Holiday season is almost here, Minnesota. Is there a better way to celebrate than with a delicious meal?
Whether you celebrate holidays with family, friends or just join a potluck, sharing a good meal is about companionship, community and, of course, good flavors.
That’s why MPR News and The Splendid Table have joined forces and built up a list of seven side dish recipes that combine healthy seasonal ingredients, easy cooking techniques and can even be adapted to diverse dietary restrictions.
Dare to prepare at least one of these recipes and savor the holiday season.
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The sauce here is rather like a vegetarian version of the Piedmontese anchovy sauce, bagna cauda (though it’s even more umami-packed). It’s not one of those vegetable recipes that feels like a side dish, where you keep searching for the focus, but has enough different flavors and textures from each vegetable to be layered and surprising.
For the vegetables
10 thin carrots from a bunch with greens attached, in mixed colors if possible
1lb 2oz celery root
1lb 2oz butternut squash or pumpkin, seeded and cut into wedges about 1 1/4 in thick
3 large white or red onions, cut into wedges
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
3 Belgian endives, red or white (or a mixture)
For the sauce
1/2 cup walnut pieces
1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil (a fruity rather than a grassy one)
5 tablespoons red miso paste
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
3 fat garlic cloves, finely grated
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Trim the carrots at the top and tips (if there are long straggly bits on the tips). Leave the green tufts if there are any, but wash them really well. If you haven’t been able to get slim carrots, then halve them along their length.
Peel the celery root and cut it into wedges about 3/4 in thick. Put all the vegetables—except the Belgian endive—into a couple of roasting pans, or sheet pans that have a lip all the way around, in which they can lie in a single layer. Add the olive oil, season (don’t use too much salt, as the sauce will be salty), and toss everything around with your hands. Roast for 40 minutes, until tender and slightly scorched, turning them once. Quarter the Belgian endive heads and add halfway through, tossing them in the oil.
Make the sauce. Pound the walnuts in a mortar — or pulse-blend in a food processor — until you have a mixture that is part finely ground and part chunky.
Pour the olive oil into a saucepan set over a very gentle heat. Add the miso and whisk it together: the miso will stay in little globules separate from the oil, but that’s normal. Add the chili and garlic and simmer very gently for about 5 minutes, stirring every so often. The garlic must not color. Stir in the walnuts and cook for another 2 minutes.
Transfer the vegetables to a warmed platter. Either spoon the sauce over the top, or serve it on the side.
Recipe excerpted from “From the Oven to the Table” by Diana Henry. Copyright 2019 Mitchell Beazley.
Serves 4 to 6
An autumn supper in a bowl, this is a “sauce” that you roast in the oven in about 30 minutes: chunks of sweet squash, roasted herbs and greens. Add half-and-half, toss with hot pasta and cheese and you have a great sell to the anti-vegetable contingent.
5 quarts salted water in a 6-quart pot
3 to 3-1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into bite-sized chunks
1 medium to large onion, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 big handfuls escarole or curly endive that has been washed, dried and torn into small pieces, or spring mix
1/3 tight-packed cup fresh basil leaves, torn
16 large fresh sage leaves, torn
5 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup good-tasting extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tight-packed tablespoon brown sugar (light or dark)
Salt and fresh-ground black pepper
Pasta and Finish:
1 pound imported bow-tie pasta
1/2 cup half-and-half
1 to 1-1/2 cups (about 6 ounces) shredded Asiago cheese
Slip one large or two smaller shallow sheet pans into the oven. Preheat the oven to 450 F. Bring the salted water to a boil.
In a big bowl, toss together all the ingredients for the roasted vegetables. Be generous with the salt and pepper.
Pull out the oven rack holding the sheet pan. Taking care not to burn yourself, turn the squash blend onto the hot sheet pan and spread it out. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the squash is tender, turning the vegetables two or three times during roasting.
As the squash becomes tender, drop the pasta into the boiling water and cook it until tender, but with some firmness to the bite. Drain in a colander.
Once the squash is tender, turn on the broiler to caramelize it. Watch the vegetables closely, turning the pieces often. Anticipate about 5 minutes under the broiler. You want crusty brown edges on the squash and wilted, almost crisp greens.
Scrape everything into a serving bowl. Add the half-and-half, hot pasta, and 1 cup of cheese. Toss to blend, tasting for salt and pepper. Add more cheese if desired. Serve hot.
Reprinted from “The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper” by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift (Clarkson Potter | Publishers, 2008). Copyright 2008 by American Public Media.
We love adding fresh herbs to any salad because they are loaded with micronutrients and add a pop of flavor. Think basil, parsley, cilantro, chives, mint, thyme, and in this recipe, dill! Dill is a medicinal herb that has been used for more than 2,000 years.
Rich in antioxidants and a good source of vitamin C, magnesium, and vitamin A, it combines beautifully with the mustard in this dressing. Go ahead and make a double batch of dressing for dipping crackers and veggies — it stores well for up to 5 days in the fridge. Garnish with chopped dill and sunflower seeds.
1 purple sweet potato, washed and cubed
3 cups salad greens of your choice
1/4 cucumber, chopped
1/2 avocado, pitted and cubed
1/2 can (7.5 ounces) chickpeas, about 3/4 cup, drained and rinsed
1 cup broccoli florets
1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped, optional
2 teaspoons dried dill
3 tablespoons ground mustard
1 tablespoon tahini
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
Sea salt and pepper to taste
Bring a pot of water to boil over high heat. Add the potato cubes and cook until soft, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine potatoes, salad greens, cucumber, avocado, chickpeas, broccoli, and fresh dill, if using.
To make the dressing, combine the dried dill, mustard, tahini, turmeric, and salt and pepper in a glass jar or a bowl, and stir with a fork until smooth, adding water to thin as needed.
Pour the dressing over the salad and toss gently to combine. Enjoy!
Excerpted from “Your Super Life: 100+ Delicious, Plant-Based Recipes Made with Nature’s Most Powerful Superfoods” © 2023 by Michael Kuech and Kristel de Groot. Photography © 2023 by Patricia Langwara. Reproduced by permission of Harvest, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Serves 4 to 6 as a snack
This recipe is inspired by fond memories of shrimp toast, a treat from childhood lunches at my uncle’s Sydney restaurant, Lee’s Fortuna Court. This beloved Cantonese snack features small triangles of bread, which are smeared with a paste made from minced shrimp, then dipped in sesame seeds and deep-fried. This mushroom version satiates my hunger, thanks to the rich, bold mushroom pâté, which I use as the paste for the bread. This “fried bread” is pure comfort food. If you’re short on time, use store-bought mushroom pâté.
6 thick slices of white bread
¾–1 cup mushroom, leek and walnut pâté (see below)
2 green onions, finely chopped, plus more to serve
⅓ cup toasted sesame seeds (white, black or both)
extra-virgin olive oil
Sweet and sour sauce
4 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari
2 ½ tablespoons ketchup
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
To make the sweet and sour sauce, place all the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.
Lay out the bread slices and spread a thick layer of the mushroom pâté on all of them, extending all the way to the edges. Scatter with the green onion and a little sea salt and gently press the green onion into the pâté. Pour the sesame seeds onto a plate and press the bread, pâté-side down, into the sesame seeds to coat evenly.
Pour about ⅜ inch (1 cm) of olive oil into a large skillet and set over medium-high heat until hot. Add a tiny blob of pâté to the oil; if it sizzles, the oil is ready. Working in two or three batches, fry the toasts, pâté-side down, until golden and crisp, about 2 minutes, then flip and cook until the other sides are golden and crisp, about 1 minute. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel to drain.
Cut each toast diagonally into quarters and top with more green onion, then serve with the sweet and sour sauce on the side.
For gluten-free and vegan: use gluten-free bread
Mushroom, leek and walnut pâté
I have no fear of brown food. I grew up eating it; some of my favorite childhood dishes were the color of dirt, wood and the earth. I’m not sure where the repudiation of brown food came from — perhaps it was born with the rise of social media and the need to ensure that food is always bright and beautiful, but, to me, some of the most delicious foods in the world are this earthy hue.
Brown represents warmth, steadfastness, simplicity and this is how I see this very brown, very tasty mushroom pâté. It is an everything food that is incredibly adaptable — spread it on crackers and in sandwiches, add it to dumpling fillings, wrap in filo pastry to make little triangles, serve with scrambled eggs or use it to make the Sesame Mushroom Toast.
Experiment with different types of mushrooms to achieve slightly different results—button mushrooms will give you a pâté that is milder in both flavor and color, while wild mushrooms will yield a more intense spread.
Makes about 1 ½ cups
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 large leek, white and green parts finely sliced and washed well
1 ounce (30 g) dried porcini or Chinese shiitake mushrooms, soaked in hot water for at least 20 minutes
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 pound (450 g) mushrooms (any variety), roughly chopped
1 teaspoon five-spice powder
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Sea salt and black pepper
1 cup (100 g) walnuts, soaked in warm water for 10 minutes
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the leek, then cook for 6 – 8 minutes, until softened.
Meanwhile, remove the dried mushrooms from their soaking water and squeeze to remove excess liquid. Roughly chop the mushrooms, then strain the soaking liquid through paper towel or a fine-mesh sieve to remove any grit and sediment. Set the liquid aside.
Add the garlic, chopped mushroom and rehydrated dried mushrooms to the pan and stir for 5 minutes, until softened. Add the five-spice powder and red pepper flakes and season well with sea salt and black pepper. Set aside to cool for 5 – 10 minutes.
Drain the walnuts and add them to a food processor or blender, along with the cooled mushroom mixture, and pulse about 10 times, using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon to scrape down the side. If the mixture is thick and hard to blend, add a little of the mushroom soaking liquid to get the motor going. Continue pulsing (this gives you more control over the final texture, but you could just press blend and let it go) until you have reached your desired consistency — I like it almost smooth, with a little texture. Traditional pâté is very smooth. Spoon into a bowl or jar. Consume immediately or chill in the fridge for 2 hours, to allow the flavors to mingle.
Storage: Keep the pâté in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 – 4 days. Freeze in a zip-seal bag for up to 1 month and thaw by allowing to come to room temperature.
Serving suggestions: Spread a generous layer of pâté on bread and top with finely chopped chives and olive oil, an egg (fried or soft-boiled), dots of quick-pickled shallot or onion, scattered goat cheese or a drizzle of Umami Crisp or chili oil.
Gluten-free and vegan substitutes: leek with yellow onion, walnuts with cashews, pecans or hazelnuts.
Credit line: From “Tenderheart: A Cookbook About Vegetables and Unbreakable Family Bonds” © 2023 by Hetty Lui McKinnon. Excerpted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Makes 8 samosas
We put these on the menu in the fall close to Thanksgiving and Christmas because sweet potatoes and cranberries are so much a part of the American table at that time of year. In the summer, we may fill the samosas with corn and fava beans. Samosas are the traditional, pyramid-shaped fried pastries common in India, especially in the northern part. They are usually filled with potatoes and peas and served with mint-cilantro chutney and tamarind chutney.
We use square spring roll pastry sheets instead of a heavy dough because it makes the samosas lighter and crispier. Also, it’s a lot easier to use. These are wheat-flour-based and made without eggs, so they are vegan. Do not confuse them with egg roll wrappers, which are thicker than spring roll sheets and made with eggs, or with rice paper, which is used for Vietnamese spring rolls.
Assembled samosas freeze well, so you can make these through Step 5 up to a month ahead, provided they are wrapped well. Thaw them before baking.
1 green onion, dark green tops only, cut lengthwise into 8 strips (1/2 inch wide)
1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/4 cup canola oil, plus 6 cups for deep-trying
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1-inch piece fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh Thai green chili
1/2 teaspoon chaat masala
1/4 teaspoon deggi mirch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
8 (6 x 6-inch) spring roll pastry sheets, such as Spring Home Brand
1/2 Cranberry Chutney (see recipe below)
Set up a small bowl of ice and water. Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Dip the green onion strips into the boiling water, then transfer them to the ice water. Drain them and blot them dry on paper towels. You will use these as “strings” to tie the purses.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a small baking sheet with foil or parchment.
Coat the sweet potatoes with 2 tablespoons of the oil and spread them on the baking sheet. Bake until soft, about 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and mash the potatoes with a potato masher. (You can do this right on the pan.)
In a medium skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add the cumin seeds and let them crackle. Add the ginger, green chili, chaat masala, deggi mirch, and salt, stirring to combine. Sauté for 1 minute, then mix in the mashed sweet potatoes and lemon juice. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and let the filling cool.
Lay the spring roll wrappers on the counter. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling the center of each. Join two opposite corners, then bring up the other two to create a purse and hold it together by tying a green onion string around it with a double knot.
Line a plate with paper towels. Pour the 6 cups of oil into a wok or kadai and heat to 350°F. Fry the samosas until golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn them constantly with a spider strainer or skimmer so they brown evenly. Transfer to paper towels to blot them and serve with cranberry chutney.
Cranberries are not something you’d find in India. I associate them with Thanksgiving, so I created this chutney to go with fall dishes, such as Sweet Potato Samosa Purses. By the way, try this chutney as a stand-in for cranberry sauce on your Thanksgiving table. Makes about 3/4 Cups.
1 cup cranberries, fresh or frozen
1 1/2 cups white grape juice
4 ounces jaggery
1 medium fresh Thai green chili, stemmed, halved lengthwise
1 dried Indian bay leaf, torn into pieces
5 green cardamom pods
3-inch cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
5 whole cloves
Strips of zest* from 1/2 orange
1/4 teaspoon salt
* Use a vegetable peeler to pull off strips of zest, just the thin orange layer of the peel.
In a small saucepan, combine the cranberries, grape juice, and jaggery.
On a 6-inch square of cheesecloth, place the green chili halves, bay leaf, cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and orange zest.
Fold the cheesecloth’s corners up to form a sachet and tie it closed with kitchen twine.
Add the sachet to the pan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until thick, about 40 minutes.
Discard the sachet. Stir in the salt. Cool completely.
Store in an airtight container (or containers) in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Recipe preprinted with permission from “Rasika: Flavors of India” by Ashok Baja, Vikram Sunderam, and David Hagedorn. Copyright 2017 Ecco.
Makes 1 10-inch cake
Using a good-quality olive oil makes a difference in this cake, which is dense and moist and just the right amount of sweetness. It goes well at the end of the meal, but it can also be a nice treat in the morning with a cup of herbal tea.
Butter, for the baking dish
3 large eggs
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups whole milk
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for the baking dish
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 medium apples
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 10-inch springform pan, or line a round cake pan with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar. Stir in the olive oil, milk, and lemon zest.
In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry, stirring until just blended. Do not overmix. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan.
Place the lemon juice in a large bowl. Peel the apples, and using a mandoline, thinly slice them, dropping the slices into the lemon juice to prevent browning. Arrange the apple slices on top of the cake batter.
Bake for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, until the cake is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. (The bake time may vary. If the cake needs more time but is browning too quickly, tent it with foil and continue baking.) Cool in the pan before unmolding.
From “Sunday Suppers” by Karen Mordechai, Clarkson Potter 2014.
Serves 6 as a side dish
I’m cheating here, because this isn’t entirely cooked in the oven, but the brief roasting is what helps Brussels sprouts achieve their optimum potential, instead of waterlogging them in a saucepan. I ate a similar dish at Rotisserie Georgette in New York — a restaurant that specializes in roast chicken — then came straight home and made this. It’s been a regular in my house ever since, and not just at Christmas.
1 1/2 lbs Brussels sprouts (any discolored outer leaves removed), trimmed and halved
2 1/4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 lb bacon lardons
1 large tart apple, such as Granny Smith
1 large onion, cut into fine crescent moons
1/2 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon unsalted butter (optional, you may feel this is gilding the lily)
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Lay the sprouts in a single layer in 1 or 2 roasting pans. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, season, and toss.
Roast for 20 minutes, or until the edges begin to look brown and frazzled (they can turn from frazzled to burned very quickly, so keep an eye on them). They won’t cook right through, but will finish cooking later.
Heat the remaining 1 teaspoon oil in a sauté pan and fry the bacon lardons until golden and cooked through. Lift out with a slotted spoon.
Remove all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the pan (fat will have rendered from the bacon). Core the apple and cut it into fine crescents, then add to the pan with the onion. Cook over medium heat until golden and soft (though the apple shouldn’t be collapsing). It will take about 5 minutes.
Add the sugar, both vinegars, the wine, and the mustard. Return the bacon and season to taste. Toss well and cook until the wine has reduced by about half, then add the sprouts and cook until they are only just tender, but not floppy (all the juices around them should have reduced).
Toss in the butter, if you’re using it. Check the seasoning and serve.
Recipe excerpted from “From the Oven to the Table” by Diana Henry. Copyright 2019 Mitchell Beazley.
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