By Beverly Barbour
Dress up plain vegetables for Thanksgiving
Some people consider a company dinner as an opportunity to try out new recipes while others would rather play it safe with tried and true family favorites. You can do both, of course. Just cast your eyes downward and see if any of these ideas would appeal to the cast of characters who gather around your table of thanks.
Since Thanksgiving by its very nature requires a groaning board, you can't have too many dishes. Maybe too many leftovers but then we all know how to make them disappear quickly and easily.
Roasted Sesame Vegetables
This dish has many things to recommend it. 1. Root vegetables are very inexpensive. 2. It is good hot, warm or at room temperature. 3. It can be prepared a day ahead by baking the vegetables and adding oil, vinegar and soy sauce before storing at room temperature. No space in the refrigerator required. 4. It is easy to transport: carry in an insulated container and just before ringing the dinner bell sprinkle with the toasted sesame seeds. Makes 8 to 10 servings.
1 pound turnips, peeled
Preheat oven to 450 F. Cut the first 3 vegetables into 1/2-inch chunks. Cut onions into 1-inch chunks. Combine the vegetables in a large baking dish and add 2 tablespoons oil; stir to coat the vegetables. Bake until vegetables are tender when pierced, about 1 hour. Turn with a spatula now and then to brown evenly. Meanwhile, in a medium frying pan over medium heat, stir or shake sesame seeds until lightly browned; set aside. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil and the vinegar and soy sauce to vegetables; mix well. Sprinkle with sesame seeds just before serving.
Petals Of Brussels Sprouts
Here is another glorified veggie dish that you can start a day ahead and carry on over to a friendly kitchen for finishing. To do ahead, separate the leaves and store in a sealed plastic bag. You can saute the vegetables (except sprouts) ahead and 15 minutes before the feast bring vegetables to sizzle with brussels sprout leaves. Makes 8 to 10 servings.
2 pounds brussels sprouts
Rinse, dry, and core the brussels sprouts. Separate leaves, discarding any that are not pretty. In a large frying pan, over high heat, stir carrot, celery, onion and bacon until vegetables are lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add 2/3 cup water or chicken stock and stir to release any browned bits in pan. Add brussels sprouts leaves and stir until slightly wilted, 10 to 15 minutes. Pour into a bowl; add salt and pepper to taste.
Carrot-Sweet Potato Puree
This can be made ahead to the point of adding the sour cream. Roasting the unpeeled sweet potatoes on salt insulates them and prevents burning, but does not make the potatoes taste salty. (Save the salt and use again.) Makes 8 to 10 servings.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a roasting pan or large skillet with 1/4-inch layer of kosher salt. Place whole sweet potatoes or yams on top of salt and roast until easily pierced with a knife or fork, about 1 hour. Cool and then remove skin and cut the vegetable into chunks. Meanwhile, cover carrots with hot water in a pot and boil with the sugar and a pinch of salt until tender. Drain. In batches, puree sweet potatoes, carrots and sour cream. If you are making ahead, stop here, cover the mixture and refrigerate. When you are ready to serve, heat the puree together with the butter. Season with salt and pepper and serve hot.
Green Beans with Cheese and Garlic
Either fresh or frozen green beans can be browned, held ahead and then simmered in wine just a few minutes before serving time. Makes 8 to 10 servings.
2 tablespoons olive oil
Pour oil into frying pan. Add green beans and stir often until almost tender and lightly browned. Add garlic and stir 1 minute. Add wine, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste; stir until liquid boils. Drain and pour into serving dish; sprinkle with cheese. Serve hot.
Vegetables dress up beautifully for tom turkey.