Monday, November 23, 2009

Sides with a Difference

A friend asked my advice on sides to accompanying Thanksgiving turkey. She had in mind buttered carrots and beans with almonds.

I reminded her that in August, I posted several root vegetable side dishes to go with barbecued lamb. Those sides were:

4) Pan fried baby squash (with blossoms intact).

If you like the idea of caramelized shallots, keep in mind that you could swap out the shallots for regular brown onions. Simply chop onions into quarter chunks for cooking with the brown sugar and butter.

You could also swap out the kumquat marmalade for orange or a lemon or lime marmalade when preparing the beets. And if you don't fancy beets for Thanksgiving, try swapping out the beets for sweet potatoes and or yams; served with marmalade and chives, they're delicious.

If you do like the idea of beets for Thanksgiving, and you plan on buying a bunch, cut the green tops off, wash them, and use them as you would any leafy green. For instance, you could saute them with a little bacon, or saute them with chopped brussel sprouts and bacon, adding some chicken or turkey stock and gently simmering the veggies until tender.

Baby squash with blossoms intact are no longer in season, but you could simply do pan tossed chunks of zucchini with a fresh herb like rosemary or sage; both go well with Turkey.

I also mentioned to my friend that she could toss her cooked string beans in walnut oil and top them with toasted walnuts instead of almonds. Or toss some bacon in with the boiling beans, strain, and top with toasted walnuts, almonds or even pistachios.

Brussel sprouts, as I mentioned above, are extra delicious cooked in either turkey or chicken, stock; it adds lots of flavor to the mini cabbage-like green. For a treat, you might like to top cooked brussel sprouts with prosciutto which it can be spendy, but buy just a few slices and make less stretch further by chopping the rashers into little bits.

If you're a fan of mashed potatoes as a side with Thanksgiving, rather than adding butter and or milk, try adding the some olive oil and the pan juices from your baked turkey, but first pour off the turkey fat. The oil and pan juices will enrich mashed potatoes without adding the dairy-fat calories.

These are just a few simple ideas to make different some of the Thanksgiving sides we're all familiar with.

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