There’s something about Thanksgiving fare that’s hard to resist (well, besides the cranberry jelly - one of those things a Middle Eastern foodie just can’t get!). The traditional Thanksgiving meal is the ultimate comfort food - and I’m not just talking about the butter-dripping mashed potatoes. It’s that irresistible combination of fall vegetables prepared with irrational amounts of carbs and cheese. Makes you feel it is almost immoral to cook, or eat, this way.
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But it’s a holiday and we do what we need to do. Consider these Mediterranean inspired sides for the holiday table.
Corn bread panzanella with kale and golden beets
The wonderful flavor of this fall variation on the Italian summer salad of day-old bread and tomatoes comes from the anchovies in the dressing. If you must (for vegetarian guests), omit the anchovies from the dressing and use one minced garlic clove instead.
The first three steps below can be done up to a day in advance. Cook the kale and mixi the salad just before serving.
3 medium sized golden beets
2 cups 1 inch cubes of day old corn bread
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large bunches red or curly kale
Pinch dried chili flakes
½ red onion, thinly sliced
For the dressing:
One pack (2 oz.) anchovies in olive oil
½ cup olive oil
½ cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped rosemary leaves
1. Oven to 400 degrees. Wrap each beet with aluminum foil, arrange on a baking sheet and roast for about one hour, until a knife is inserted easily to the center. Rotate the beets a couple of times during roasting. Let beets cool a little, peel them and slice to ¼ inch slices.
2. While the beets are roasting, spread corn bread cubes on a baking sheet, drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil and roast for 15 minutes, flipping bread cubes twice during roasting. Set aside.
3. To make the dressing, put dressing ingredients in a blender and mix on medium-low speed until incorporated.
4. Chop kale leaves, discard stems, and sauté together with two tablespoons water and chili flakes in a skillet over medium-high heat for about two minutes, until wilted. Transfer to a serving bowl.
5. Add red onion, corn bread and beets to bowl. Add dressing and mix gently. Let stand for 10 minutes so the corn bread can absorb the dressing before serving.
Celery root and Swiss chard spoon bread
In Israel we would've called it Pashtida. Spoon bread sounds as good.
2 celery roots, peeled
2 golden potatoes, peeled
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 yellow onions, chopped
1 large bunch Swiss chard, leaves only, chopped
cups heavy cream
2 large eggs
2 egg yolks
2½ teaspoons salt
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
1. Oven to 350 degrees. Brush a 8” by 10” casserole dish with olive oil.
2. Cut celery root and potatoes to 2 inch cubes. Put in a sauce pan, cover with boiling water and bring to boil over high heat. Cover, lower heat and cook for 15-20 minutes, until tender. Drain, transfer to a large bowl and mash with a fork. Set aside.
3. Put olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, add onion and sauté for 5 minutes. Add Swiss chard, sauté for another 2 minutes until wilted and remove from heat. Transfer into the bowl with celery roots.
4. In a small bowl mix cream, eggs, yolks, salt, nutmeg and half of the parmesan cheese. Add to celery root mixture and mix well. Pour into prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle with the rest of the cheese and bake for 50-60 minutes, until settles in the center. Remove from oven, over with aluminum foil for 10 (and up to 30) minutes before serving.
Roasted green beans with caramelized onion, sumac and feta
Inspired by the Palestinian Musakhan.
1 lb. green beans or haricot verts
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon sumac
4 tablespoons crumbled feta
1. Oven to 400 degrees. Mix green beans with 2 tablespoons oil and the salt, arrange in a baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes, shaking the baking sheet every 8 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter.
2. In the meantime sauté onion with remaining oil and sugar in a frying pan over medium high heat, stirring occasionally. After 5 minutes reduce heat to medium and continue to saute until brown in color, about 12 minutes longer. Spoon over green beans. Sprinkle with sumac and feta and serve warm or at room temperature.