On The Side

By Linda Pescatore

August 1, 2008 6 min read

ON THE SIDE

Delicious veggie dishes provide fabulous flavor at your holiday table

By Linda Pescatore

Creators News Service

Tom Turkey is one tremendous ham. While no one would begrudge him his star billing on Thanksgiving, don't be afraid to let your side dishes share the spotlight. After all, this holiday is all about bounty and the cornucopia of riches our land provides.

So how do you make veggies memorable? Showcase a rich variety of colors and textures and shapes in unexpected ways. In other words, play with your food.

Turn a sweet potato into a pilgrim ship. Roll a stalk of asparagus like a pig in a blanket. Let a miniature pumpkin overflow with the flavors of fall. Making a side dish fun to look at and easy to hold is the first step in getting kids to eat their vegetables. In fact, these recipes are easy enough to let kids help in the kitchen. But don't limit the fun to the children's table; these delish dishes are sophisticated enough flavor-wise that grown-ups will gobble them up, too.

MAYFLOWER SWEET POTATOES

6 small sweet potatoes

6 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened

2 tablespoons half-and-half

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Dash salt

1/3 cup Ocean Spray Craisins Original Sweetened Dried Cranberries

3/4 cup miniature marshmallows

6 4-inch squares white paper, optional

6 toothpicks, optional

Yield 6 servings.

Poke potatoes all over with a fork. Place in single layer in microwave. Microwave for 5 minutes on high. Turn potatoes and, if necessary, cook an additional minute at a time until softened.

When potatoes are cool, cut off the top 1/3. Scoop out flesh into large mixing bowl, leaving a 1/4-inch shell. Place shells on a baking sheet and set aside.

Add butter, half-and-half, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice and salt to sweet potato pulp. Whip potatoes until creamy, using a potato masher or electric mixer. Stir in cranberries. Spoon mixture back into skins. Cover and refrigerate until 30 minutes before serving time.

Meanwhile, decorate white paper sails (a good task for kids to do). Cut 2 slits for toothpick mast near the bottom center of sails. Thread toothpick through slits. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Arrange marshmallows over top of potatoes. Bake potatoes, uncovered, for 10 to 15 minutes or until marshmallows are golden brown and potatoes are hot. Place potatoes on serving platter and insert a sail into each one.

- - - Recipe courtesy of Ocean Spray

You can prepare these ahead of time and bake just before serving.

CRISPY CALIFORNIA ASPARAGUS STRAWS

36 California asparagus spears

4 sheets of phyllo dough, thawed

4 oz. parmesan cheese, grated

36 slices prosciutto, optional

1/4 cup butter, melted

Salt and pepper to taste

Yield 36 asparagus straws

Preheat oven to 425 F. Trim ends of asparagus. Blanch asparagus in boiling salted water until lightly tender to the bite, about 3 minutes.

Place one sheet of phyllo on a cutting board. Set aside the remaining sheets, covering with damp towel. Brush the phyllo sheet with melted butter. Cut into 9 rectangles, two cuts down from the top, two cuts across. Place an asparagus spear and prosciutto (if desired) at the bottom of the short side of the rectangle with the tip sticking out of the dough by 2 inches. Sprinkle a teaspoon of cheese. Roll up spear and seal with butter. Finish with remaining spears.

Place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle with remaining cheese, salt and pepper. Cover the exposed asparagus tips with foil. Bake until golden brown and crispy, 10-12 minutes. Serve warm.

- - - Recipe courtesy of California Asparagus Commission

BAKED STUFFED PUMPKIN

4 oz. sweet Italian sausage

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 (1 1/2-pound ) pumpkin, peeled, seeded, and cut into 3/4-inch pieces

1/2 cup chopped Granny Smith apples

1/4 cup white wine

1 cup Israeli couscous, cooked

1/4 cup dried cranberries

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon fresh thyme

1 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

4 small (1-pound) pumpkins, hollowed out. Choose varieties such as Small Sugar, Little Boo, or Jack Be Little.

Yields 4 pumpkins

Preheat oven to 350 F. Decase and crumble sausage meat and place in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook until almost done, about 8 minutes. Remove sausage from pan, increase heat to medium, and add onion and 2 cups of chopped pumpkin. Saute until pumpkin begins to soften, approximately 5-7 minutes. Add the chopped apple and sausage and saute 3 minutes. Add wine, cook 2 minutes, remove from heat and set aside. Combine the couscous, dried cranberries, olive oil, thyme, oregano, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Add meat mixture to the bowl and toss. Evenly fill hollowed-out mini pumpkins with stuffing mixture and place in a shallow baking dish. Cover dish with aluminum foil, bake for 25 minutes, remove foil, and bake for 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

- - - Recipe courtesy of Country Living Magazine

(c) Creators News Service

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