Don't ever tell Vanessa Hudgens how to throw a dinner party. The actress is a total pro, and we should all be taking our tips from her, thankyouverymuch.
E! News was able to witness those skills firsthand this week, when we had the opportunity to play fly on the wall during her very own Friendsgiving party. The starlet teamed up with Just Dance 2017 for the soiree, because she wanted to find a fun way to get everyone moving over the holidays—you know, to burn off all that turkey—and also to show off some of her very famous moves. (She even spent the first hour of the party doing just that! And spoiler alert: Her favorite track is "Single Ladies.")
While she admitted to us that her true holiday passion lies in everything Christmas ("I think the time of the year is just beautiful because it's so romantic," she gushed), her Turkey Day skills were certainly something to write home about. She teamed with Heirloom LA to serve up an entirely gluten-free (and mostly vegan!) menu to her special guests, with goodies like pumpkin gazpacho, radish and concord grape salad and pumpkin custard. Are you sensing a theme here? You should be.
In between enjoying bits of the Friendsgiving spread and sips of white wine she shared a few tips on keeping your holidays Vanessa-approved: Always go classic, for one, with staple items like thanksgiving and cranberries. Second, never skimp on the desserts. This year, she's already thinking about her cookie lineup. "Peanut butter cookies with a little Hershey's on top sounds so good to me right now," she dished. "Anything that is really cute and festive. I also would not mind trying to make gingerbread cookies. I'm open to trying new things."
In addition to the requisite turkey, Hudgens also treated her guests to a main dish of pumpkin risotto—and now she's treating you, dear readers, to the recipe. Vanessa is a self-professed pumpkin fanatic, a taste that's actually quite ironic if you ask her doctor.
"I'm actually supposed to be intolerant to pumpkin," she told E!. "I just found that out this year, but I don't know because I don't feel any different when I have it. I'm thinking maybe the test is wrong."
Just know that won't keep her from indulging in her Pumpkin Spice Lattes or this delicious main course! Read on to find out how to whip it up, and then gather your nearest and dearest to show them how much you care. Take it from Vanessa if you're considering a Friendsgiving of your own.
"Thanksgiving is with your family and it's great that you get to spend time with them, but you don't get to choose your family," she laughed. "So with Friendsgiving, you get to choose the people you want to spend it with. I think it's really important to slow down and take a second to be grateful for what you have."
And while slowing down may be a priority, this is one actress who has her hands full even when she's not hosting a fancy dinner party: Next up, working with the Just Dance development team in Paris to help design the look of an upcoming map in the game. But before all that, we feast!
Vanessa Hudgens' Favorite Friendsgiving Pumpkin Risotto by Heirloom LA
Serves 4-6 people
1 Gallon Soup Pot
Large mixing Bowl
Slotted Cooking Spoon (with holes)
Casserole Dish (about 8 inches by 8 inches)
2 Pumpkins or Large Butternut Squash, Peeled, Seeded and cut in large pieces about 1-2" cubes
***Pumpkin Varieties that work well: Acorn Squash, Butternut Squash, Kabocha, Sweet Dumpling)
2 Onions, peeled and diced
6 Garlic Cloves, peeled, sliced
8 cups Vegetable Stock or water
1 Cup Maple Syrup
1 Cup White Wine
1 Head of Green Kale, cleaned and sliced
1/2 Cup Pumpkin Seeds, Toasted lightly on olive oil and salt
3 Cups Uncooked Brown Rice
1 Cup Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 425 Degrees.
Line Baking Sheet with Aluminum Foil. In a large mixing bowl, combine the pumpkin, onions and garlic with ½ cup of olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix and transfer to baking sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until toasted on the tips and the pumpkin is tender. (Check by tasting or sticking a toothpick/knife into the pumpkin to see if it goes in and out easily) Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature.
In the soup pot, combine 6 cups of the vegetable stock/water, maple syrup, 1/2cup Olive Oil and white wine and bring to a boil for 3 minutes. Add rice, stir and reduce heat to a simmer. Cover with Aluminum Foil for 25 minutes or until "al dente" or desired tenderness. With your slotted spoon. Remove from heat and leave covered until you serve
With the remaining 2 cups of Vegetable Stock, add 50% of the roasted Pumpkin, Onion and Garlic Mix and boil for an additional 2 minutes. Blend until smooth.
Combine the Kale and remaining roasted Pumpkin in the Mixing Bowl.
Transfer rice to bake-able serving dish and cover with Pumpkin Puree, Roasted Pumpkin and Kale and transfer to the casserole dish and bake in oven until toasty on top.
Garnish with Roasted Pumpkin Seeds and a drizzle of Olive Oil to serve.