Who doesn’t love Thanksgiving dinner? I do, except for the way I feel after consuming so many carbs that I can barely make it off the couch. I guess that’s the point of a feast but it’s starting to feel excessive, wasteful and over the top. I’ve been looking for ways, not to reinvent a beloved tradition, but to tone it down a notch, slip in more vegetables and just make the whole event a tad healthier. Most of the main ingredients I used are available at the University Farmers Market.
Pan-Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Ingredients: 3 or 4 sweet potatoes, peeled or not, chopped into bite-sized pieces/ 1/3 cup virgin coconut oil/ 1t black sesame seeds/ Sea salt.
Directions: Warm oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat/ Add sweet potatoes, turn to coat and season with a few pinches of salt/ Cover the pan and turn heat down to medium-low/ Cook potatoes, stirring every now and then until they’re brown and tender ( if you want them crispy, you may want to cook in two batches), about 20 minutes/ Remove lid, let the steam escape and continue to cook about 5 more minutes/ Toast sesame seeds in a frying pan (not non-stick) over medium heat, stirring occasionally until aromatic, then remove from heat/ Serve sweet potatoes tossed with sesame seeds and sea salt.
My new favorite way to cook sweet potatoes thanks to Deborah Madison in the November issue of Sunset magazine.
How about a “risotto” made with cauliflower instead of rice? A lot less starch (and work) but still a delicious addition to the meal. My version of this great new idea from, once again, the November issue of Sunset magazine.
Ingredients: 1 large head of cauliflower/ 4 T butter/ 1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs/ Several fresh thyme sprigs/ 1 shallot, chopped/ 1 1/4 cups chicken broth/ 1/2 cup whipping cream/ 2 cups shredded cheese – I used parmesan/ Salt & pepper.
Directions: Trim core and leaves from cauliflower, cut into chunks and whirl in food processor until broken into tiny rice-sized florets/ Melt 1 T butter in frying pan, add bread crumbs and thyme and cook, stirring until toasted and golden/ Remove bread crumbs, wipe pan clean and then melt 3 T butter in pan/ Lightly saute shallot then add cauliflower and chicken broth to same pan/ Cover and cook over high heat, about 3 minutes/ Uncover and cook over medium heat, stirring often until liquid evaporates, about 8 – 10 minutes/ Stir in cream, heat until boiling and let it simmer for a moment or two/ Remove from heat, sprinkle in cheese and stir until it’s melted/ Season with salt and pepper and top with toasted bread crumbs.
In our house, no meal, even Thanksgiving, is complete without greens, and lots of them. I had several bags in the fridge, blanched them and put together a greens gratin, fancy enough for any feast.
Winter Greens Gratin
Ingredients: 2 big bags of cleaned, trimmed winter greens – I used 2 different kinds of kale/ 2T butter/ 1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs/ Several sprigs of fresh thyme/ 1 shallot, chopped/ 1 1/2 cups half-and-half/ 4 cloves garlic, minced/ 1 cup grated gruyere or other hard cheese/ Salt & pepper.
Directions: Blanch greens in a large pot of boiling salted water, just until softened, 2-3 minutes/ Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a large bowl, squeezing out as much liquid as possible, then chop the greens (I prefer using kitchen scissors for this step)/ Melt 1 T butter in large frying pan, add breadcrumbs and some thyme leaves, cook, stirring until lightly toasted, then remove from pan/ Melt 1 T butter in medium saucepan, add shallots and cook for about 5 minutes until softened/ Add shallots to bowl with chopped greens/ Add half-and-half to same saucepan, along with garlic and a couple of thyme sprigs/ Gently simmer until mixture is thickened and reduced, about 10 minutes, discard thyme sprigs/ Pour cream mixture over greens and shallots and toss to loosen greens and evenly coat, seasoning with salt & pepper/ Transfer greens to a oven-proof baking dish, sprinkle with cheese and top with breadcrumbs/ Cover with foil and bake in 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes/ Uncover and bake until cheese is melted and bread crumbs are golden brown, about 10-15 minutes longer.
Based on this recipe from epicurious.com.
If there’s no way you’re going to get away without mashed potatoes, try this lower carb alternative using celery root as part of the mix. It may be hard to imagine an improvement on one of everyone’s favorite dishes but I make this far more often than mashed potatoes. It’s so flavorful, there’s no need for gravy, but a big pat of butter is too good to resist. One of the best things about this dish is that you can make it ahead of time, let it cool, then refrigerate until you’re ready to use – a real plus when cooking a complicated meal with many dishes.
Celery Root Potato Puree
Ingredients: 1 1/2 cups whole milk/ 1 1/2 cups water/ 1 T salt/ 1 large celery root , peeled and cut into 2″ pieces/ 1 potato, peeled and cut into 2″ pieces/ 1 small onion or shallot, peeled and quartered/ 3 T butter/ Salt & pepper.
Directions: Bring the milk, water and salt just to a boil, then remove from the heat/ Add the celery root, potatoes and onion to the milk mixture/ Bring to a boil again, then turn the heat down and simmer until tender, about 15-20 minutes/ Drain the liquid off and discard/ Combine the vegetables and butter in a food processor and puree/ Salt & pepper to taste/ Add more butter if desired.
Happy Thanksgiving dear readers! Feast, laugh, be thankful for all you have and enjoy a lovely time with your loved ones.