Tuesday, November 22, 2016


What dishes do you think of when planing your Thanksgiving dinner? For some of us, the celebratory banquet includes similar dishes year after year, such as roast turkey with stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes,  candied yams and pumpkin pie. When the Pilgrims invited the Wampanoag Indians in 1621 to the historic feast to celebrate their successful harvest, most of what we as Americans think of traditional Thanksgiving dishes were not on the menu. 

The first "Thanksgiving" was a three day festival of eating, hunting and entertainment and since no record exists of the feasts exact menu, historians can only surmise the details from writings of Edward Winslow, William Bradford and predictions based on the crops that were prolific at that time. Edward Winslow wrote in his journal that the Governor Bradford sent four men on a "fowling" mission in preparation of the event and that the Wampanoag arrived with the gift of five deer, so venison and some type of  poultry were likely consumed in addition to native fruits like plums, melons, grapes, and cranberries, leeks, wild onions, beans, and squash. Other English crops such as turnips, cabbage, parsnips, onions, carrots, parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme might have also been on hand. It is assumed that since the Pilgrim's sugar supply had dwindled at the time of the feast, that the meal did not feature pies, cakes or desserts so typical in our contemporary Thanksgiving celebration.

When I think of Thanksgiving, I think of comfort food. Turkey accompanied by carb rich side dishes - stuffing, candied yams, mashed potatoes, squash, and green beans swimming in a creamy mushroom sauce with fried onions. Thanksgiving without them is just not Thanksgiving. Typically we Americans eat an overabundance of these starchy comfort foods and by the end of Thanksgiving dinner feel drowsy, weighed down and just stuffed....like the turkey. This year I decided to give guests an alternative; a healthier,lighter side dish, full of flavor but also full of nutrients. It looks festive, has some leafy greens, goat cheese, dried cranberries and roasted carrots.

 Maple-Roasted Carrot Salad. I found this recipe in Ina Garten's new book "Cooking for Jeffrey". I'll let you know how it turns out and if  any of my dinner guests decide to give it a try. And remember...this is an alternative not a replacement. I will try the salad but I'm still looking forward to the traditional stuffing, potatoes and pumpkin pie! HAPPY THANKSGIVING!


2 Pounds carrots
Good olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2/3 cup dried cranberries
2/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice ( 2 oranges )
3 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves - grated
6 ounces baby arugula
6 ounces goat cheese - medium diced
2/3 cup roasted, salted Marcona almonds


Preheat oven to 425 degrees
Trim and scrub the carrots. If the carrots are more than one inch in diameter, cut them in half lengthwise. Cut the carrots in large diagonal slices one inch wide and 2 inches long and place in a medium bowl with 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Toss well and transfer to two sheet pans. Roast for 20 minutes, tossing once, until the carrots are tender. Transfer all the carrots to one of the sheet pans and the maple syrup, toss, and roast for 10 - 15 minutes, until the edges are caramelized. Watch them carefully! Toss with a metal spatula and set aside for 10 minutes. 

Meanwhile, combine the cranberries and orange juice in a small saucepan, bring to a simmer, then set aside for 10 minutes. 

In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, garlic and 1/2 tsp salt. Whisk in 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Place the arugula in a large bowl and add the carrots, cranberries ( with their liquid ), goat cheese, almonds and the vinaigrette. Toss with large spoons, sprinkle with salt and serve at room temperature. 

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