Did anybody else have that oh-shit-Thanksgiving’s-next-week moment in the last few days? Because I definitely did. And while I love any day devoted to eating, my teeth clenched a little as my head began to swarm with all of the things we need to do in order to make that magical feast appear. Lobbying to host this year instead of visit our friend’s house like we’ve done in the past, John as signed up for the bird (but we haven’t signed up for our bird at the grocery store yet…oh good). When he does that, he lays claim to the stuffing and gravy, too. Some year I’d like to commandeer the turkey project (or so I think, having never had to navigate a whole turkey), but currently I love watching the glimmer in John’s eye as he ponders different methods and ingredients. I might be delusional, but I’m pretty sure John wouldn’t mind being given a turkey to cook–and all the time and ingredients and equipment needed to do so exactly as he’d like–for his birthday.
Anyway, whether you’ve got a hot date with the turkey or you’re doing the whole affair or you’re bringing sides to a friends house, today we offer up a round-up of side dishes we’ve cooked and loved. We can’t step into the kitchen to offer another set of hands (although I just pictured spending an afternoon in the kitchen with a mystery reader and I got like, really, really excited), but we can help free up a little brain space for whatever else you need to coordinate between now and Thanksgiving, even if it’s just an outfit.
As my mom mentioned on Monday, illness has descended upon our household. And despite our best efforts, over a week later we’re still kicking this uninvited visitor around. John was all ready to sit down and write a post for today (it is his Friday after all), but then I made puppy eyes and asked him to make dinner instead. So, I’m sitting in bed with a heap of tissues and he is off scrounging together leftovers from a most excellent visit we just had with family.
Oh man–mentioning a heap of tissues on a food blog is probably something you’re not supposed to do unless they accumulated from patting something fried down. Oh well. My nose, throat and brain are proverbially fried so…deal.
One of the things that I’ve really been enjoying about generating concoctions for M in the kitchen is that so many of these dishes are simple and make excellent sides for those of us with bigger appetites and more teeth than an almost one year old. It’s been a cool minute since I spent any time rethinking side dishes, usually whipping up something from a rotation of standards that are yummy but, you know, maybe appearing a little too often on our dinner plates. Anyway, in the past few weeks I’ve come up with two meals for M that are absolutely fabulous. They’re simple, interesting and healthy, too. Give ‘em a try and let us know what you think!
ingredients (for 4)
1 large carrot
a knob of ginger
6-8 T. applesauce (homemade, right? right)
Halve carrot lengthwise and then slice. Put into pan over medium heat with a drizzle of olive oil (to prevent sticking) and a dash of salt (to help the carrot cook and to open up flavors). Thinly slice ginger and then mince (do this to taste…we can eat a lot of ginger in this family, but I know not everyone can so start with about a tablespoon and build from there) before adding to skillet. Once carrots have begun to soften (around 10 minutes), add applesauce by the heaping tablespoon, stirring well. If using store-bought applesauce, I’d suggest adding cinnamon to taste, too. Saute until carrots are cooked and serve.
ingredients (for 4)
1 medium zucchini
2 large coves of garlic
freshly shaved aged parmesan
fresh cracked pepper
Peel zucchini. Halve lengthwise and then slice. Place in pan over medium heat with a drizzle of olive oil and a dash of salt (wait–this sounds really familiar, right? See–I told you these were simple sides). Mince your garlic and add, sauteing until zucchini is cooked. Remove from pan and toss with fresh cracked pepper and parmesan to taste. Serve and watch everyone smile.
With all this holiday baking — oh and just a little holiday eating — I’m beginning to feel just a tad blimp-like. So with that in mind, I thought it was time, Rachel, for me to feature something that didn’t include sugar.
I am a huge tomato fan and it is one of life’s inadequacies that I live in a place where fresh, lusciously ripe tomatoes are only available two months out of 12. I long for them the rest of the year, but there is no point of even pretending that the stuff in the produce section that’s red and roundish is even vaguely related to a real tomato.
That said, this terrific recipe from the Barefoot Contessa’s new cookbook, How Easy is That?, is a wonderful way to serve tomatoes as a side dish in those off months. Plus, you can make it ahead and serve it for a crowd, which is what I did when we had some friends over for dinner a few weeks ago. Hope you all like it!
serves a crowd
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 cups diced bread (1/2 inch pieces) from a round rustic bread
3 pounds plum tomatoes, diced (about 14-16 tomatoes)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup julienned fresh basicl leaves
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large (12-inch) saute pan over medium heat. Add the bread cubes and stire to coat with the olive oil. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring ovten, until the cubes are evenly browned.
Combine the tomatoes, garlic, sugar, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the tomato mixture to the bread cubes and continue to cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the basil.
Pour the tomato mixture into a shallow (6-8 cup) baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with the Parmesan cheese and drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Bake for 35-40 minutes until the top is browned and the tomatoes are bubbly. Serve hot or warm.