Thanksgiving Table
(iStock)

These recipes are some of Annabel Cohen’s favorite side dishes that are perfect with whatever you eat.

As I often say, man (and woman) cannot live on turkey alone. But who knows how many turkeys are available this year? If entire birds are not available, you might be able to purchase turkey breast roasts or drumsticks of whatever you may find.

Of course, if turkeys are unavailable, you can eat chicken, plain turkey breast or juicy beef steaks. I’ve included here some of my favorite side dishes that are perfect with whatever you eat.

These recipes usually serve about eight people — but if you’re like me and make four, five, six or more side dishes, these recipes can “stretch” to serve even more “pilgrims.” 

Sweet Potato Puree with Praline Topping

Ingredients

  • 14 cups (about 5 pounds) sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and cubed
  • ½ cup half-and-half or non-dairy creamer
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

Topping:

  • ½ cup flour
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup (½ stick) butter or margarine, cut into small pieces
  • ½ cup chopped pecans (optional)

Directions

Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray a 9- by 13-inch baking dish (or equivalent) with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.

Prepare the potatoes: Place cut potatoes into a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and cook until tender, for about 12-15 minutes (check tenderness with a fork). Drain the potatoes in a colander. Set aside.

While the potatoes are draining, combine half-and-half, maple syrup, vanilla, salt and egg in a large bowl and whisk well. Add the potatoes and beat with a fork lightly until the mixture is slightly chunky. Transfer this mixture to the prepared baking dish and spread. Set aside.

Make the topping: Combine flour and sugar in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times. Add the butter pieces and pulse a few more times. Add the pecans and pulse a couple of times to combine. Sprinkle this mixture over the potatoes.

Cover the dish with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Uncover and bake for 25 minutes more.

Makes 12 or more servings.

Wild Rice with Leeks, Corn and Chickpeas

Ingredients 

  • 1½ cups uncooked dark wild rice
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cups finely chopped leeks (white part only)
  • ½ cup water
  • 1½ cups fresh or frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • 1½ cups chickpeas, cooked and drained
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tsp. fresh finely grated lemon zest or orange zest
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Bring 5 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan over high heat. Add rice and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered; cook until rice is tender, but still a bit chewy, about 45 minutes.

Transfer to a strainer and drain, then transfer to a medium bowl.

While the rice is cooking, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet. Add the leeks and saute for 2 minutes. 

Add water and cook until the leeks are tender, about 6 minutes. Add the leeks, corn, chickpeas, parsley and zest to the rice and toss well. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve warm or at room temperature. Adjust to taste with more salt. Makes 8 or more servings.

Stuffing in a Pumpkin

Serve this stuffing in a hollowed pumpkin for a dramatic presentation.

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup (½ stick) butter or margarine
  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • 1½ cups celery, chopped 
  • 2 cups mushrooms, thinly sliced (optional)
  • 12 cups good-quality coarse crumbled toasted bread (or bagged stuffing bread)
  • 1 tsp. dried sage
  • 3-4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

Cut off the top (stem end) of a medium-sized pumpkin (keep the “lid”). Scoop out the seeds and fibers. Set aside (you may do this a day ahead and keep the pumpkin with lid chilled, a cold garage is a natural refrigerator).

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Heat butter or margarine in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and celery and saute until very soft, about 8 minutes. Add the mushrooms, if using, and cook, stirring every few minutes, until the mushrooms are softened and have released all their liquid.

Combine all the stuffing ingredients (including the liquid from the mushrooms) — except broth, salt and pepper — in a large bowl and toss well. Pour 2 cups broth over the mixture and toss well with your hands. 

Add more liquid, as needed, to make for a moist mixture (not wet or soggy). Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Spray a large baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Transfer the stuffing to the dish and cover with foil. Bake for 1 hour. Remove the foil and bake for 20 minutes more, until the top is browned. Transfer this mixture to the room temperature pumpkin, replace the pumpkin “lid” and serve.

Alternately: Cook the stuffing in the pumpkin: This must be made the same day you plan to eat the stuffing. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Spray a baking dish large enough to accommodate the pumpkin with nonstick cooking spray. Spoon the stuffing into the cavity of the pumpkin and replace the pumpkin “lid.”

Bake until the pumpkin is brown and softened (it will collapse a bit), about 1 hour. Transfer the pumpkin to a serving dish and serve hot.

Spiced Orange Pecan Cranberry Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 can (about 14 ounces) mandarin oranges with juice
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • 1 (about 12 ounces) package fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, lightly toasted in a 325°F oven for 10 minutes
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. ground nutmeg

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature before serving. Makes 8 servings.   

Previous articleThrough Art, Writing and Teaching, Jay Saper Honors His Jewish Heritage
Next articleGift Guide 2021: Still Looking for the Perfect Present? Try One of These