1st, is a relatively young holiday. It celebrated its 50-year anniversary in 2016. The seven-day celebration highlights seven principals: unity, self-determination, responsibility, community, purpose, creativity, and faith. Throw a joyous Kwanzaa celebration for your friends and family with the following Kwanzaa recipes and party ideas.
The traditional Kwanzaa holiday colors are red, green, and black. Decorate your table with colorful cloths and art objects that you treasure. Display a kinara or set of seven candles, which is a traditional Kwanzaa symbol. The candles represent each day of the holiday as well as the seven principals mentioned above.
The name "Kwanzaa" is derived from the phrase “matunda ya kwanza” which means “first fruits” in Swahili. Each family celebrates Kwanzaa in its own way, but celebrations often include a large traditional meal.
For the adventurous chef, explore Kwanzaa recipes that feature African and Southern flavors, such as grits, black-eyed peas, sweet potato mash, collard greens, fried chicken, and okra.
If you’re more tentative in the kitchen, don’t worry! The essence of a Kwanzaa menu is hearty and welcoming, so consider serving your favorite homemade comfort foods. Following this theme, I used the traditional Kwanzaa recipes I viewed online as inspiration for these two casseroles, crafted from ingredients I had readily at hand.
Cheesy Pasta Bake with Turkey, Spinach, and Tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 lb ground turkey, browned
- 1 can diced tomatoes (8 oz)
- 1-2 cups fresh spinach, roughly chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 box pasta with cheese mix
- 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Prepare boxed pasta with cheese per the box directions and set aside.
In a saucepan, heat the olive oil. Brown the ground turkey; season to taste with salt and pepper. Add a can of diced tomatoes and mix to heat thoroughly. Turn off heat, add spinach, and stir until leaves are wilted.
Pour meat mixture into a glass baking dish and spread to edges. Top with prepared cheesy pasta. Sprinkle shredded cheese on top of pasta.
Set the oven to broil. Put the meat and pasta mixture in the oven to broil until the cheese is melted, approximately 5-6 minutes. Carefully remove from the oven, and let cool slightly before serving.
Green Bean & White Corn Casserole
- 2 (8 oz) cans cut green beans
- 1 (8 oz) can white corn
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 can cream of celery soup
- 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt or garlic salt 1 cup Ritz crackers, crushed 1/2 stick butter, melted
In a large bowl, mix the first seven ingredients and place in a casserole dish.
In a medium bowl, combine crushed crackers and melted butter. Sprinkle cracker mixture over the bean mixture.
Bake at 350 degrees, about 30-35 minutes, until bubbly.
More Kwanzaa Menu Ideas
For non-stop inspiration, turn to the recipe section of Plum Deluxe. This Savory Butternut Squash Casserole would make an excellent dish for your Kwanzaa party. A tantalizing treat, it will wow your guests with rich flavors of thyme, white cheddar, and pecan.
Or try a chicken recipes for an amazing main dish, like the Herb Crusted Roasted Chicken with Gravy. A simple and classic recipe using an olive oil and rosemary rub, the chicken is cooked at high temps for crispy skin that seals in moisture.
Many Kwanzaa recipes feature the humble sweet potato. This versatile root vegetable can be mashed, sliced and baked, used in sweet or savory dishes, and even made into a delicious pie.
The spirit of Kwanzaa is about reflection, recommitting to ourselves and our communities, and sharing our abundance with loved ones. With these Kwanzaa party ideas, your guests will be blessed with great food and great company. Joyous Kwanzaa!