Thanksgiving 2014: Nourishing Sides!

Now I know my family wouldn’t go near these recipes with a 10-foot pole (well actually they can’t resist my home-made cranberry sauce and poached pear salad), but the other ones - probably not. They’re all about tradition, and get a little squeamish when I enter the kitchen around a holiday. True story. BUT - it’s not because this stuff isn’t tasty as hell, it’s just because most of the women in my family are... well, control freaks (you know who you are).

So for those of you looking to push the envelope a bit this Thanksgiving, I have 4 spins on some classic favorites. They're delicious, filling, and taste-tester approved.

Menu

Roasted Garlic Smashed Potatoes

(Bread-less) Lentil Stuffing

Cranberry Cider Sauce

Poached Pear Salad

Roasted Garlic Smashed Potatoes

To me - there is nothing worse than bland mashed potatoes. You can add all of the cream and butter you want, but I want something hearty, savory, and a little but salty. These potatoes get their creaminess from cashews, vegetable broth, and you guessed it - roasted garlic.

  • 3 lbs red bliss potatoes, scrubbed
  • 1 full head of garlic, peeled
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup cashews
  • 1-2 cups vegetable broth

Preheat oven to 425F. Place potatoes, garlic, and onion in baking dish with 1/4 cup vegetable broth and a dash of salt and pepper. Cover with tin foil and bake for about 1 hour, until potatoes are fork-tender. Check every 15 minutes and add extra broth if necessary.

Separate potatoes from the garlic, onion, and remaining broth. Place the garlic, onion, olive oil, cashews, salt, and 1 cup vegetable broth (and any remaining broth) in a blender. Blend until creamy and smooth. In a large bowl pour over potatoes and mash until well blended. Add extra vegetable broth if needed. Season with extra salt and pepper to taste.

You can top this with some parmesan cheese, or if you're dairy free, try mixing in some nutritional yeast, or miso paste to the blended cashews for some extra flavor.

Bread-less Lentil Stuffing

When you think about it, stuffing is just soggy bread with a bunch of savory spices, right? So why can't we replace that bread with something else mushy, like lentils? This has all of the great stuffing flavor, but without the bread, and loaded with extra protein and fiber!

  • 1 cup green lentils
  • 4 cups vegetable (or turkey) broth
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried sage

In a medium pot, bring 3 cups vegetable (or turkey) broth to a boil. Then, mix in lentils, cover and simmer stirring occasionally for 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, place celery, carrot, onion, garlic and salt. Add a few tbsp of vegetable (or turkey) broth to the pan to get the veggies sweating. Cook until soft, then add spices and olive oil.

When lentils are cooked through, and water is soaked up, add the lentils into the skillet and mix everything together. For softer "mushier" stuffing, add extra broth and continue cooking to desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Cranberry Cider Sauce 

I LOVE making this sauce. Mainly because it makes turkey taste so much more delicious and it had no added sugar. The best part? It also doubles as a poaching liquid for the following, Poached Pear Salad recipe.

  • 1 bag of cranberries (about 4 cups)
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • Zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 3 cloves 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 pears, peeled

Place cider, juice of the orange, cranberries, cloves and the pears in a medium size pan and turn to medium heat. Let simmer about 45-60 minutes until cranberries burst and start to gel. Once pears are fork tender, remove from sauce and place on separate plate to let cool.

Continue stirring and add in cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Let cook until desired consistency, then let cool. Top with orange zest and pecans.

Poached Pear Salad

You have your poached pear from the recipe above (or you can poach in regular apple cider) and the cranberries have given it this beautiful red hue! Now all you have to do is add some mixed greens, blue cheese (or goat cheese), and chopped pecans and you are golden. Top with a balsamic reduction or vinaigrette and enjoy!

Do you have any favorite Thanksgiving recipes? Let me know!

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PS - While we're on the topic of Thanksgiving... I have some killer Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals coming your way. Make sure to get on the list and be the first to find out.

See you next time!