June 26, 2017

Simple, Real Food: Tasty Thanksgiving Veggie Recipes

Roasted Brussels sprouts are a wonderful idea for Thanksgiving dinner.

Roasted Brussels sprouts are a wonderful idea for Thanksgiving dinner.

The holidays are just around the corner and I know many of us become overwhelmed and stressed by the amount of preparation it takes to put Thanksgiving dinner on the table.  No matter what holiday you celebrate or how many people you gather, there are some helpful tips on how to take the stress out of the meal.

First of all plan your menus ahead, the sooner the better.  Write lists of what you have to prepare, how you want to set the table, shopping lists and what days you can begin which part of the meal.  I always make the dessert weeks before and freeze it if possible or at least two days ahead and then heat it up when needed.  Since it is chilly at night you can store some items in the garage such as root vegetables, fruits, prepared pies (the day before) to free up space in your refrigerator.

Certain dishes such as stuffing, cranberry sauce, pureed vegetables, mashed potatoes can be prepared this weekend and stored in the freezer or two to three days ahead.

I recommend my version of Thanksgiving and Christmas, which is to assign each guest a dish and leave you with just the entrée.  This has worked for many years at our house and everyone enjoys being part of the meal.

This year we are a small group of six and chose to omit the turkey for a change and will be serving plenty of traditional side dishes and a vegetarian entrée.  We have enjoyed turkey for a million years and thought it would be nice for a change.  Why not try something new?

Here are my easy to make sides that can be prepared ahead, as well as a wonderful vegetarian entrée or delicious appetizer if you prefer.

Remember to have fun, it’s all about the people and being together and any effort you make no matter how small will be appreciated.

Scalloped Potatoes

Serves 12

Ingredients

6 oz. cheddar cheese, grated

½ cup grated parmesan

2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled

1 ½ tsp. salt

½ tsp. pepper

1 small onion, chopped

3 Tb. all purpose flour

2 Tb. unsalted butter

2 cups milk, low-fat or whole

Procedure

  1. Heat the oven to 400. Butter a 13x9x2 inch baking dish.
  2. Mix the cheeses and set aside. Cut the potatoes in half crosswise and place in a large saucepan of salted cold water. Bring to a boil over medium high heat and then drain. Allow to cool. Slice the potatoes into ¼ inch slices.
  3. Arrange half of the potatoes in overlapping slices on the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle with ½ the salt and pepper, half the chopped onion, the flour and half the cheeses. Dot with the butter. Arrange another layer of potatoes on top, the remaining onion, salt, pepper.
  4. Heat the milk in a small saucepan until just about to boil. Pour over the potatoes and cover with foil. Bake for 1¼ hours. Uncover and sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top. Bake another 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and let it sit for 15 minutes before cutting.

This recipe can be made three days ahead and stored in the refrigerator covered with plastic wrap. Reheat in a 300 degree oven for 20 minutes before serving.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Serves 8

Ingredients

2 pints brussel sprouts, trimmed and halved*

2 leeks, sliced in thin rounds

3 cloves garlic, peeled and halved

1 tsp. cumin seeds

2 Tb. olive oil

4 sprigs thyme, chopped

Salt and pepper

½ pound bacon, cut into large dice (optional)

Procedure

  1. Heat the oven to 375. Combine the sprouts, leeks, garlic, cumin, thyme and olive oil to lightly coat. Season with salt and pepper on a large baking sheet. Toss well and roast until tender about 45 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile heat a large skillet over medium heat and cook the bacon until crisp. Drain on paper towels and add to the brussel sprouts before serving. Serve hot or room temperature.

*Asparagus, cauliflower or red and yellow peppers can be added or substituted

This recipe can be made three days ahead and stored in the refrigerator covered with plastic wrap. Reheat in a 300 degree oven for 20 minutes before serving.

Stuffed Acorn Squash with Parsley Walnut Pesto

Serves 8

Ingredients

Olive oil

2 acorn squash, halved, seeded and cut in half

2 cups Italian parsley, washed, stems removed

1/2 cup walnut pieces

3 cloves garlic, peeled

1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/2 cup olive oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

Procedure

  1. Heat the oven to 375.
  2. Drizzle some olive oil on the cut sides of the acorn squash. Place cut side down on a baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes until tender. Allow to cool slightly.
  3. Combine the parsley, walnuts, garlic and parmesan in a food processor and blend until smooth, add the oil slowly with the machine running and season well with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Cut the squash into wedges and spoon some of the pesto into the squash shells. Bake for 10 minutes until the filling is hot. Serve warm.

This recipe can be made three days ahead and stored in the refrigerator covered with plastic wrap. Reheat in a 300 degree oven for 20 minutes before serving.

Amanda Cushman

Amanda Cushman

Editor’s Note: Amanda Cushman of Simple Real Food Inc., is a culinary educator who has cooked professionally for over 30 years.  She has taught corporate team building classes for over 15 years for a variety of Fortune 500 companies including Yahoo, Nike and Google.  She began her food career in the eighties and worked with Martha Stewart and Glorious Foods before becoming a recipe developer for Food and Wine magazine as well as Ladies Home Journal.  Having lived all over the United States including Boston, NYC, Miami and Los Angeles, she has recently returned to her home state of Connecticut where she continues to teach in private homes as well as write for local publications. 

Amanda teaches weekly classes at White Gate Farm and Homeworks and is also available for private classes.  Her cookbook; Simple Real Food can be ordered at Amazon as well as through her website www.amandacooks.com 

For more information, click here to visit her website.

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