Category Archives: Side Dishes
Talking Fresh has taken a left turn. I hope you will stay with me, because I find this new phase of the column liberating.
A bit of history:
Talking Fresh came about as the result of a conversation I had at church one Sunday morning with Jen Kopf, one of the editors at the erstwhile “Lifestyle” section of the Lancaster Sunday News. I admire Jen and her remarkable writing, her sense of the history and culture of Lancaster, and her obvious love for Lancaster. I asked her why the paper didn’t have a restaurant critic, and if they would be interested in entertaining the idea. I pointed her toward my blog so that she could get a sense of my writing, my style, my sensibility, and my slight leaning toward anarchy (I should point out that before I gave her the URL, I had to clean it up a bit—I’d been blogging for a couple of years at that point, and I tend to write in frenetic bursts, thinking that everything I write is just what everyone else wants to read—my bad!).
A few weeks later Jen got back to me with several reasons why the paper didn’t think a restaurant critic was on their radar, and admittedly, the reasons were sound. But she liked what she read on the blog—she actually used the word “interesting.” I was ecstatic. But not yet a published writer here in Lancaster.
A couple months later I got an email from another editor at Lifestyle, Lynn Schmidt Miller, who suggested that they might be interested in running a semi-weekly column if I could present it just as I present entries in the blog.
“Why sure I can,” I responded. Ulp. Suddenly I’m a food writer in Lancaster, with you all and the rest of the county as my readers, and I owe a column every other week.
No matter what.
Of stuff I made myself.
But I took up the challenge, went in to the offices of the paper on King Street, got a photo taken of my former fat self, balloon chin and all, and suddenly I’m a columnist in Lancaster.
In the same newspaper as Gil Smart and Louis Butcher and Larry Alexander and Jeff Hawkes and Tom Murse and all the other fabulous writers we are blessed with in this town.
For me, because Lynn asked me to write the column just as I had been writing my blog, I took that to mean that I was wanted as much for my writing as for my recipes. The truth is, I always considered the blog—and now the column—as an outlet for my writing, and the recipes were simply the device to get people to read the entries. To this day, I don’t know, and don’t really care, whether they were more interested in the writing or the recipes.
Being on a word count made it all the more challenging, but for me it was always about the essay up front. My wife always reminded me that the column had to be about something.
“What’s it about?” she always asked.
When space was tight and the columns got edited, it was always the writing that got snipped, which made me feel a little sad. But I understood—still do—the demands of space in the paper, and half a recipe is worthless.
Which brings me back full circle to this column, which is that I now feel liberated, because the restriction of word counts is off, and now my only task is to be interesting and produce wonderful food and recipes. If I bore you half way down the column, that’s on me.
But I’ll continue to write the column, and continue to love doing it, and hope you continue to read it and to share it with your friends—Facebook and otherwise—so that maybe I can gather some steam for the column and gain some readership.
As I’m writing this, I munching on one of my all-time summer favorites, a Mexican Bean salad Ellen conjured up from her little tin recipe box about which I’ve written more than once. This salad is a killer. It’s cool and spicy and flavorful and filling and simple and festive and…for now I’ve run out of adjectives, but suffice it to say make it, and it will become one of your go-to summer dishes. Lots of ingredients, but lots of flavor. It’ll win raves!
Mexican Bean Salad
1 15-oz can black beans
1 15-oz can red kidney beans
1 15-oz can cannellini (white) beans
1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded, ribs removed, and diced
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, ribs removed, and diced
1 yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded, ribs removed, and diced
1 medium spicy yellow banana pepper, cored, seeded, ribs removed, and diced
2 ears of corn, lightly steamed, cut from the cob
1 10-oz package frozen corn, defrosted
1 red onion, diced
2-3 scallions, white and light green parts only, 1/2-inch chop
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoons white sugar
2 cloves finely minced garlic cloves
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
½ tablespoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 dash (or more—wayyyyy more) red pepper (read: Tabasco) sauce
1 teaspoon chili powder
In a large bowl, combine beans, peppers, corn, and red onion.
In a small food chopper, add all remaining ingredients and pulse until they are well mixed. Pour dressing over salad fixin’s and toss well to coat. Chill thoroughly and serve cold.
Okay, so the Sunday News won’t be carrying my column anymore, but that doesn’t mean you can’t access my kitchen. I plan to continue writing Talking Fresh, and hope all of you Facebook friends will Like Jeff’s Kitchen here, and share my posts with your friends, and encourage them to like my page as well. It takes a village, and all those six degrees and such can turn this into a movement, if you’re willing.
That said, I’m also going to put up a post on opposite Sundays featuring what I get in my CSA bag from Caitlin and EmmaKate at Blue Rock farm. Today I got lettuce, mustard and beet greens, beets, fresh dill, a perfect head of garlic, one yellow squash, snow peas and mixed (pole or bush?) beans, and chard.
Here’s what I’ll be making for supper tonight, all the fresh ingredients coming from the young women’s wonderful little farm in Willow Street, PA.
Thanks indeed to Martha Stewart for the inspiration for this recipe. I’ve altered it a bit from her original to make it my own, and to feature the fine ladies of Blue Rock Farm. By the way, it is wonderful cold, and reheats beautifully.
Please enjoy responsibly.
French Lentil and Swiss Chard Risotto
1 bay leaf
6 sprigs fresh thyme plus 2 teaspoons leaves
1/3 cup French green lentils
1 bunch Swiss chard
1 cup finely chopped onion and the onion greens
4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 ½ teaspoons minced garlic
1 ¼ cups Arborio rice
½ cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ cup freshly ground white pepper
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup freshly shredded chard or beet greens, for garnish
1. In a medium saucepan, combine 6 cups water, bay leaf, and thyme sprigs and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes; add lentils, reduce heat to low and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain lentils and set aside; discard the rest.
2. Wash chard and remove stalks; slice leaves into very thin 2-inch strips, and dice the smaller stems into ¼-inch dice. Discard the larger stems. Sauté with a bit of olive oil in a large skillet, tossing constantly over high heat until just wilted; set aside in a colander.
3. Finely chop the onions and slice the greens into ½-inch rings.
4. Bring the stock to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and keep at a bare simmer.
5. Heat olive oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add onion, onion greens, and garlic and cook, stirring frequently until soft but not browned, about 6 minutes. Add rice and thyme leaves and continue stirring until the edges of the rice become translucent, 3-4 minutes. Add the wine, stirring constantly, until nearly all the wine is absorbed.
6. Raise the heat to medium-high, add the salt and pepper and ½ cup stock and cook, stirring constantly until nearly all the stock is absorbed. Repeat this process, adding ½ cup stock at a time, until the rice is creamy but still a little firm, 15-20 minutes.
7. Remove the pot from the heat, and stir in the lentils, chard, and Parmesan. Season to taste with salt and pepper, plate and serve immediately garnished with the shredded greens.
Caramelized Leek Risotto Recipe
by katerina on November 13, 2009
The flavour of caramelized leeks is sweet, nutty and subtle. After trying caramelized leeks a few weeks ago them I knew there was a risotto with caramelized leeks in my future.
There aren’t that many leek recipes out there, but I can’t believe I have waited this long to make a leek risotto. When I tasted I was actually excited by how good it was, I think it is officially my new favorite.
If you are looking for a subtler leek flavour, but love bacon, then try this leek risotto with pancetta. It is not vegetarian friendly, but boy is it good.
Caramelized Leek Risotto
Trim off the dark green part of leek, you can reserve it for a future use. Cut remaining leek in half lengthwise then into 1/3″ half moons. Clean thoroughly. In a heavy bottomed pot melt butter over medium heat, add leeks and stir to coat. Cook leeks stirring every five minutes or so until they start to brown. Let the leeks lightly brown evenly, you can turn it down a bit if you like as you don’t want them to burn. It should take about 25 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and then add rice. Stir to coat and cook, stirring regularly for 2 minutes. Add wine and continue stirring until two thirds of the wine has evaporated. Start adding chicken stock in large ladelfuls, stirring often. You want the temperature of the mixture to be at a very light simmer. Continue adding stock until rice is tender and just a little bit al dente. Turn off heat and stir in cheese and chives. Taste and correct for seasoning.
Calories(approximate per serving): 275
I was in the Asian market today picking up fresh sprouts for a batch of pad Thai I plan to make for supper tonight, and another customer in the store asked the clerk if anyone in the market had a recipe for lo mein. When no one in the market could give her an idea of how to go about it, I offered to help her out. Not my favorite dish, although I do love a good plate of vegetarian lo Mein, here is a simple recipe for the noodle dish for beginners. There are certainly other, more complex recipes, and had I time (today is “Free Rita’s Day” here in Lancaster), I’d produce a recipe with much more complex flavor, but most neighborhood restaurants don’t go for complex, they go for fast and tasty. Here is one I got from a neighborhood restaurant in Alexandria, VA, when I lived in the Rosemont neighborhood. If you don’t know Rosemont, you haven’t lived. This is a wonderful, simple dish made with vegetables. It can be augmented with chicken, Chinese roast pork, shrimp, or tofu, and will taste even better.
This recipe comes from Grace Young’s The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen: Classic Family Recipes for Celebration and Healing. In the book, Grace says: “Vegetable Lo Mein is one the easiest dishes for a beginner to make. The mastery comes in correctly slicing the vegetables and not overcooking the noodles. You will find a variety of fresh egg noodles in the refrigerator section of most Chinese food markets. The best noodles for lo mein are about 1/4 inch thick, and come either uncooked or precooked. Either noodle can be used and will require one to three minutes of boiling, follow package directions.”
1-pound package Chinese narrow, flat egg noodles (resembling linguine)
6 dried Shitake mushrooms
1 small can Chinese straw mushrooms
1 medium onion, halved and sliced in half-moon rings 1/4-inch thick
2 stalks celery, one-inch slices, sliced diagonally
1 broccoli crown, florets separated
6 Napa cabbage leaves
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons peanut oil
1 tablespoon finely minced ginger
1 cup julienne carrots
2 scallions, finely shredded
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
Optional: 1 chicken breast, trimmed of fat, cut in half lengthwise then sliced crossways into small strips; or 24 31- to 36-count (medium) shrimp, peeled and deveined; or 1/2 pound extra-firm tofu, pressed dry, marinated 1/2 hour in 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 tablespoon rice-wine vinegar, and 1 teaspoon sesame-seed oil; or 1/2 pound Asian-roasted BBQ pork, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
In a medium bowl, soak the Shitake mushrooms in 1/4 cup cold water for 30 minutes, or until softened. Drain and squeeze dry, reserving soaking liquid. Cut off and discard stems and thinly slice the caps.
Wash the cabbage leaves in several changes of cold water and allow to thoroughly drain in a colander until dry to touch. Trim 1/4 inch from the stem end of the cabbage leaves and discard. Stack 2 to 3 cabbage leaves at a time and crosswise into 1/4-inch-wide shreds.
In a 4-quart saucepan, bring about 2 quarts of water to a boil over high heat. Add noodles , return to a rolling boil, and boil 2 to 3 minutes. Rinse under cold water and drain the noodles thoroughly. Transfer to a medium bowl, add sesame oil and 1 tablespoon soy sauce, and mix well. Set aside.
Heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok or 12-inch flat skillet over high heat until hot but not smoking. Add 1 tablespoon peanut oil and ginger, and stir-fry 20 seconds. Add the onions, celery, carrots, scallions, and mushrooms, and stir-fry 1 minute, or until vegetables are just limp. Transfer vegetables to a plate.
Add 1/4 cup water and broccoli; cover and steam 3 minutes, then drain and place on the plate with the other vegetables.
[Add protein ingredients here if you choose–see note*]
Add the remaining 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and cabbage, and stir-fry 1 minute, or until cabbage begins to wilt. And the cooked carrot mixture, noodles, and reserved mushroom soaking liquid, and stir-fry 2 to 3 minutes, or until noodles are heated through. Swirl in the remaining 1 tablespoon soy sauce and oyster sauce and toss to combine. Serve immediately.
* Note: If you choose to add protein ingredients such as chicken, shrimp, tofu, or pork, stir-fry them until just barely done after stir-frying the vegetables but before the cabbage. Set aside on a warm plate. Then resume the recipe with with the cabbage and continue until hot and well mixed. If you add protein ingredients, double the oyster sauce and increase the soy sauce by 1 tablespoon.
I heard a request at a meeting last night for baked rice. If you have been stuck in a rut with rice, try this alternative method of cooking rice. It is seriously good. and it releases the flavors in a whole new way. You might never look at rice the same way again.
Simple Baked Rice
1 cup long-grain rice
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ cup carrot, celery, onion
2 cloves garlic
2 cups chicken stock
2 bay leaves
½ teaspoon kosher salt
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat baking dish lightly with olive oil spray
- Spread long-grain rice into prepared casserole dish.
- Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add carrot, celery, and onion and saute until onion is soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and stir 1 minute more.
- Increase heat to high, add chicken stock and bay leaf to saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour the mixture over the rice in the casserole dish. Cover the dish tightly with foil.
- Bake 20 minutes. Remove the foil an bake until most of the liquid is evaporated and absorbed, about 20 minutes more. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Season with freshly ground black pepper, fluff with a fork, and serve.
Note: If you like drier rice, return to the oven an additional 5 to 10 minutes, to your taste.
Baked Brown Rice
1 teaspoon butter
3 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried minced onion
1 pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Toast rice and butter in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently until rice gives off a nutty fragrance, about 5 minutes. Transfer rice to a Dutch oven or heavy casserole pan with a lid
- Bring chicken broth, olive oil, salt, powder, onion, and cayenne pepper to a boil in the same saucepan; pour over the rice and stir to combine.
- Cover and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
- Fluff with a fork before serving.
12 ounces dried rice noodles
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
1/4 cup fish sauce
2 tablespoons tamarind paste
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast
halves, sliced into thin strips
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic, minced
4 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 tablespoons white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup coarsely ground peanuts
2 cups bean sprouts
1/2 cup chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon paprika, or to taste
1 lime, cut into wedges
|1.||Place rice noodles in a large bowl and cover with several inches of room temperature water; let soak for 30 to 60 minutes. Drain.|
|2.||Whisk sugar, vinegar, fish sauce, and tamarind paste in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, remove from heat.|
|3.||Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook and stir until chicken is cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat.|
|4.||Heat 1 tablespoon oil and minced garlic in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Stir in eggs; scramble until eggs are nearly cooked through, about 2 minutes. Add cooked chicken breast slices and rice noodles; stir to combine.|
|5.||Stir in tamarind mixture, 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar, and salt; cook until noodles are tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in peanuts; cook until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Garnish with bean sprouts, chives, paprika, and lime wedges.|
For anyone watching their weight, Thanksgiving has become a day filled with potential pitfalls and dietary disappointments. The original Pilgrim celebration of gratitude for having enough food to survive the coming winter has evolved into an all-day, all-you-can-eat extravaganza. Many families spend the day parked on their couches, watching parades followed by football, snacking whether they are hungry or not, before sitting down to an enormous meal.
Contrary to popular opinion, it is possible to prepare and serve a light, healthy Thanksgiving dinner without depriving your guests of their traditional favorites or letting them go hungry. By making a few simple changes to your menu, it is easy to make a meal you and your guests will enjoy and remember, without the morning-after regret that too often accompanies this special day
Suggestion One: Cut the fat.
The centerpiece of Thanksgiving dinner is almost certainly the turkey, which is an easy place to cut fat without cutting flavor. Unless you are entertaining a dozen or more people, a turkey breast may be a better choice than a whole turkey. White meat is far leaner than dark meat, and turkey cooked on a grill (breast or whole bird) will release much of its internal fat during the cooking process. Brining a turkey can compensate for any moisture lost through decreasing the fat. This recipe is for a 12-15 pound turkey. If you have a larger turkey, double the brine recipe.
1 gallons water
1 ½ cups apple cider
¾ cup kosher salt
1 cups brown sugar
2-3 bay leaves
2 branches fresh rosemary, stripped from the branch
5-10 whole pepper corns
2-3 cloves fresh garlic
Peel of 1 navel orange, coarsely chopped
The day before cooking, bring one-half gallon of water and all other ingredients to a brisk boil; immediately turn off the heat, cover and allow the brine to cool to room temperature. Half way through the cooling process, add the remaining half-gallon of cold water.
When the brine is completely cooled, place the turkey, breast side down, in a brining bag, a food-grade bucket or large soup pot. Pour the brine over the turkey and refrigerate covered for 8-16 hours, turning the turkey over two-thirds of the way through. Leaving the turkey in the brine for more than 16 hours may leave the turkey mushy when finished.
Before cooking, remove the turkey from the brine and pat dry.
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons finely ground white pepper
2 tablespoons granulated garlic
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon Bell’s poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
Olive oil in a spray can
Start with a dry rub. Wash the turkey and pat dry. Rub the turkey inside and out with this rub or any favorite combination of spices. Spray the turkey with the olive oil, then place it, unstuffed, on the grill with the coals or burners not directly underneath. Include a pan to catch the drippings. Cook the turkey until the legs can be jiggled loosely from the thighs, (180°F on a thermometer inserted into the thigh) or in the case of a breast, until a meat thermometer inserted deep into the meat (but not touching the bone) reads 180° F. Remove the turkey from the grill, cover with foil, and allow to rest 15 minutes before carving.
Suggestion Two: Slow down and enjoy the company.
Many families load the Thanksgiving table with multiple options for entrees and side dishes. Dinner begins with the circulation of bowls and platters around the table, allowing each guest to take their portion before passing it on. By the time everyone is served, the food is cold and everyone is tired of waiting to eat.
By serving Thanksgiving dinner in courses, it is easy to fill up on low-calorie, vegetable-based dishes before confronting the tempting entrees and side dishes. An added benefit will be the wonderful conversations your family and guests will have in between each course.
Start with a soup course (a corn soup is perfect for Thanksgiving), serving it in cups or small bowls. Then serve an autumn salad, made with butternut squash, cranberries, pumpkin seeds and fresh greens, with a tangy-creamy dressing.
Try these recipes, which use traditional ingredients that were used in the 1600s.
Curried Corn Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup finely chopped green bell pepper
½ cup finely chopped red bell pepper
¼ cup minced shallots
2 teaspoons curry powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups fresh corn or one 16-ounce bag frozen corn, thawed
1 cup vegetable stock
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3 cups soy milk, 2% milk or evaporated skim milk, divided
½ cup shredded reduced fat cheese, divided (optional)
Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the bell peppers, stirring occasionally, until soft. Add the shallots and stir 2 minutes. Add the curry powder and salt, and stir to combine. Stir in the corn, stock, and pepper; bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, cover and cook ½ hour.
Transfer 2 cups of soup to a blender, add 1 cup milk, and process until smooth. Return the blended corn soup to the soup pot, add the remaining milk, and stir gently until the soup is hot.
Serve immediately, garnished with the optional cheese and some chopped chives or parsley.
Adapted from soyfoodcouncil.com
Roasted Squash Salad with Tahini Dressing
1 medium butternut squash
Olive oil spray in a can
½ teaspoon paprika
4 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
¼ cup dried cranberries
8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
2 cups spring mix
2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
1 ½ tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 small garlic clove, finely minced
½ cup boiling vegetable stock
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Peel the squash, halve, remove the seeds, and cut into 1-inch cubes. Lightly spray a roasting pan with olive oil, spread the squash on the pan, sprinkle with paprika, salt, and pepper, and spray with oil. Roast 35 minutes, stirring halfway through, until the squash is tender. Put the pumpkin seeds on baking sheet and bake for the last five minutes of the cooking time.
While the squash is roasting, make the dressing: whisk together the yogurt, tahini, lemon juice, and garlic. Slowly stir in 1-2 tablespoons stock, until the dressing reaches the consistency of buttermilk.
Plate the salad greens, top with the squash, pumpkin seeds, cranberries, feta cheese, and parsley, and sprinkle the dressing on top. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.
Adapted from redonline.co.uk
Suggestion Three: Limit options and focus on vegetables.
In order to make your dinner lighter and healthier, consider limiting the number of options you present your guests, featuring one or two interesting new recipes in which vegetables play the starring role rather than laying out the full cast of customary starchy favorites. No one needs stuffing, mashed potatoes and sweet potato casserole, after all. New flavors may encourage new behaviors, as serving old favorites can entice your guests to heap too-large portions on their plates simply because they are accustomed to doing so.
Here is a vegetable dish that is out of the ordinary, yet made with many of the familiar ingredients of traditional Thanksgiving dinners. It is easy to make, beautiful to serve, nutritious, and much more interesting than the customary green-bean casserole with cream of mushroom soup and canned onion rings. And so much better tasting!
Polenta Dome with Roasted Autumn Vegetables
4 cups vegetable stock
1 ½ teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons olive oil
Olive oil spray in a can
2 cups diced onions
3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
2 cups cornmeal
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and shredded
1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped (1 teaspoon dried)
2 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
In a covered pot, bring the stock and 1 teaspoon salt to a boil. Spray a medium-sized mixing bowl.
While the stock heats, heat olive oil in a heavy skillet on medium heat. Cook the onions, garlic, and remaining salt for about 25 minutes, until the onions are caramelized. Stir the squash, sage, fennel, and pepper into the sautéed onions and cook for 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and cover.
When the stock boils, gradually pour in the cornmeal, stirring vigorously. Reduce the heat until the thickening cornmeal simmers gently. Cook, stirring frequently, until the polenta is thick (but still pourable), adding hot water as necessary, and tastes done. Fine cornmeal cooks in a few minutes; courser meal takes longer. The consistency is key.
When the polenta is done, stir in the sautéed vegetables and cheese. Pour into the oiled bowl and set aside to cool for at least 30 minutes, until set.
About a half hour before serving, turn the cooled polenta dome onto a baking pan or ovenproof platter sprayed with olive oil and bake for 30 minutes, until hot. Serve on a bed of steamed spinach or Swiss chard and surround with toasted autumn vegetables.
Roasted Autumn Vegetables
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
5 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1-2 teaspoons fresh rosemary or sage, chopped
2 medium onions, peeled, cut into 8 pieces
1 cup baby carrots
2 sweet potatoes or ½ seeded butternut squash, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 red and 1 yellow bell pepper, cut to 2-inch squares
2 cup tiny patty pan squash or 2 medium zucchini, 1-inch slices, halved
8 ounces fresh whole cremini, baby portabella or white mushrooms, halved
6 firm, fresh plum tomatoes, halved
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
In a bowl mix together the marinade. Toss the hard vegetables (onions, carrots and potatoes) in the marinade, and spread on a baking sheet. Roast for 20 minutes, turning once. Toss the remaining vegetables in the marinade. Lower the heat to 400°F, place on a second baking sheet and roast another 20 minutes, turning once, and turning the hard vegetables again. Serve on a large platter around the polenta dome. Watch carefully that the vegetables don’t burn.
Adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Celebrates
Suggestion Four: Change Your Thinking about Stuffing and Gravy
Probably the most troublesome parts of the Thanksgiving meal for people endeavoring to eat light and healthy are the stuffing and the gravy. The notion that stuffing and gravy are integral to the meal is deeply ingrained in our consciousness. A simple way to cut some of the fat from stuffing is to bake it outside of the turkey. Likewise, traditional gravy can be made without calorie-laden pan drippings. Even better, try a new approach to stuffing and gravy altogether, replacing bread cubes with high-fiber whole grains such as quinoa or barley and combining interesting new flavors into an almost fat-free gravy.
Wild Mushroom Barley Stuffing
2 tablespoons kosher salt, divided
1 ½ cups uncooked pearled barley
2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, chopped
5 slices turkey bacon
2 small carrots, diced
1 pound fresh wild mushrooms, assorted varieties
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, minced
2 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 cups vegetable broth, heated to a simmer
1 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
Bring eight cups of water and 1 ½ teaspoons salt to a boil in a large saucepan; add barley. Cover, reduce the heat, and simmer until tender, about 30 minutes; drain.
Meanwhile, heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large pot over medium-high heat; add onion, bacon, and carrots. Cook, stirring often, until onion is lightly browned and almost tender, about five minutes. Add mushrooms and garlic; cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are tender, about five minutes more.
Stir in herbs, pepper, remaining salt and olive oil. Reduce heat to low, stir in broth and barley, toss to coat. Remove from heat, transfer to a serving bowl, and sprinkle with parsley.
Caramelized Onion Gravy
2 teaspoons olive oil
6 cups thinly sliced sweet or Spanish onions
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon dried thyme or ¾ teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
½ teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
½ teaspoon dried marjoram
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
3 tablespoons dark soy sauce
2 cups vegetable broth
¼ cup dry sherry wine
2 tablespoons cornstarch
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Warm the oil in a large saucepan on medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté for 2-3 minutes, until the onions are coated with oil. Add the paprika, salt, herbs, and nutmeg. Reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes, until the onions are limp and very brown. You should have about a generous cup of caramelized and very sweet onions.
Add the soy sauce, 1 ¾ cups broth, and the wine to the onions; bring to a simmer. Dissolve the cornstarch in the remaining broth and mix into the gravy in a slow but steady stream. Stir constantly until the gravy is thickened.
From Moosewood Restaurant Celebrates
Suggestion Five: Serve smaller plates and individual portions
A cherished part of Thanksgiving for many is filling one’s plate with heaps of good food. Slow everyone down a bit by serving your meal on smaller salad plates rather than dinner plates. Your guests will retain the pleasure of combining delicious foods together without committing themselves to more than they can – or should—eat in one sitting. If, by some chance, they are still hungry after cleaning their plate, they are welcome to come back for more.
The same strategy works well with dessert. Instead of baking a pumpkin pie, bake the pumpkin custard (substituting egg whites and evaporated skim milk to lower the fat) in ramekins. Serve each guest their own portion with a ginger snap in a ramekin, saving them the fat and calories of the crust and the temptation to eat more dessert than they should.
The secret to losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight is to make a series of small changes and then be consistent in retaining those changes; but in the end, food and the experience of sharing a meal with loved ones should still be pleasurable. This Thanksgiving, try one or two of these tips to save yourself unnecessary fat and calories without losing any of the enjoyment of spending this special day with the people you love. Who knows? Maybe you will be creating new, healthier traditions for years to come.
Morgan and her mom made these incredible spring rolls the other night for company, and they were a huge hit. I thought they were every bit as good as any I have had at a restaurant. Fact is, this is a restaurant recipe, from la Patisserie in Birmingham, Alabama, where a large Vietnamese population has resettled after the floods in New Orleans. There is a wonderful video that accompanies this recipe, for which I will post the link at the end of this recipe. Try these. You will need to find a good Asian market to get the rice wrappers, but if you haven’t found one already, you owe it to yourself to find one. Now. The one near us is wonderful, and always smells great. Very nice people, too.
Shrimp Spring Rolls
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 ounces rice vermicelli
24 baby shrimp, peeled and deveined
6 rice wrappers (8.5 inch diameter)
3 leaves lettuce, chopped
4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint leaves
4 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
4 teaspoons finely chopped Thai basil
- Whisk vinegar, fish sauce, sugar, lime juice, garlic, and red pepper flakes together in a small bowl. Set the dipping sauce aside.
- Fill a large bowl with room temperature water. Add rice vermicelli and soak for 1 hour.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Drop in shrimp and cook until curled and pink, about 1 minute. Remove the shrimp and drain. Or you can buy precooked baby shrimp with the tails on. Defrost and pinch off the tails. Transfer rice vermicelli noodles to the pot of boiling water and cook for 1 minute. Remove and drain in a colander. Immediately rinse the vermicelli with cold water, stirring to separate the noodles.
- To assemble the rolls, dip 1 rice wrapper in a large bowl of room temperature water for a few seconds to soften. Place wrapper on a work surface and top with 4 shrimp halves, 1/4 of the chopped lettuce, 1/2 ounce vermicelli, and 1/4 each of the mint, cilantro, and Thai basil. Fold right and left edges of the wrapper over the ends of the filling and roll up the spring roll. Repeat with remaining wrappers and ingredients. Cut each roll in half and serve with dipping sauce.
Makes 6 spring rolls
Servings: 1 roll, 2 tablespoons dipping sauce