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19 Delicious Thanksgiving Recipes

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

 

Thanksgiving is on the horizon, and now is the perfect time to consider adding some delicious new dishes to your holiday repertoire. GoLocal asked Rhode Island-based food writer Lydia Walshin, whose blog, The Perfect Pantry, is a critically acclaimed go-to for healthy and inventive cooking, to share some of her favorite new and time-honored recipes. All photos courtesy of The Perfect Pantry.



 

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Ginger Spice Mixed Nuts

Starter: Ginger Spice Mixed Nuts

My favorite recipes to share on The Perfect Pantry come from readers. Special thanks for today's fabulous party dish go out to Katrina, who left me a note on Twitter about her recipe for ginger spice mixed nuts (my name for them) flavored with garam masala. The original recipe called for curry powder, but Katrina made it with garam masala, an Indian spice blend that's always in my pantry, and I love the subtle warmth it adds to these nuts. When I buy mixed nuts in the supermarket, they're always incredibly salty, so I started with unsalted mixed nuts (also found in the supermarket), and I added salt to the recipe (if you like your cocktail nuts salty, add an additional quarter teaspoon of salt). Also, I increased the amount of ground ginger, to my own taste. For all the sweetener, the nuts don't taste overly sweet; ginger and garam masala balance the sugar with a slightly peppery bite. My friend Bev, who made this recipe with me, proclaimed these nuts a winner, and she brought them to a party the next night. All gone.

Get the full recipe, here.

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Pumpkin Hummus

Starter: Pumpkin "Hummus"

Sides make the meal, never more so than on Thanksgiving, when there's so much pressure to serve the same family favorite recipes year after year. Yes, the favorites are wonderful and bring back memories, but updating traditions can create new memories -- and it's more fun for those of us who are the cooks. Here, a new appetizer on my table this year: pumpkin "hummus", made not with tahini and chickpeas, but with peanut butter and canned pumpkin purée, warmed up with smoky paprika and harissa. Serve it on pita triangles or celery sticks, and be sure save some to smear on leftover turkey sandwiches.

For the full recipe, go here.

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Herbed Cheese Spread

Starter: Herbed Cheese Spread

This is a good make-ahead spread for crackers, pitas or celery sticks, or a quick make-it-in-five-minutes snack for a football party. It's a lot more economical than buying the little boxes of boursin in the supermarket. Makes approximately 2-1/2 cups; can be frozen.

For the full recipe, go here.

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Zucchini-Tomato Tartlets

Starter: Puff Pastry Tartlets with Zucchini + Slow-Roasted (or Sun-Dried) Tomato Filling

Some people possess the elegance gene. Clothes, hair, pastry -- effortlessly elegant. I didn't get that gene, not even a tiny portion of that gene, and especially not the pastry portion of that gene. So, whenever I manage to make something ever so slightly elegant, like these puff pastry tartlets, it rates a celebration. Last week, I wanted to create a pretty vegetarian appetizer, and my pantry came to the rescue with store-bought puff pastry and the last of last summer's slow-roasted tomatoes, excavated from the freezer. A mandoline made the paper-thin zucchini toppers, but a good, sharp knife and a steady hand can do the same.

For the full recipe, go here.

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Pear + Parsnip Soup

Soup: Pear + Parsnip Soup

Just in time for Thanksgiving menu planning. Also great for lunch, with a grilled cheese and tomato sandwich. Make this vegetarian by substituting vegetable stock or water for the chicken stock.

For the full recipe, go here.

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Garlic Sweet Potatoes

Side: Mashed Garlic Sweet Potatoes

Some families hold mashed sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows sacrosanct. My family, thank the food gods, is not one of them. We're more savory than sweet, at least when it comes to what we eat, which makes these mashed garlic sweet potatoes scented with ginger and coriander a much better fit for us. The sage plants in my garden survive well past the first snow, and I love having leaves to fry for an edible garnish. If you don't have sage, substitute fresh parsley, rosemary or thyme. (Simon and Garfunkel will be delighted.) Leftover mashed sweet potatoes make a great filling for potstickers, or a topping for shepherd's pie.

For the full recipe, go here.

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Broccoli Rabe

Side: Broccoli Raab (Rabe) with Honey + Grapes

Broccoli raab scares me a little bit. I'm never entirely sure how to pronounce it; here in Rhode Island, it's called (and spelled) rabe and pronounced ROBBY. It's also called rapini, pronounced rah-PEE-nee. Whatever you call it, broccoli raab tastes like a more bitter broccoli, which makes it the perfect foil for a bit of sweetness. Created by chef and food blogger Julia Shanks of Grow. Cook. Eat. and adapted from her new cookbook, The Farmer's Kitchen: The Ultimate Guide to Enjoying Your CSA and Farmers' Market Foods (written with Brett Grohsgal), this recipe draws sugar from the grapes and honey to balance the bite of the "robby". I used both Aleppo pepper and red pepper flakes (though the original recipe calls for one or the other), in equal amounts, because you can never have too much of a good thing. Serve as a side dish to grilled chicken or pork.

Get the full recipe, here.

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Roasted Winter Squash

Side: Roasted Winter Squash with Cranberries, Pepitas + Honey-Lime Vinaigrette

A great side dish doesn't need to be complicated. In fact, its glory lies in simplicity, so as not to outshine the entree, and this recipe for roasted winter squash is a perfect example. Roasting draws out the natural sweetness of the vegetable -- try butternut, buttercup, acorn or delicata -- and when you marry that with the tart lime in the dressing, and a bit of honey or agave nectar for balance, it makes an ideal companion for a roast chicken or pork tenderloin, or a piece of steamed cod, in addition to turkey. If you're cooking with kids who aren't too keen on vegetables, let them help with the plating; it's fun and easy to make faces with the slices of squash, dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds.

For the full recipe, go here.

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Green Beans

Side: Green Beans with Lemon-Dill Yogurt Sauce

A modern spin on everyone's traditional Thanksgiving green beans will wake up the early-winter palate. A quick look in the pantry gave me all the inspiration I needed. I had some green beans in the refrigerator, though asparagus would be equally good with this Greek-inspired yogurt sauce. Whichever you use, be sure not to overcook. After one or two minutes in boiling water, "shock" the beans (or asparagus) in a bowl of ice water to set the color and stop the cooking. One ingredient I turn to often is Greektown "Billygoat" Seasoning from The Spice House in Chicago; if you don't have Greek seasoning, make your own by mixing oregano, dried lemon peel, granulated garlic, coarse salt and black pepper.

For the full recipe, go here.

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Thyme-Roasted Potatoes

Side: Thyme Roasted New Potatoes

More a method than a recipe, this is my favorite way to cook potatoes. The secret is not to move them, shake them, or turn them more than once during the cooking.

For the full recipe, go here.

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Oven-Roasted Carrots

Side: Oven-Roasted Carrots

True confession: I don't love cooked carrots. I like them raw, crunchy, dipped into something like hummus or ranch dressing. Cooked carrots don't float my boat. Post-Thanksgiving I discovered an unopened two-pound bag wedged in the back of my refrigerator. I thought about sending those carrots straight to the compost pile, but instead I decided to try cooking them the way I cook potatoes: tossed in a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper, and roasted until their natural sweetness came to the surface and formed a little bit of a crust. Know what? It worked! Call them carrot home fries, if that makes sense: soft on the inside, crusty on the outside, with just enough salt. These oven-roasted carrots are truly the best cooked carrots I've ever tasted.

For the full recipe, go here.

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Red Lentils + Bulgur

Side: Armenian Red Lentils + Bulgur

A few years ago, my friend Pauline introduced me to the International House of Rhode Island, a cultural crossroads for visitors from all around the world. In addition to short-term housing and language classes, several times a month International House hosts themed dinners and potlucks, where visitors and volunteers share the foods of their homeland. Louise, a long-time volunteer, often brings these Armenian red lentils with bulgur, a nutritious vegan side or main dish, served with a salad. Louise's recipe is a pantry lover's dream: every ingredient, except the parsley on top, comes right from the cupboard.

For the full recipe, go here.

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Cranberry Pear Chutney

Side: Dried Cranberry + Pear Chutney

Chutney is a great substitute for cranberry sauce on the Thanksgiving table, so make it in the next few weeks, when pears are in season. It will keep until Thanksgiving, and beyond, or it will be delicious for Canadian Thanksgiving next weekend. Makes 2 quarts.

For the full recipe, go here.

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Fennel + Apple Salad

Salad: Fennel, Apple + Walnut Salad with Pomegranate-Orange Dressing

If a vegetable can be called schizophrenic, fennel fits the diagnosis. Roasted or baked fennel melts in your mouth; it's sweet, with a mild flavor that hints of celery and dill. Raw fennel, on the other hand, hits your taste buds with the bite of anise (here in Rhode Island, fennel is often sold as anise), which tastes a bit like licorice. Sometimes that can be a bit overwhelming, but thanks to my sister-in-law Jill, I now know the secret to preparing raw fennel. Slice the fennel as thin as possible, on a mandoline if you have one, and "marinate" it in an acid- or mustard-based dressing for 15 minutes or so before serving. The acid will tenderize the fennel and mellow the flavor while still leaving plenty of crunch, and I promise you will fall in love with it even if you've never loved fennel before. Apples and fennel are available in our markets year-round, making this salad a perfect accompaniment for Thanksgiving turkey, or turkey burgers cooked on the grill.

For the full recipe, go here.

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Broccoli Slaw Salad

Salad: Broccoli Slaw Salad with Cranberries, Almonds + Yogurt Dressing

This broccoli slaw salad is as at home on my Thanksgiving table as at a summer picnic. With sweetness from both the dried cranberries and agave nectar or honey in the dressing, this salad will win over reluctant broccoli eaters of all ages. I start with a bag of pre-shredded broccoli slaw from the supermarket; if you can't find it, julienne your own mix of peeled broccoli stems, carrots, and red cabbage or radicchio. If you have sliced raw almonds in your freezer (and you should), toss a large handful directly into a hot, dry frying pan, and let them crisp up. That's the only cooking involved.

For the full recipe, go here.

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Spinach Salad

Salad: Spinach Salad with Glazed Beets + Blue Cheese

My husband Ted will eat almost anything with maple syrup, but combine that with beets (another of his favorite foods) and there's no stopping him. Three other tasters agreed! The nice folks at Foodzie sent me a sample of Honey Ridge Farms balsamic honey vinegar, which was delicious in this dish; you can substitute a good balsamic condiment. I used Melissa's ready-to-eat peeled and steamed baby beets, which the small market in my town now sells (I thank the beet gods for this!). Trader Joe's sells them, too, and if you can find them, you'll save time and red-stained fingers.

For the full recipe, go here.

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Easy Apple Tart

Dessert: Quick + Easy Apple or Pear Tart

Soon after Ted and I moved to Boston's South End in 1980, we met a woman who lived on Fort Hill, a middle class, not-yet-gentrified enclave of brick row houses in the midst of the low-income, mostly black and Hispanic Roxbury neighborhood. She invited us to dinner, and we had a lovely evening. Then, we called a taxi to pick us up. Our host laughed, and said no cabs would come to her neighborhood at that time of night. She was right, as it turned out, and we waited an uncomfortably long hour-plus until one finally arrived. Fortunately, our awkward exit isn't all I remember about that night; I remember the apple tart she made for dessert. This is it, a bare-bones, apple-lover's, no-gooey-pastry-cream tart best made with crisp apples (and equally delicious made with sweet pears). If you've spent any time here in The Perfect Pantry, you know I don't bake. In fact, I'm a bake-o-phobe. So, when I tell you this pretty tart is super quick and easy, believe me. You can do it.

Get the full recipe, here.

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Poached Pears

Dessert: Slow Cooker Poached Pears in Caramel Sauce

When my Canadian relatives arrived for American Thanksgiving last year, I wanted to spend lots of time visiting with them instead of working in the kitchen. My strategy involved slow cookers, putting all three of mine (3-, 4- and 7-quart) to work. In the largest cooker, I made black bean and sweet potato stew, a colorful vegan main dish. The 3-quart might be perfect for gravy, and the 4-quart for a dessert to serve alongside the got-to-have-it pumpkin pie. Kathy, my cooking assistant, and tested several dessert possibilities, and chose these poached pears in caramel sauce as the winner. They're simple and elegant on their own, which is how I like them, but a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream on top will melt the heart of even the most die-hard pie fan.

For the full recipe, go here.

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Biscotti

Dessert: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Biscotti

Did your family dunk? We did. Oreos in milk, and for the older set, chocolate chip cookies in coffee. If you didn't grow up in a dunking family, you might not know that biscotti are twice-baked Italian cookies, so crispy that the best way to eat them is to dip them in coffee, or tea, or vin santo, a Tuscan dessert wine. The biscotti absorb the liquid, and just before they fall apart, you pop them in your mouth. Almost every recipe for pumpkin cookies or cupcakes or custard calls for half a cup of pumpkin pureé, so you're sure to have a little container of leftover in the refrigerator, just enough for these pumpkin chocolate chip biscotti, or you can substitute canned squash pureé. These cookies will stay crisp for a few days in an airtight container.

For the full recipe, go here.

 
 

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