A Thanksgiving Challenge!
Can you create a holiday hybrid using traditional recipes and unique locally grown produce that the whole family will love?
I’m the holiday black sheep of my family. While my family hugs closely to the traditional comfort food favorites of green bean casserole, corn casserole, buttery mashed potatoes, and Hawaiian dinner rolls, I’m the crazy cousin that’s trying get everyone to eat kale. One year I brought radish crostini, another time roasted root vegetables in a light vinaigrette. Results have varied. The year I brought roasted Brussel sprouts was a bust (I think I was the only person who ate them), so last year it was a sneak attack: spinach salad tossed with bacon.
What started off as a way to lighten up our heavy holiday meal with some fresh veg has slowly evolved into a personal challenge in which my entire family is unwittingly participating. It’s not that I don’t love traditional holiday recipes, I do! But I also love that look on a person’s face when they try beets for the first time and realize that they’re actually delicious, and I see no reason why I can't have the best of both worlds. Plus I just can’t help turning everything into a challenge, I just can't. It’s so much more fun that way! I’ve wised up in my approach over the years and now try to mix the traditional recipes and well-loved foods of my family with the fresh, seasonal, and sometimes lesser-known vegetables that I love. The goal is to create a holiday hybrid that even my picky little sister will try.
And so now I’m issuing the challenge to you as well. This year put a twist on your Thanksgiving favorites with local, seasonal produce. Come up with something fresh and fun and share in the spirit of Thanksgiving by celebrating the bounty of goodness that is grown and harvested right here in central Illinois. Find a holiday farmers market near you and give thanks by buying locally.
This year I’ll be serving up a brown butter, sweet potato and Brussel sprout pasta salad. Yep, giving those Brussel sprouts a go again! What will you bring to the table? Share your recipes and pictures here.
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes 2 cups halved brussels sprouts 1/2 red onion, sliced 1 tablespoon olive oil Salt and black pepper, to taste 6 tablespoons unsalted butter 8 ounces whole wheat pasta (we used DeLallo Organic Whole Wheat Fussili) 1/2 cup pecans 1/2 cup dried cranberries 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place the sweet potato, brussels sprouts, and red onion on a large baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and toss. Season with salt and black pepper, to taste. Roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from oven and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, brown the butter. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat and continue to cook, swirling occasionally, until butter turns golden brown, Skim foam from top, and remove from heat. Pour into a bowl to stop the cooking and set aside.
3. Bring a large pot of water to boil. When the water comes to a rolling boil, add a little salt, then add the pasta. Cook pasta to al dente, cooked through but still a little firm. When the pasta is done cooking, drain and put back in the pot.
4. Pour brown butter over the pasta and add the roasted vegetables. Heat over medium until heated through. Remove from heat and stir in the pecans, dried cranberries, and feta cheese. Season with salt and black pepper, to taste. Serve.