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A celebration of side dishes

Wed., Nov. 14, 2012

Holiday recipes can meet dietary needs of any guest at the table

Traditional Thanksgiving dinner is hard enough – just making sure that everyone’s favorite dish is on the menu is enough to make even a seasoned cook’s head spin. Add a vegan or vegetarian to the guest list or someone with a gluten allergy, lactose intolerance or egg aversion and it can get downright difficult to make sure everyone will get stuffed, especially the turkey.

Here’s the trick: substantial sides. Make sure your Thanksgiving table has a hearty array of side dishes so all of your guests will have something to delicious to eat, no matter their dietary needs.

We have gathered some suggestions from local chefs, magazines and cookbooks for dishes that can be made vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free or gluten-free and appeal to almost anyone. Some of the recipes include adjustments if your dinner guests would prefer meat or don’t have to worry about allergies.

Maple Glazed Acorn Squash with Apple, Parsnip and Sage

Chef Sylvia Wilson, now Sylvia Fountaine after her recent marriage, shared a recipe from her Feasting at Home blog, These stuffed acorn squash have a delicious stuffing flavor profile but nary a crumb of bread, which will make those who can’t have gluten happy. Leave out the optional Italian sausage and it is a delicious vegan main dish. The squash look beautiful, too. (Psst… stay tuned to Feasting at Home. Fountaine is also working on a Shepherd-less Pie that is vegan and gluten-free.)

3 small acorn squash

2 cups peeled and diced parsnip (2 medium)

1 cup diced apple (Fuji or Gala)

1/2 onion, diced

1 cup (packed) chopped kale

2 tablespoons packed, chopped sage

2 tablespoon maple syrup, divided

1/2 cup maple glazed pecans (recipe follows)

1 cup cooked ground Italian sausage or pancetta (optional)

3 tablespoon olive oil, divided

Splash of white wine, sake, or hard cider

Kosher salt

Black pepper


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut acorn squash lengthwise and scoop out seeds with a spoon. Brush insides with a mix of 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon maple syrup. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper and lay skin side up on a greased baking sheet, and roast in a hot oven for 30-40 minutes, until you can pierce through skin and flesh with a fork. Remove from the oven and using a metal spatula, turn over, trying to keep caramelized edges intact, and let cool. Place in a baking dish.

While squash is roasting in the oven, sauté parsnips and onions in 2 tablespoons olive oil, on medium heat, until tender, about 10 minutes. Add apples and sage. Sauté 5 more minutes, until apples are tender. You may need to add a little more olive oil. Generously salt and pepper to taste. Add nutmeg if desired. Splash with a little white wine (or sake) and add kale and maple glazed pecans. When wine has evaporated, add 1 tablespoon maple syrup. Adjust salt.

Fountaine writes, “I personally like this better without meat. But if you are a hearty eater, you could add a little cooked ground Italian sausage, or pancetta to the mix.”

Fill the squash with the apple parsnip mixture and place in a 350 degree-oven until heated through (about 15 minutes).

For the maple pecans: In a small bowl lightly coat pecans with maple syrup. Add a pinch of salt and cracked pepper.

Spread out on a greased baking sheet and bake 15-20 minutes in a 400-degree oven, mixing once after 10 minutes.

Remove, let cool. While cooling use a metal spatula to unstick them from the sheet pan. Fountaine writes, “I make these in big batches and use in salads or cheese plates.”

Yield: 6 servings

Cider Braised Fennel with Mustard and Thyme

From Curtis Smith, chef/instructor Inland Northwest Culinary Academy at Spokane Community College. This recipe is vegan, gluten free and dairy free. Smith shared this recipe with a class he taught recently at INCA After Dark. It is an unusual and delicious addition to the holiday table.

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 bulbs fennel


Freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup vegetable stock or water

1 cup apple cider

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves

Remove stalks from fennel, and lightly chop fennel fronds to use for garnish. Cut bulbs into wedges about 1-2 inches thick.

Heat olive oil in a sauté pan large enough to hold fennel in a single layer. When oil is hot, add fennel, cut sides down. Cook over medium high heat until lightly browned, about 3-5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Turn fennel, brown other side, then add stock, cider and thyme to pan. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until fennel is tender, about 10-15 minutes. Use slotted spoon to transfer fennel to a plate.

Raise heat to high, and simmer liquid in pan until it thickens slightly, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat, and whisk in mustard. Return fennel to pan, coat with sauce and adjust seasonings. Transfer to serving platter and sprinkle with fennel fronds as garnish.

Yield: 3 to 4 servings

Green Bean Bundles with Bacon and Brown Sugar

Skip the classic Thanksgiving recipe with cream of mushroom soup and anyone who is lactose intolerant or needs a gluten-free option will thank you. From Williams-Sonoma’s 2012 Thanksgiving recipe booklet, “A Shared Thanksgiving 2012.” Editors write, “Wrapped with a strip of bacon, these green bean bundles add an elegant touch to the Thanksgiving table. To get a head start, you can trim and blanch the beans a day in advance, then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.”

8 thick bacon slices

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

3/4 teaspoon roasted garlic powder

1 1/2 pounds green beans, trimmed and blanched

1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

In a large nonstick fry pan over medium heat, cook the bacon in batches until the slices are just beginning to brown along the edges but are still very underdone and pliable, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and let cool, then cut each slice in half crosswise.

In a small bowl, whisk together the butter, salt and garlic powder.

Divide the green beans into 16 equal portions, about 6 beans each. Gather each portion into a neat bunch and wrap a half slice of bacon around the center to hold the beans together. Place the bundles on the prepared baking sheet with the loose ends of the bacon underneath. Sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the bundles and drizzle with the butter mixture.

Roast until the bacon is cooked through and browned, 20 to 25 minutes. Let stand for 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the green bean bundles to a warmed platter and serve immediately.

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

Sweet Potato-Chipotle Gratin

This vegetarian and gluten-free recipe is from Sunset magazine, first published in December 2002. It is similar to a new side dish that is on the menu at Clover restaurant in Spokane. Adjust the spice level by adding more or less chipotle pepper puree.

1/2 cup milk

2 canned chipotle chilies (about 1 tablespoon, including sauce)

About 1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 to 2 cups whipping cream (see notes)

3 1/2 pounds Garnet, Jewel, or other sweet potatoes (see notes)

In a blender, whirl milk, chilies, and 1/2 teaspoon salt until smooth. Stir in cream. Reserve 1/3 cup of the cream mixture.

Peel and rinse sweet potatoes; cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. In a shallow 2 1/2- to 3-quart casserole, arrange about a third of the sweet potatoes in an even layer, overlapping slices; evenly drizzle with about a third of the remaining cream mixture. Repeat to make two more layers of the sweet potatoes and cream.

Bake (covered, if using drier, pale-fleshed sweet potatoes; see notes) in a 400-degree regular or convection oven for 40 minutes. Uncover, if covered, and drizzle top evenly with about 3 tablespoons of the reserved cream mixture. Continue baking, basting occasionally with reserved cream mixture or pan juices, until potatoes are tender when pierced and top of gratin is browned, 15 to 25 minutes longer. Let stand about 5 minutes before serving. Scoop out portions with a large spoon.

Notes: Garnet and Jewel sweet potatoes have moist, dark orange flesh; they are often labeled as yams in grocery stores. If you use the drier yellow- or white-fleshed sweet potatoes, increase the cream used in step 1 to 2 cups and cover dish tightly before baking in step 3; uncover after 40 minutes of baking.

Yield: Makes 8 to 10 servings

Mushroom Fennel Quinoa Stuffing

From by Gina Homolka. She writes, “This savory quinoa stuffing is a delicious, protein-packed, gluten-free alternative to traditional stuffing. A wonderful addition to your Thanksgiving table, or perfect to serve any night of the week. Serve this alongside a roasted chicken, turkey breast, or make it a meal by adding sautéed turkey sausage. And just a side note, my uncle who doesn’t like quinoa was really impressed with the flavors in this dish.” Some of the people leaving comments on the Skinnytaste blog about this recipe suggest adding sage to the sautéed vegetables for a more traditional stuffing flavor.

1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed well

1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small onion, diced

3/4 cup diced fennel

1/2 cup diced celery

1/2 cup diced carrots

8 ounces sliced fresh mushrooms

Salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste

Cook rinsed quinoa in broth according to package directions.

While the quinoa is cooking, add olive oil to a large heavy sauté pan, then the onion and sauté 1 minute. Add the fennel, celery, and carrots, salt and pepper to taste; cook about 12-15 minutes over medium heat, until vegetables are soft.

Add the mushrooms to the pan, more salt and pepper if needed and cook, stirring 5 minutes, then cook covered for 2 minutes, or until the mushrooms have released their juice and are cooked through. Add the cooked quinoa to the pan and mix well.

Yield: 5 1/4 cups, 7 servings

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