When you think of the Thanksgiving meal, vegetables do not immediately come to mind. They are side dishes and the last thing to be eaten, if at all. It is time to change our perspective and give vegetables their proper place in our celebration of the harvest. This year, make vegetables a first course, a purposeful dish with importance as well as a preview of more (not the only) good things to come.
Vegetables first makes sense for several reasons. Vegetables are good for us and their texture, flavor and colors balance the bland starchy, fatty foods to follow (i.e., the mashed potatoes, stuffing, and butter-basted turkey). Additionally, eating a modest serving of vegetables first makes us less likely to overeat the subsequent things that are not so healthy (and if you are watching your caloric intake, this will help you keep your calorie consumption down as well).
Below are three recipes for your vegetable “first course”. All are simple to make and if you do the prep work (the washing and cutting of the vegetables) the day before then you only have to roast the vegetables on Thanksgiving day (and at the same temperature you are roasting your turkey).
A couple of comments about the vegetables. First, always buy vegetables with their tops on. The tops of vegetables are the first thing to decline if the vegetables are old (which is why some markets remove the tops). Second, do not feel committed to my vegetable suggestions but buy what is freshest in your market and take advantage of the various textures and colors of the season. Lastly, if you cannot decide which vegetable first course to serve, make two. It is no more work (the vegetables are all basically roasted so you can put it all on the same baking tray) and it can make things fun. For example, if you have 12 guests, give every other person (guests # 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11) starter #2 with squash, mushrooms, and onions, and remaining 6 guests starter # 1 with carrots, turnips, and beets. If you have a young child who is learning patterns at school this is a great way for them to practice their pattern skills by creating a pattern (i.e., ABABAB) to correspond with plate assignments.
Keep the old traditions and add a few new. I wish you and your family a happy and healthy Thanksgiving and, of course, je vous souhaite un bon appétit !
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