This elegant-but-easy (stupid easy!) dish is the perfect way to use leftover mashed sweet potatoes after Thanksgiving or any time. Though leftover sweet potatoes are almost unheard of in our house, we did have a little remaining after a recent dinner party, and this luscious cheesecake was the result. It is perfect for brunch, lunch, dinner, or sliced thin for an appetizer.
However, because the entree is a pretty all-inclusive one-dish wonder and very creamy-chewy-crunchy, none of the sweet potato dishes I could dream up would provide the necessary contrast. Instead, a salad seemed the perfect fresh, raw burst that was needed for a beautiful and bountiful meal.
So, I’m bringing back my Kale Salad with Pomegranate Balsamic Vinaigrette from last year. Dried figs marinated in Pomegranate Balsamic Vinaigrette and smoked almonds combine with the fresh kale for a light fall salad bursing with flavor and texture.
If you love cranberry sauce, it would be a lovely addition in terms of both color and sweet-tart flavor and delicious alongside the casserole. I recommend my sister-in-law’s Cranberry-Clementine and Walnut Sauce.
Ever since the year after we were married, Joe and I have enjoyed the annual privilege of hosting Thanksgiving for our respective families.
The venue has changed from our small first house to the roomier home we built 13 years ago as have the number of people gathered around the table, for family members and friends have come and gone through death, divorce, relocation, engagement, or just scheduling conflicts.
Everyone misses Joe’s now deceased parents and, this year, an engagement and a work schedule prevented one of our nieces and our nephew from coming. But, my parents and sister all joined us this year. (Impending knee surgery had kept my sister and mother home last year and my father, especially, felt guilty for coming without them, though they encouraged him.)
Both of Joe’s sister’s, one niece, and his married sister’s husband all were able to come, which made for a convivial group of 9 plus two hungry Great Danes.
I loved having my sister stay at our house, but I also loved visiting our parents at their beachfront hotel, and taking long (like 7 miles long) walks on the boardwalk with Joe’s younger sister from his families’ beachfront hotel.
There were lunches and dinners both in and out, movies, a couple of exciting football games (MS State vs. Ole Miss and Auburn vs. Alabama), dog walks, a bit of shopping with my mom and sister–we had to get Mom something pretty to wear for the holidays and she no longer drives (words I thought I would never utter)–planning for an SPCA fundraiser (more on that later), and lots of conversation, teasing and laughter.
Our tasty dinner–we usually eat around 6 p.m.–consisted of the following vegan dishes:
Everyone seemed to love it all, but the dressing was a particular favorite. I had found a recipe for Double Corn-Cornbread Dressing in the November issue of Better Homes and Gardens. I was excited that it incorporated spinach in a great enough amount that each serving included a healthy serving. So, I basically followed their recipe (substituting a vegan broth for their chicken broth). But, as a child, I loved my mom, Sallie’s, Double Corn Fingers, so I decided to use my veganized version of that recipe in place of the cornbread and it was absolutely scrumptious in this teen-to-adult-pleasing stuffing!
Vegan Double Corn Finger, Baby Spinach, and Caramelized Onion and Corn Stuffing
Serves 8-10 (with other side dishes)
1 cup vegan butter, divided
1 cup self-rising cornmeal
1 1/4 cup self-rising flour
1-15.5 ounce can creamed corn (which is vegan)
3 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed
1 large red onion, halved, and cut into thin wedges
Freshly ground black pepper
6 cups fresh baby spinach
2 to 2 3/4 cups no-chicken broth or vegetable broth (I think the no-chicken broth has a richer flavor)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place1/2 cup butter in a 9 x 13″ metal baking pan and slide into oven just until butter melts. Remove pan and set aside. Meanwhile, in a medium size mixing bowl, combine self-rising flour and cornmeal. Make a well in the center and pour in creamed corn and the melted butter. Stir together with a fork until completely combined. Dough will be a little sticky. Spread evenly into prepared pan and bake for 15 minutes or until lightly golden on top. Remove from oven and let cool. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. (Can be made a day ahead up to this point.)
Meanwhile, melt remaining 1/2 cup butter in large cast iron skillet over medium high. Add corn, onion, and salt, and cook, stirring frequently for about 15 minutes or so, until butter begins to brown and corn and onion begin to caramelize. Stir in pepper. Adjust heat as necessary. Remove from heat.
In a very large bowl, break up cornbread into bite size pieces. Add corn and onion mixture and spinach. Toss to combine well. Drizzle with broth to moisten and lightly toss to combine. Spoon into a greased 3-1uart baking dish and bake, uncovered for 40 minutes or until dressing is heated through and lightly browned on top. Serve warm. (Alternatively, dressing may be made up to to the point of baking, covered, refrigerated for up to a day, placed in a cold oven, and then baked at 325 degrees, covered, for 25 to 30 minutes and uncovered for an additional 25 to 30 minutes. Recover if it appears to be browning too fast or drying out.)
Who knew that those pumpkins and squash at the farmers market–with their fanciful forms and all of their beautiful color, strips and spots–were not just for decoration? Many, if not most, are seriously good eats.
What better to top my roasted version with than my Pepita-Sage Pesto? I make a lot of pestos out of all kinds of ingredients, but this glistening version is an all-time favorite!
Fresh raw kale is the base of this lovely salad chock full of lightly caramelized dried fruit and smoked almonds, all glistening from just the right amount of a savory-sweet-tart pomegranate vinaigrette. The most virtuous dish on the Thanksgiving table may just be the tastiest too!
I served this salad last year and, though the whole menu was scrumptious, I typically don’t duplicate. But this dish made the cut and I will be serving it again!
For my first two “Countdown” posts–Day 7 and, now, Day 6–I decided to address the Thanksgiving main dish, as it can be the trickiest for vegans, it seems. Nothing against “Tofurky” necessarily, but it has never been what I craved to grace the center of our Thanksgiving buffet.
This dish, on the other hand, is, to me, Thanksgiving personified. A rich and creamy–but healthy!–layered amalgamation of many of my favorite flavors of fall, this lasagna is THE BEST I have ever eaten, much less created. Wait, I think it’s the only lasagna I have ever created. I guess I figured I just couldn’t do any better!
This link will take you to my original post which includes a hyperlink to One Green Planet who generously published the recipe. Your soon-to-be favorite lasagna is just two clicks away!
For the next week leading up to my favorite holiday of the year–a feast that embodies the grateful life–I am going to post some of my favorite Thanksgiving dishes, one per day.
My hope is that you might find them to be perfect embodiments of how much we have to be thankful for.
This recipe for acorn squash stuffed with a creamy stovetop rice-and-greens casserole seems to be a favorite of the generous folks on Pinterest, and is so lovely–presented in it’s own edible bowl–that it could easily be the centerpiece of your Thanksgiving meal. But whether your serve it as an entree or one of the many sides that seem to characterize this holiday, it is sure to be a crowd pleaser!
I have to admit: I am quite proud of myself for the combination of spices in this dish!
I think I could eat foods seasoned with cumin and coriander; turmeric and smoked paprika; or sage and rosemary at every meal and be quite happy.
But I challenged myself to branch out, and this mixture, inspired by za’atar, seemed a fitting direction for the combination of cous-cous and butternut squash. And it is! Now it will be all I can do not to season every recipe with “Sass” (Sage, Anise, Sumac, and Sesame)!
Garnish this simple dish any way you choose, but since I used anise in the recipe, I thought that star anise would be a lovely, homespun, organic, yet festive nod to the winter holidays.
2 cups cooked cous-cous (To cook: bring 2 cups of salted water to a boil, stir in 1 cup cous-cous, cover, and remove from heat. Let sit for 5 minutes and then fluff with a fork.)
1/2 pound peeled and seeded butternut squash rings, about 1/3 inch thick, grilled,and cut into 1/2 inch pieces (To grill: rub lightly with olive oil, sprinkle lightly with sea salt, and grill over medium high heat for about 4 minutes on each side or until nice grill marks appear and squash is tender.)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon yellow mustard
1/2 teaspoon dry rubbed sage
1 teaspoon anise seeds, ground to a powder in a spice or coffee grinder
1 teaspoon white sesame seeds
*1 teaspoon sumac (available at Middle Eastern and some Indian markets)
Place cooked cous-cous and grilled butternut squash in a serving bowl. Drizzle vinaigrette over the top and gently fold in until evenly distributed. Garnish with fresh sage sprigs, chopped pistachios, and/or toasted sesame seeds and serve warm or at room temperature.
*Note: sumac, with its earthy and subtle lemony flavor, is worth searching for. But if you can’t find it, a small amount of lemon zest could be substituted, though I wouldn’t know how much to suggestion. Maybe 1/4 teaspoon?