The New Holiday Plate

Make Holiday Vegetables your new Indulgence

Holidays, huh? Time to eat...A lot...Shall I put my diet on hold and just go for it??

Or, maybe, this time is going to be different. In fact, after a few days on the Blood Sugar Solution my mind is peculiarly sharp and very focused (wheat-free does that, I'm told.) It makes me feel kind of resilient to whatever it is that makes us throw our good intentions out the window in the face of the family-Holidays-food trio (or shall I say triangle)... 

So here’s my plan - Yes! to wine, No! to processed food, doing my best to avoid wheat, sugar and anything white.

And most importantly - rearranging my plate. You know how our typical American plate is composed of a big chunk of animal protein, a mound of white carbs and the occasional broccoli?  I’m going to switch things around: Veggies take center stage, protein and carbs move to the side. And by "veggies" I don't mean green beans in cream or marshmellowed mashed potaotes. I mean veggies - fresh and vibrant. Unmasked by cream and sugar.

Now in order for this to happen, the veggies HAVE to be a real treat, to make everything else look bland in comparison.

I compiled here a few recipes of  Thanksgiving favorite vegetables that taste really good, to my opinion. Most of them are on the higher carb side, but we’ll worry about it later. For now, just fill your plate with veggies and be thankful.

Roasted Beans and Carrots
Serves 4
I have serious issues of “ice shocking” - the practice of plunging veggies from boiling hot water to ice-cold water in order to stop cooking. This is not how you treat something you love. Seriously, I believe it gives the vegetables a contracted texture and prevents them from revealing their full flavor. Instead, I prepare a cookie sheet large enough to hold the vegetables in one layer and chill it with ice. When the vegetables  are ready remove the ice and transfer the vegetables in one layer to cool them down and stop the cooking.  Frankly, in this recipe you can even skip the ice. Also, you don’t really need to trim the beans from both end. Just pluck away the stem end. The other end, the one that looks like a thin tail, is perfectly edible.

1 lb. green beans, stem end plucked or trimmed
2  carrots, peeled and cut diagonally about 1/4 inch thick
¼ cup onion confit or ½ red onion, sliced thin + 2 Tbs olive oil
1 garlic clove, very thinly sliced
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
High quality red wine vinegar

Preheat an oven to 375°F. Place an 8-by-11-inch heavy roasting pan on the upper rack.

Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the green beans. Cook the beans until they turn bright green and are just tender, 1 to 2 minutes. Drain the beans and spread them in one layer on a metal cold sheet pan to stop the cooking. Pat dry.

In a large bowl, toss together the beans, carrots, onion confit or onion+olive oil and garlic. Season with salt and pepper, and toss again to thoroughly combine.

Transfer the vegetables to the preheated pan and spread them evenly and tuck the sprigs of thyme between them. Roast, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender and lightly browned, 30-40 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper. 

Caramelized Winter Squash Salad
Serves 4 to 6
2 pounds peeled winter squash, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (5 cups diced)
Olive oil, for roasting the squash
2 tablespoons pine nuts
2 teaspoons minced rosemary
2 teaspoons minced lemon zest
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400, spread squash on a baking sheet and bake until squash cubes are just tender enough to pierce with a small sharp knife, about 5 minutes. The squash should appear somewhat glazed and browned on much of the surface but should not fall apart.

Toast the pine nuts in a small skillet over low heat until lightly browned, about 4 to 5 minutes. Set aside.

Combine the rosemary, lemon zest and garlic in a small bowl and add just enough lemon juice to moisten. Stir together with a spoon, crushing and smearing to make a thick herb paste. The garlic and rosemary should be extremely fine because they will need to cook in a flash.

When the squash is cooked, sprinkle with the herb mixture and the remaining lemon juice. Heat up a little oil in a large frying pan. Toss to coat the squash, letting the herb mixture sizzle briefly and become aromatic. Taste and adjust the seasoning for salt, lemon juice and black pepper. Scatter the pine nuts over the squash and transfer to a bowl.

Pan Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Serves 4 
A recipe from Chef Chris Albrecht of Eno terra, originally published on Princeton Eats.  

1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Small onion, diced small
1/2  teaspoon caraway seeds
½  cup Sherry vinegar
2 tablespoon whole grain mustard
1 teaspoon Honey
4 cups brussels sprouts, tough stem ends removed and sliced into halves
1 tablespoons olive oil
Chopped parsley to taste
Chopped thyme to taste

Make the marinade: Cut the onion to small dice and sauté over low heat until translucent, with very little to no color.
When tender, add the caraway seed and toast.   Then add the sherry vinegar.   Simmer until reduced by half.
Add the whole grain mustard and bring to a simmer.   Then add the honey and remove from heat.

Separately, heat oil in a heavy bottom pan and roast over the halved Brussels sprouts over medium-high heat.   Get good color and cook until brown and tender (test with a knife, or bite).

When Brussels are cooked through, toss with the mustard-caraway mixture.   Best if allowed to cool in the marinade, then reheated.
Served with chopped parsley.

Pumpkin-Tahini Mash
Serves 4
Use butternut squash that tends to be less watery. 
2 cups roasted winter squash 1 sweet potatoes, cooked, peeled and mashed
2 tablespoon tahini (sesame paste)
Lemon juice to taste
Olive oil to taste
Salt and pepper to taste Toasted sesame seeds, for garnish.

To roast the squash: cut a large butternut squash lengthwise and place on an oiled roasting sheet, cut side down. Roast in 400°F for about 45 minutes until tender. Let cool a little and scrape the flesh out. 

Combine everything in a mixer bowl (or just a bowl if using hand-held mixer) and mix to a smooth mash. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds.
Use instead of mashed potatoes or as a dip.Use whole cinnamon sticks as serving spoons.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.


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