vegetables first

vegetables first

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 !

LM

vegetables first
starter #1: roasted harvest sampler
(with parsnip, turnip, beet, and carrots)

stats:

Serves 6 (3 ounce serving)
(approximately 106 calories per serving)

what you need:

12 carrots (various colors)
6 large florets of cauliflower (white or yellow)
3 parsnips (cut into quarters lengthwise)
6  beets (red, golden, or candy)
6 turnips
6 wedges of squash (optional)
olive oil (as needed)
kosher salt (as needed)
fleur de sel (as needed)

how to:

  • Prepare Vegetables.  Wash all produce and dry.  Cut off the tops of vegetables (parsnips, carrots, beets, and turnips), leaving on one inch of the tops.  Clean parsnips and carrots well with a brush (leave skins on). Cut cauliflower into florets.  If you are including squash, cut squash into desired shape (wedges, circle or semi-circle) and remove seeds.
  • Wrap and Roast.   Wrap beets and turnips in aluminum foil.  Place on a rimmed baking tray lined with parchment paper.  Place in an oven preheated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Coat and Roast.  Brush cauliflower, carrots, parsnips (and squash) with olive oil.  Sprinkle with kosher salt.   Ten minutes after the beets and turnips have been in the oven, add the carrots, parsnips, and cauliflower to the tray (or if you have the oven space, you can use a second tray).  Roast the vegetables until the beets and turnips are soft and the carrots and the vegetables are golden brown.   Make sure to check the vegetables while they are in the oven because if they are not the same size, some will cook faster than others (squash wedges tend to cook the quickest).
  • Remove From The Oven.  Remove tray from the oven and cover carrots, parsnips, cauliflower (and squash) with foil  to keep them warm.  When the beets and turnips are cool enough to touch, carefully remove from the aluminum foil wraps and remove skin.  Slice turnips and beets lengthwise.
  • Plate.  Place a carrot of each color, a parsnip quarter, and one cauliflower floret, one turnip half, one beet half (and a wedge of squash) on each plate.  Drizzle a little olive oil over the vegetables and sprinkle them with fleur de sel.  You can serve the vegetables with a side of cranberry compote if you would like.

* * *


vegetables first
starter #2: roasted harvest melody
(with brussels sprouts, kabocha squash, mushrooms, and cipolline onions)

stats:

Serves 6 (3 ounce serving)
(approximately 37 calories per serving)

what you need:

6 slices of Kabocha (or Butternut squash)
12 brussels sprouts, halved
olive oil (as needed)
kosher salt (as needed)
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 cipolline onions, quartered
6 brown mushrooms, quartered
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
freshly ground pepper (as needed)
fleur de sel (as needed)

how to:

  • Prepare Onions and Mushrooms.  Peel onions and cut into quarters.  Wash mushrooms, trim, and cut into quarters.  Set aside (this can be done the day before and placed in the refrigerator overnight).
  • Prepare Brussels Sprouts And Squash.  Wash brussels sprouts and drain well.    Cut squash in half.  Remove seeds and pulp with a spoon.  Place cut side face down on a cutting board.  Slice the squash vertically into wedges about 3/4 inch in width.  Set aside (this can be done the day before and the squash can be placed in the refrigerator overnight).
  • Coat With Oil.  Brush  brussels sprouts and squash flesh with a light coat of olive oil.  Sprinkle with kosher salt.  Place the squash and the brussels sprouts on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • Roast.  Place squash and brussels sprouts in an oven preheated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.   Roast for about  5-7 minutes.  After 5 minutes, check  the vegetables and turn the squash over so they do not dry out.  Squash and brussels sprouts are done when soft.  Remove from the oven and cover with aluminum foil to keep them warm.  Be careful to watch your vegetables because depending upon the size of your brussels sprouts, they are likely to take longer to cook (they are more dense then the squash.  You may have to remove the squash from the oven first and let the brussels sprouts roast a little longer).
  • Sauté Onions And Mushrooms.   Place a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.  Once warm, add about 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  When olive oil is hot, add the onions and thyme leaves.  Toss to coat in the oil.  Sauté for about 3-4 minutes.  Add mushrooms.   Add pinch(es) of salt.  Onions are done when they are golden brown and the mushrooms are brown but still have their shape.
  • Toss. Add brussels sprouts to the sauté pan and toss with the mushrooms and onions.  Season to taste.
  • Plate. Take a fist full of the brussels sprouts/mushroom and onion mixture and place on plate.  Add one or two wedges of squash.  Drizzle olive oil over the top and sprinkle with fleur de sel.  Serve warm.

* * *

vegetables first
starter #3: roasted kabocha squash
with blue cheese, mushrooms and cipolline onions)

stats:

Serves 6 (3 ounce serving)
(approximately 87 calories per serving)

what you need:

6 slices of Kabocha (or Butternut squash)
olive oil (as needed)
kosher salt (as needed)

1 tablespoon olive oil
freshly ground pepper (as needed)
6 cipolline onions, quartered
6 brown mushrooms, quartered
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
3 ounces of blue cheese (i.e., St Agur, Gorgonzola)
quality balsamic vinegar (optional)

how to:

  • Prepare Onions and Mushrooms. Peel onions and cut into quarters.  Wash mushrooms, trim, and cut into quarters.  Set aside (this can be done the day before and placed in the refrigerator overnight).
  • Prepare Squash. Cut squash in half.  Remove seeds and pulp with a spoon.  Place cut side face down on a cutting board.  Slice the squash vertically into wedges about 3/4 inch in width.  Set aside (this can be done the day before and the squash can be placed in the refrigerator overnight).
  • Coat With Oil. Brush  squash flesh with a light coat of olive oil.  Sprinkle with kosher salt.  Place the squash on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • Roast.  Place squash in an oven preheated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.   Roast for about  5-7 minutes.  After 5 minutes,  turn the squash over so they do not dry out.   Squash is done when soft.  Remove from the oven and cover with aluminum foil to keep squash warm.
  • Sauté Onions and Mushrooms. Place a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.  Once warm, add about 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  When olive oil is hot, add the onions and thyme leaves.  Toss to coat in the oil.  Sauté for about 3-4 minutes.  Add mushrooms.   Add pinch(es) of salt.  Onions are done when they are golden brown and the mushrooms are brown but still have their shape
  • Plate. Place some mushrooms and onions on the plate.  To the side, place 1-2 wedges of squash.  Place about a tablespoon of cheese on top of the squash.  Drizzle olive oil on top.  Sprinkle with crushed toasted walnuts and fleur de sel.  Drizzle balsamic vinegar over the squash and cheese (optional).  Serve warm.

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2 Responses to “vegetables first”

  1. Lisa,
    Love your website and your mouth-watering recipes! Keep them coming!! I love seeing your email address in my inbox :-)

  2. Anonymous says:

    Three words…mmm, mmm, mmm! Even my super picky 12yr old gobbled it up

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