Update your Thanksgiving menu with new veggie dishes.
It’s Thanksgiving … soon! And it’s time to think about food! Of course! With the holiday so close, why not add some interest to your traditional meal by changing up some of the side dish staples. Without including mashed potatoes (be sure to drain potatoes well and mash them while they’re hot) and sweet potatoes (mash these, add a bit of butter or margarine, salt, pepper and top them with a crumbly mixture of about ½ cup each of melted butter, brown sugar, flour and dried oats, bake until bubbly and golden, in a preheated oven 350°F.), we’re offering some riffs on your green vegetable, your corn casserole and more.
This year, we may not find everything we want to make this holiday (even turkeys!). I’m optimistic they will appear in our grocer’s coolers, but if not, the holiday is about giving thanks, not a specific food.
Orange Roasted Asparagus with Fresh Tarragon and Cayenne
- 2 pounds asparagus, tough bottoms trimmed (thin asparagus is preferable)
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- ¼ cup fresh orange juice
- Grated peel or zest of 1 orange
- Ground cayenne pepper to taste
- Kosher salt and pepper to taste
- 3 Tbsp. fresh chopped tarragon
Preheat oven to 450°F. If the asparagus is thick, use a vegetable peeler to peel the large bottom-halves (the purpose is to make the asparagus of uniform thickness). Arrange on a baking sheet with edges.
Combine the oil, juice and zest in a small bowl and whisk well. Drizzle this mixture over the asparagus. Roast the asparagus for 8-10 minutes (8 minutes for thin asparagus; 10 for thick) and remove from the oven (don’t worry if the asparagus does not looked cooked — it will continue to cook as it cools). Transfer the asparagus to a serving dish and season lightly with salt and pepper and cayenne and pour any pan juices over the asparagus. Sprinkle cayenne and tarragon. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 6 servings.
This makes a velvety gravy, not thick or gummy. For thicker gravy, cook longer, whisking occasionally.
- 3 Tbsp. flour
- Turkey pan drippings
- 1 cup water, white wine or a combination
- 1-2 cups chicken broth (canned is fine)
- Salt and pepper to taste
Combine flour, turkey pan drippings and water, white wine or a combo in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk continuously for 2 minutes. Whisk in 1 cup of chicken broth, bring to a boil and cook to desired consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then serve. Makes 3 cups of gravy.
Brown Sugar Ginger Curry Carrots
- 2 pounds carrots
- ¼ cup butter or margarine
- 2 tsp. minced fresh ginger root (peeled or not peeled)
- 2 Tbsp. good-quality curry powder (optional)
- 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- Kosher salt and pepper to taste
Peel carrots and cut diagonally into ¼-inch ovals. Transfer to a large skillet. Add enough water to barely cover the carrots. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Drain the carrots and set aside.
Melt butter in the skillet and add ginger, curry, vinegar and sugar; cook, stirring frequently over medium heat until the sugar is melted. Add the carrots back to the pan and cook them, turning them gently with a heat-proof spatula or spoon until they are well coated and most of the liquid has evaporated. Add salt and pepper to taste. Makes 6 servings.
Pureed Squash Soup
Serve this in teacups or “shot glasses” as an appetizer, if desired. This smooth-as-silk soup is so elegant and, at the same time, easy enough to make all the time. If squash isn’t your thing, try making the soup with almost any vegetable or root, such as carrots, sweet or regular potatoes, onions … you name it.
- 3 Tbsp. butter
- 2 cups chopped onions
- 3 pounds peeled, cubed winter squash, seeds removed (acorn or butternut are good choices. In a pinch, I have used frozen pureed squash.)
- 4 cups water, chicken or
- ½ tsp. nutmeg
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste
- Optional toppings
- Pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
- A drizzle of whipping cream or half-and-half
Place butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook, stirring for 3 minutes until the onions are softened. Add the squash, water, nutmeg, salt and pepper and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and cook for about an hour or until the squash is very tender. (This is very important — if the squash is not very soft, the soup will not puree smoothly.)
Let the soup cool slightly and ladle some of it into the bowl of a food processor or the pitcher of a blender. Puree the soup until very smooth. Place the pureed soup in a clean pot and repeat the process until all the soup is pureed. Taste, adjust the seasonings and reheat until hot. To serve, ladle the soup in the bowl and garnish with the blue cheese and toasted nuts. Makes 6-8 servings.
Indian Corn Souffle
- 6 large or 8 medium ears of corn (peeled) or 8 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed
- 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 small Poblano chile pepper
- 5 Tbsp. butter or margarine
- ¼ cup flour
- 1½ tsp. sugar
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1/8 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
- 1¾ cup milk or chicken broth
- 4 large eggs
Grill the corn over an open flame or on a grill until lightly charred on all sides. Allow to cool to the touch and, using a sharp knife, remove the kernels to a medium bowl. If using frozen corn, toss the kernels with 2 Tbsp. olive oil and arrange on a rimmed baking sheet. Cook in a preheated 425F. oven, turning once or twice during cooking until the corn is lightly charred. Cool before using.
Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Spray a 3-quart, shallow casserole (or baking dish) with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
Make the white sauce: In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Whisk in the flour, sugar, salt, cumin and cayenne. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Slowly whisk in the milk and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook the mixture slowly, stirring or whisking frequently, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk. Slowly whisk in the white sauce. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the corn and peppers. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Gently transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish and bake for 30 minutes or until the soufflé is set and golden. Serve hot, immediately or warm (the souffle will deflate). Makes 8 servings.
Baby Spinach, Shallot and Pear Salad with Pear Vinaigrette
½ diced, medium ripe Bartlett pear, unpeeled
6 Tbsp. dry white wine
3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp. chopped shallots
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
- ¾ pound haricot vert (thin French green beans), trimmed
- 6 cups fresh baby spinach (about 6 ounces)
- 3 ripe unpeeled Bartlett pears, quartered, cored and cut into ¼-inch slices
- ¾ cup blue cheese (any variety), optional
- 1 cup walnuts, toasted
Make the dressing: Place the pear in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth. Add the wine, lemon juice, shallots and mustard and pulse to combine. With the motor running, drizzle in the oil through the feed tube. When all is processed, season to taste with salt and pepper.
Make the salad: Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Drop the haricot vert into the water and cook for 2 minutes, or until tender-crisp and still very green.
Transfer the beans to a colander and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain well.
Combine the beans, spinach, pears, blue cheese and walnuts in a large bowl and toss well. Add the dressing and toss. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve. Makes 8 servings.
Brussels Sprouts Almondine with Shallots and Cranberries
This is by far my favorite side dish, topped with sauteed buttery almond slices.
- ½ cup dried cranberries or cherries
- 1 cup boiling water
- 2-3 pounds fresh brussels sprouts (trimmed and halved, if large; keep the loose leaves)
- 3 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 cup shallots or red onion, chopped
- 1 cup sliced almonds
- 3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
Place cranberries in a small boil. Pour boiling water over and allow to soak while you prepare the rest of the recipe.
Combine the brussels sprouts in oil in a large bowl and toss well. Add the shallots and toss again. Arrange the sprouts on a rimmed baking sheet and cook for 30 minutes until cooked through and lightly charred. Transfer to the same large bowl and set aside.
Lower the oven heat to 325ºF. Add the almonds to the same rimmed baking sheet (do not clean), and toast for 5-10 minutes (check on them while they are baking to ensure they don’t burn).
Drain the cranberries and add to the brussels sprouts. Add the balsamic vinegar and lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately or warm in a 250ºF oven for 20 minutes before serving. Makes 6-8 servings.