thanksgiving feast, veggie style

Farm Fresh

beets, carrots, fennel, garlic, radicchio, shallots, potatoes, winter squash

What’s for Thanksgiving Dinner?

Special (holiday) delivery, just in time to stop the incessant recipe dreaming and perusing and put some Turkey Day cooking into action. And it’s the very best kind of holiday for me…the hosts are providing the turkey, and have said “bring what you want, however much you want, and by the way, we love veggies!”  I feel the need to be all-inclusive with this special Sauvie Island Organics windfall. It’s quite possible that each and every veggie I received this week is bound for the holiday (or holiday day-after!) table in some way, shape, or form. I’ll enlist my (somewhat) trusty kitchen helpers, and see where our inspiration and energy take us. Starting with the pie, of course.

hors d’ oeuvres

caramelized fennel, fig, & goat cheese toasts (CUESA)
beet spread with goat cheese & hazelnuts (Yotam Ottolenghi)

soup

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

salad

nw autumn salad (Simply Classic, Seattle Junior League)
roasted beet and carrot salad (Martha Stewart)
roasted radicchio salad (Simply Recipes)

veggie sides

brown sugar glazed squash with marshmallows (Bon Appetit)

stuffing & potatoes (and potato-like)

caramelized fennel, shallot, & sausage stuffing (Amanda Hesser, NYT)
wild rice and squash dressing (Sunset)
rustic garlic & shallot mashed potatoes (Bon Appetit)

dessert

pumpkin pie with pecan praline sauce (Deb Perleman, The Smitten Kitchen)
perfect pecan pie (Cook’s Illustrated)

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hors d’ oeuvres

caramelized fennel, fig, & goat cheese toasts (CUESA)
beet spread with goat cheese & hazelnuts (Yotam Ottolenghi)

This is kind of a two-fer. One big platter, lots of oiled, salted, and lightly toasted baguette slices, and a mound of nice goat (or any farm fresh) cheese. Aside these, two choices of amazing farm fresh spreads – either the soft and sweet caramelized fennel, or the gorgeous, vibrant red creamy beets. I’ll roast the beets while I’m caramelizing the fennel; beyond this, there’s not much work, aside from tossing the soft beets in the food processor with some greek yogurt, maple syrup and a couple spices. I’ll slice some of autumn’s best figs to go alongside the fennel jam – a made-in-heaven combination. Both of these tasty treats can be made ahead, then sit in waiting for the turkey day hors d’ oeuvre hour.

soup

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

With TWO behemoth butternut squashes, and celery roots a plenty hanging around, I’ve got my soup work cut out for me.  This amazing winter squash and pear soup is hearty, and oh-so flavorful with the mixture of carrots, squash, leeks (I’ll use shallots), and pears (plus wine and fresh ginger!). I’ll skip the garnish of crystalized ginger (don’t have) and pomegranates (too Christmassy). Maybe finely chopped hazelnuts instead? The celery root bisque is a go-to for me. The rich, velvety, decadent concoction defies the simplicity of its ingredients and preparation. It’s a simple cook it, purree it, cream it process, in really no time at all. Either of these fall-at-its-finest soups would be a perfect start to this ultra special occasion meal.

salad

nw autumn salad (Simply Classic, Seattle Junior League)
roasted beet and carrot salad (Martha Stewart)
roasted radicchio salad (Simply Recipes)

The northwest autumn 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. This year I’ll try a thinly sliced cabbage version, maybe even tossing in a bit of slightly bitter, spicy radicchio for some gorgeous color.  With sweet nuts and maple syrup, tart & tangy northwest apples, and a sprinkling of Oregon cheese and dried cranberries, it’s nearly impossible to go wrong here.

The other two “salads” are options as well, although they seem a bit more side-dishy than salad-ey to me.  If  you’re looking for a super simple way to use those beets and carrots, this could be it. Not to mention beautiful, with the mixture of deep red beets, and both bolero orange and purple dragon carrots. You roast slices of each together until barely tender, then toss with a citrusy vinaigrette, sprinkling with a goat cheese and chopped nuts (OR hazelnuts?) to finish. The radicchio salad looks to be a great counterpoint to the crispy cabbage. You could grill it on an indoor grill pan, or just give it a quick broil or roast, with the slight cooking transforming this bitter green into something nutty and unique. Tossed with a garlicky balsamic mustard dressing, you can serve it warm or room temperature, making it another great make-ahead candidate.

veggie sides

brown sugar glazed squash with marshmallows (Bon Appetit)

This 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. 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. One of my favorite things about it is its ease – instead of making a creamy, buttery, involved “mash”, it’s purely pieces of sweet potatoes or winter squash that make up the casserole base. The authenticity of the veggie shines, even through the caramelly glaze and lightly browned marshmallows.

stuffing & potatoes (and potato-like)

caramelized fennel, shallot, & sausage stuffing (Amanda Hesser, NYT)
wild rice and squash dressing (Sunset)
rustic garlic & shallot mashed potatoes (Bon Appetit)

Looking for a stuffing dish that uses lots of farm-fresh veggies, and will bring sheer joy to the sausage-lovers amongst us? Look no further – I’ve got two crowd-pleasers here. The caramelized fennel version uses carrots, celeriac (I’ll use instead of celery), leek and onions. Feel free to use just shallots, or whatever in this family you’ve got. And any Italian sausage will fit the bill, or pack it with veggies and leave it without. I’ll use a favorite bakery’s pre-made dried bread, and skip the raisins. With the winter squash and rice dressing, 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, or maybe just some thinly sliced radicchio. If it weren’t Thanksgiving, this would be the full-meal-deal at my house for sure!

As for the essential mashed potatoes, if you’re not picky about them being perfectly creamy, or perfectly peeled, this is a keeper. I actually prefer a mashed potato dish that has some texture; this one gets that from both the softened onion (I’ll use shallots) and garlic, as well as the coarsely “smashed” nature of the unpeeled spuds. My yukon gems will stand in nicely for the red-skinned, and I often substitute half and half, with no diminished results. Quick, rustic, and delicious!

dessert

pumpkin pie with pecan praline sauce (Deb Perleman, The Smitten Kitchen)
perfect pecan pie (Cook’s Illustrated)

Two kids, two different pie requests. No problem, especially when I’ve got a lovely Pie Friend, and we looking forward to the time together, devoted to this worthy undertaking. This pumpkin pie is for those who love the classics. Fresh pureed pumpkin, or any winter squash for that matter, would be delectable; canned works just fine as well. Feel free to skip the homemade pecan IMG_3715praline sauce, but why would you? IMG_3713For the extra sweet tooth out there, satisfied only by the nutty, chewy, and caramelly,…this perfect pecan pie. It’s a simple pie to make, with minimal ingredients, and absolutely not a hint of veggies. Serve both with a dollop of whipped cream, or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The grand finale, in an understated, classic way.

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2 responses to “thanksgiving feast, veggie style”

  1. Claudia McNeil says :

    Dearest Teri,
    I hope you and your darling family have a great Thanksgiving. Looks like you will be a busy gal. Christy’s house will be the scene of happy chaos. Our entire family will keep the hood hopping…until they eat too much turkey.
    Love, Claudia

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