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brussels sprouts, carrots, celeriac, potatoes, radicchio, shallots, beets, winter squash

What’s for Thanksgiving Dinner?

Special holiday delivery, straight from the fields of Sauvie Island Organics to my home. We’re headed over-the-river-and-through-the-woods, the in-laws having declared, “We’ll take care of the turkey; you bring the veggies!” My Thanksgiving dream-come-true! I love that I can ignore the big bird, and focus all my time and attention on the infinite possibilities of veggie sides. For some reason, I feel the need to be all-inclusive. Each and every veggie I’m picking up today is bound for the holiday table in some way, shape, or form. And even though I’m not part of the official dessert crew, pie is not something I can easily resist making. The recipes below highlight an often forgotten about but magnificent vegetable – the fresh pumpkin! Oh, plus pecan pie, which highlights absolutely no veggie at all. But once a year, that magical combination of corn syrup, brown sugar, and vanilla  just can’t be topped! Oh, and the turkey?  I’m sure it couldn’t be happier surrounded by this beautiful northwest bounty.

hors d’ oeuvres

beet dip with goat cheese & hazelnuts (Yotam Ottolenghi)

salad

northwest autumn salad (Simply Classic, Seattle Junior League)

soup

roasted butternut squash and pear soup (The Daily Green)
celery root bisque with thyme croutons (Bon Appetit)
ginger carrot soup (Food Network)

veggie sides

brown sugar glazed squash with marshmallows (Bon Appetit)
roasted squash with browned butter and sage (CI, The New Best Recipe)
roasted brussels sprouts with garlic & pancetta (Gourmet)

stuffing & potatoes (and potato-like)

challah, mushroom, and celeriac stuffing (Food 52)
wild rice and squash dressing (Sunset)
buttermilk mashed potatoes (Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa)
celery root gratin (Diane Morgan, Roots)

dessert

pumpkin pie (Alice Waters, The Art of Simple Food)
silky smooth pumpkin pie (Deb Perleman, The Smitten Kitchen)
chocolate chunk & caramel pecan pie (Better Homes and Gardens)

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hors d’ oeuvres

beet dip with goat cheese & hazelnuts (Yotam Ottolenghi)

With it’s gorgeous, vibrant red color, this is a wonderfully festive appetizer. I’ll buy a nice goat (or any farm fresh) cheese, use a bit for sprinkling over the beet spread, and set out the rest with some pumpkin or apple butter poured over the top. Lightly toasted, oiled, & salted baguette slices, and maybe some delicious candied Oregon hazelnuts will round out this pre-feast snack plate.

salad

northwest autumn salad (Simply Classic, Seattle Junior League)

This salad, dated and passé as it may sound (being from a nearly ancient junior league cookbook) has graced every one of my Thanksgiving tables, for over twenty years. Oh, I try all sorts of fancier ones, but I just keep coming back to this tried-and-true. Maybe it’s the title – anyone falls hard for “northwest autumn” at the holidays; maybe it’s the crunchy apples, that speak loudly and clearly to us Oregonians; maybe it’s the blue cheese, which I can’t help but read as “Rogue Creamery Oregonzola“; maybe it’s the sweet & salty glazed nuts – it’s a fun little exploration finding out who’s making them faster and tastier than I ever could – this year it’s Albina City’s sweet Oregon hazelnuts; maybe it’s the dressing – decidedly simple, but with those subtle extras like shallots, apple cider vinegar, & maple syrup. As you can see, it’s easy to breathe new life into a done (and overdone) salad. I’ve never done this with radicchio; I’ll probably use a mix of milder lettuces as well. The bitter, spicy undertones of this chicory family will find the perfect counterpoints with the sweet nuts and maple syrup, and the tart & tangy apples.

soup

roasted butternut squash and pear soup (The Daily Green)
celery root bisque with thyme croutons (Bon Appetit)
ginger carrot soup (Food Network)

Well, I had the noblest of intentions with my grand pre-feast soup night idea – a few make-ahead pots, warm and at-the-ready, zero kitchen chaos, etc. I’m lucky to have managed a double batch of Mama Leone’s chicken soup (by popular demand), loaded with thinly sliced kale. So, now I’ve got FOUR celeriac bulbs, TWO behemoth butternut squashes, and carrots too many to count. I’m certain I won’t pull off all of these soups, but I sure wish I could! Each sounds so rich and velvety – any would be a perfect start to this ultra special occasion meal.

veggie sides

brown sugar glazed squash with marshmallows (Bon Appetit)
roasted squash with browned butter and sage (CI, The New Best Recipe)

Yes, I just have to make two squash dishes – I have a bit of a back log. Plus I adore squash. One receives all sorts of benefits, as the menu-planner! The brown-sugary-marshmallowy concoction is a once a year indulgence that I simply cannot live without. I’ll be using butternut squash, but you can truly use any winter squash or sweet potato. This dish is certainly a throw-back from the days of jello-molds and green bean casseroles (the Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup & fried onion from a can version). I say some things, like marshmallows, never go out of style! Plus, it has a certain sophistication (well, maybe that’s taking it too far), with the addition of the spices and sliced almonds. And for those with a bit more grown up tastes…with the delicatas I’ve got left, I’ll cut them maybe into quarters, and give them the simple browned butter & crispy sage treatment. Squash for everyone!

roasted brussels sprouts with garlic & pancetta (Gourmet)

The roasted brussels sprouts with pancetta is again a combination that just may convert all those who just swear they can’t stand brussels sprouts.  Another to-die-for recipe that utilizes this same amazing flavor combo is this chiffonade of brussels sprouts with bacon & hazelnuts (Diane Morgan, The Thanksgiving Table). Choose your texture – both are crowd-pleasers for sure!

stuffing & potatoes (and potato-like)

challah, mushroom, and celeriac stuffing (Food 52)

I prefer the type of stuffing that’s not actually stuffed. Instead, it’s spread into a dish and baked to a crispy, golden brown outside with a soft, billowy inside. The challah is the secret ingredient here! I’m making mine with finely chopped shallots and celeriac from the farm…they were just meant for the local Oregon wild mushrooms that will grace this stuffing.

wild rice and squash dressing (Sunset)

Looking for a dressing dish that’s not about the soggy bread, uses lots of farm-fresh veggies, and will bring joy to the sausage-lovers amongst us? Look no further – I think this is it. To make life easier, I like to pre-bake the squash a bit. Cut it in half, put it flat sides down on foil on a baking sheet, and bake in a hot oven until a fork can poke into the flesh. Not until it’s fully cooked or at all mushy – you want it in kind of a par-baked state. You can then easily cut the halves into thick slices, peel the skin off, and cut those slices into chunks. I’ll use my shallots instead of an onion, add some greens of choice, as well as some thinly sliced radicchio. If it weren’t Thanksgiving, this would be the full-meal-deal at my house for sure!

buttermilk mashed potatoes (Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa)

I’m saving my “fancy” for the gratin below. This is your timeless buttermilk mashed potato recipe – get out your hand masher, milk, and butter; with potatoes this farm-fresh, nothing could say Thanksgiving more than the simple classic.

celery root gratin (Diane Morgan, Roots)

Well, if I still don’t get my celery root bisque in, this’ll be how I transform my furry, knobby bulbs into something irresistible. Alongside a very traditional mashed potato recipe, the celery root adds a surprising earthy, herbal richness to a bubbly, cheesy gratin.

dessert

pumpkin pie (Alice Waters, The Art of Simple Food)
silky smooth pumpkin pie (Deb Perleman, The Smitten Kitchen)
chocolate chunk & caramel pecan pie (Better Homes and Gardens)

Two pumpkin pie recipes, because one pumpkin pie is just not enough at Thanksgiving. And it’s fun to have a taste test! The Alice Waters version is a classic, delicious and, as her recipes always are, simple. The Smitten Kitchen  version (just slightly adapted from Cook’s Illustrated) was absolutely out of this world! A few twists on the classic – freshly ground ginger, maple syrup, and candied yams!!! And for the sweet tooth out there that’s possibly only satisfied by something nutty, chewy, caramelly, chocolaty…this perfect pecan pie. I’m also a big fan of the Cook’s Illustrated classic pecan pie, but if you like the idea of going above and beyond with your sweets, this BHG recipe is your friend. Chunks of chocolate, baked right in, and extra caramel topping, to drizzle atop each vanilla ice cream laden piece. Have someone else bring the apple pie, and you’ve never seen a happier crowd.

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