Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Thanksgiving Side Notes

Beyond the Candied Yams: Two Yummy Side Dishes Get Creative with Sweet Potatoes

Welcome to From Nana’s Kitchen With Love’s first blog series, featuring as many “Thanksgiving Side Notes” as time allows before Turkey Day arrives on November 25th. As my astute readers may already have gathered, “Side Notes” is a play on tasty words! From here to the end of November, my posts will focus on side dishes, with two bonus “side notes” on how to pardon a turkey (look for this next week), as well as make the most of your leftovers—the ones we may be all too quick to wrap in tinfoil and forget about when Black Friday calls for a pick-me-up.

But as an aside…have you thought about your side dishes this year? Isn’t that what the Thanksgiving Day spread is really all about? Friends and family sitting down to a bountiful meal generally bring something homemade to the table: a sweet and fragrant pumpkin pie, Waldorf salad, homemade cranberries or flaky rolls; for what seems like centuries people have made a fuss over the perfect dressing, stuffing, and how you shouldn’t do anything more to Green Bean Casserole than follow the directions on the back of Mushroom Soup. When somebody adds a special twist to a side dish on Thanksgiving Day, it makes its way into the annals of family history. Doesn’t everyone have an Aunt, Grandma or Uncle Freddie with a special recipe—someone who makes skinny mashed potatoes or leaves the red skins in better than anyone else?

Whether you’re playing hostess this Thanksgiving, or getting on the road with a pack-and-go side dish, the food that surrounds that glistening Butter Ball is every bit as important as the bird itself, which is why I am introducing two fabulous sides that—should there be too many cooks in the kitchen (I’m talking grandchildren bored with the Macy’s Parade)—they can safely take up Nana’s New Favorite Thing and help the harried chef.

I’m talking about a ceramic U-shaped vegetable peeler I found at Sur La Table, that makes it incredibly safe and easy for someone as young as 3-years-old to help peel the potatoes and get the crudités out to your peckish dinner guests. When I was hunting around for a kid-friendly peeler, I read that Sur La Table’s variety is used in Montessori Schools where cooking skills are taught to children.

For the two side dishes I’m proposing this Thanksgiving, you’re in luck if the sack of spuds you pick up contain at least six sweet potatoes! Hand over 2 sweet potatoes to your grandkids, and let them go nuts with the ceramic vegetable peeler; my Sweet Potato Apple Salad With Honey, Ginger and Mustard Dressing calls for two peeled sweet potatoes, best roasted, then tossed into the salad once they cool off. Let your grandchildren toss this salad with spices that can run the gambit of personal choice. I like chili powder, cumin and paprika!

My other side, one that Nana can easily manage alone is Stuffed Sweet Potatoes With Spinach and Corn. Who wouldn’t love this one? It covers some major bases on the Thanksgiving checklist, uniting greens and sweet corn, taken right off the cob; the recipe uses four golden ears of it, plus 4 sweet potatoes. This dish looks gorgeous sitting on your table, right next to flutes of champagne and those Pilgrim salt & peppershakers.

Enjoy these recipes my friends…and stay tune for more Thanksgiving Side Notes!

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