New and interesting Thanksgiving dishes

October 30, 2008 6:51:50 PM PDT
Tony Stallone, the vice president of Merchandising and Food Safety for Peapod, shares some side dishes with a twist.Instead of mashed potatoes, try whipping your potatoes with a pureed celery root. Stallone says this will add a new dimension to those sometimes bland-tasting mashed potatoes. Celery root or celeriac is a very odd looking vegetable that is a member of the celery family. It has a unique fresh flavor to liven up the Thanksgiving feast. It is a very popular vegetable in France and Italy, but much over looked in the United States. Celeriac marries well with potatoes so they work well in potato casserole and mashed potatoes. You can also make a fresh celery root puree soup or even sliced fresh in salads for this Thanksgiving. They are more nutritious than potatoes, high in Vitamin C, fiber, potassium and lower in calories. They keep for up to 2 to 3 weeks in the refrigerator. When selecting a celery root look for a clean, very firm root. If it is soft it means it is old.

Or how about mashed, roasted parsnips? Everyone will love the simplicity of this recipe as well as its unique flavor. What is a parsnip anyway? According to Stallone, many people mistake it for an ivory colored carrot but it makes a great vegetable. Especially this time of the year when parsnips are at their sweetest and they pack more nutrition than those potatoes. Parsnips are planted in the spring and usually harvested after the first frost. Farmer-lore has it that the frost triggers the change from starch to sugar in parsnips.

According to Stallone, it is also historically interesting to note that the first Thanksgiving did not include potatoes as they were not native to this land and not brought over until the 18th century by Irish immigrants. So if anything, the pilgrims might have enjoyed their first Thanksgiving with roasted mashed parsnips.

Lastly, Stallone suggests you throw out that heavy handed green bean casserole made with cemented cream of mushroom soup, greasy French fried onions and canned water-logged green beans. He suggests green bean almandine with roasted shallots made with fresh green crisp green beans.

Celery Root and Potato Mash
1 pound fresh celery root (celeriac), peeled and diced (1/4-inch)

1 pound white or yellow potatoes, peeled and diced (1/4-inch)

2 teaspoons coarse salt

6 cups water

1/4 cup chicken stock or broth

1/4 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons butter

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Place the diced celery root and potatoes in a medium-size saucepan with the salt and water. Cover and cook over high heat until tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain the vegetables and mash them with a potato masher. Return the puree to a saucepan and gently reheat over low heat. Add enough chicken stock and cream to moisten, and stir in the butter until melted. Serves 4.

Pureed Roasted Parsnips Recipe
2 lbs parsnips, peeled, stringy cores removed, chopped (about 1 1/2 pounds after removing cores)

3 Tbsp butter, melted

1 1/2 cup water

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400°F. Peel parsnips, make a cut off the top of the fat end of each parsnip. This will show you extent of the inner core. Often this core is stringy and woody, especially at the larger end of the parsnip. When you are prepping the parsnips, cut around this core. Place chopped parsnips in a medium sized bowl, add the melted butter and stir to coat. Lay out the parsnips on a roasting pan in a single layer. Roast in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, at 400°F, until lightly golden, turning the parsnips once half-way through the cooking. Put cooked parsnips into a blender or food processor. Add 1 1/2 cups water, and pulse until pureed to the desired consistency. Add more water if necessary. Add nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste.

Make-ahead Green Beans Almandine with Roasted Shallots
6-7 each shallots

1 teaspoon olive oil

3 tablespoons melted butter

2 lbs fresh whole green beans, ends trimmed off

3 tablespoons sliced almonds

Salt/pepper

Peel shallots and cut in half. Place on cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Toss to coat. Roast in preheated 400 degree oven for approx. 20 minutes, stirring after 10 minutes. Shallots should be lightly caramelized. Remove from oven and let cool.

Meanwhile, place green beans in a large skillet; add 1/2 cup water. Over medium heat, cook green beans covered until crisp-tender, approx 15-20 min. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop cooking.

In a small saucepan, melt 1 tbsp. butter. Add sliced almonds. Sauté until golden brown; add to shallots. Melt remaining 2 tbsp in same saucepan. Place green beans in 9" square casserole dish and drizzle with melted butter. Season with salt and pepper. Top green beans with shallot mixture. Cover with foil and refrigerate until ready to use. Approx. 25 minutes before serving, place green beans in preheated 350 degree oven and bake for approx. 15-20 minutes. Remove foil, and heat an additional 5 minutes or until heated through.


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