Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Make One Thing Easy on Thanksgiving

Me and the fam have landed in lovely, frigid, Minnesota to spend Thanksgiving week with my midwestern family. And can I just say–as I type this blog and gaze out upon the snowy tundra that is my in-laws front lawn–that it’s 16 degrees outside? It may be bright and sunny, but the wind is whipping the flurries around like we’re inside a snow globe being shook by a 3 year old boy on a sugar rush (maybe I’m just having a flashback to Conor in the airport after I gave him a lollipop for being so good on the plane).
In an hour or so, my father-in-law and I are will embark on our very special annual tradition: the pre-Thanksgiving food shopping spectacular! Where we hit not one, but sometimes three separate supermarkets! This expedition is so special and so much fun (for me) that nobody else in the family volunteers to go but Joe. We will venture to the St. Paul Whole Foods (one of the original cozy-sized ones), then Trader Joe’s, then who knows where else! Some people may think “that sounds like a nightmare”, but for me it’s a dream…
We spent the morning discussing the menu and right now it looks like I’m in charge of an appetizer and vegetables. So I’m thinking of tackling a rustic butternut squash and fontina tart I saw on the website Food52, and then maybe three vegetable sides: a fennel and pomegranate salad with champagne vinaigrette, roasted carrots with cumin and Greek yogurt; brussel sprouts with pancetta and thyme; and pan-roasted string beans with almonds and pecorino.
Too much?
Maybe.
But it’s going to be 8 degrees out on Thanksgiving! What else can I do with myself but cook vegetables?
Which leads me to my holiday cooking tip.
Since for some (many) Thanksgiving can be a difficult melding of relatives and gluttony, I’ve thought about the few things that can make this upcoming holiday a bit more enjoyable (survivable?):
-wine
-long brisk walks when and if the s*** hits the fan
-and roasted vegetables
With the turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, and pies to contend with, it can make lots of sense to roast a bunch of lovely vegetables to serve on the side. This can be done earlier in the day or even after the turkey is out and resting on the counter. The other day I made one sheet of brussel sprouts, another of butternut squash and a third of sweet vidalia onion as a sample and it was as delicious as any grander recipe involving lots of steps and motivation.
I toss the warm vegetables with a splash of sherry vinegar, a squeeze of lemon, salt, white pepper, pecorino, and a nice luxurious pour of olive oil.
It made a hearty salad over rice and lentils, see below…
But by themselves I think are satisfying enough to be worthy of your Thanksgiving table.
You can even add other vegetables to your mix: cauliflower would be lovely as well. Just set your oven at 400, toss all the veggies first with just enough olive oil to coat lightly and then a sprinkle of salt. Spread the veggies (squash should be in 1 inch cubes; onion in thick slivers; brussel sprouts with the tough bottom core cut off, outer leaves removed, then halved; cauliflower separated into not too small florets, about 1 1/2 inch in size) out on a baking sheet, making sure they are in a single layer and preferably not touching (this will prevent them from steaming). Flip them once at about 10 minutes, and then take them out when golden and a little crispy (about 10-15 minutes later).
Serve separately dressed with the vinaigrette or tossed together and laid out on a platter.
Don’t forget the wine.
And I’ll be sure to post some more as we eat our way through the cold.
But until then–happy Turkey!

One Response to Make One Thing Easy on Thanksgiving

  1. Chef Basket says:

    Thanks for this make one thing easy on Thanksgiving post. The big day is almost here!

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