Let the feasting begin! We are well into the season of parties, family gatherings, long, leisurely times at the table.
I thought it might be fun to share some of my favorites with you…mix and match them to create fabulous sides for your holiday feasts.
Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Orange
Everyone has a couple of baked sweet potatoes in the fridge left over from the big feast. I use them to create this quick, yummy appetizer that is great on a bed of greens.
Makes 4 servings
3 baked sweet potatoes
1 tablespoon brown rice syrup
1 tablespoon avocado oil
½ teaspoon sea salt
Generous pinch cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
½ orange, peeled, thinly sliced into half-moon pieces
3-4 leaves fresh kale, steamed for 3 minutes, coarsely chopped
Scoop flesh out of sweet potato skins into a mixing bowl. Combine sweet potatoes with remaining ingredients in a bowl and mash or beat until well blended and creamy. To serve, mound steamed kale on 4 salad plates and scoop sweet potato mixture on top. Garnish with orange slices.
Roasted Vegetable Soup
One of my favorite holiday side dishes is a combination of roasted carrots, parsnips and onions. When unexpected company arrives, simply take those leftover roasted veggies and create this lovely, cozy, thick soup. With a crisp salad and crusty bread, you have a feast in minutes.
Makes 4 to 5 servings
2 teaspoons avocado oil
2 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced
2 cups leftover Roasted Carrots, Parsnips and Onions (recipe follows)
4 cups spring or filtered water
¼ cup pearl barley, rinsed very well
2-3 sprigs fresh parsley, for garnish
Place oil and garlic in a soup pot and sauté for 1 minute. Stir in leftover veggies and barley and add water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer until barley is soft, about 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and simmer 3 minutes more. Serve hot,
garnished with fresh parsley.
Roasted Carrots, Parsnips and Onions
This yummy side dish is a real crowd pleaser and makes a great soup with leftovers (see above) or whipped into a pate to serve on crackers.
Makes 5 to 6 servings
2 medium carrots, cut into 1-inch irregular chunks
2 medium parsnips, cut into 1-inch irregular chunks
2 red onions, cut lengthwise into 8 wedges
8 cloves fresh garlic, peeled, left whole
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
3 to 4 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley, coarsely minced, for garnish
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Place vegetables in a mixing bowl and add oil, vinegar and salt. Toss to coat. Arrange vegetables in a shallow baking dish, avoiding overlap. Cover tightly and bake for 45 minutes. Remove cover and return vegetables to the oven for 10 to 15 minutes to brown the edges lightly. Remove from oven and toss gently with lemon juice and parsley. Serve immediately.
Spicy White Bean-Tomato Pate
As an Italian, cannellini beans play a big role in my cooking, even at the holidays. This great special occasion starter, served with elegant toast points or crackers, is the perfect appetizer or snack. Or mound it in a bowl and serve it with delicious whole grain bread.
Makes 2-3 cups pate
extra virgin olive oil
2-3 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced
1 red onion, finely diced
generous pinch crushed red pepper flakes
2 cups cooked cannellini beans
1/3 cup oil-cured sun-dried tomatoes, diced
grated zest of 1 lemon
juice of ½ fresh lemon
generous pinch dried basil
2-3 leaves Romaine lettuce, washed well, left whole
1 sprig fresh parsley, finely minced
Place a small amount of oil, garlic and onion in a deep skillet and turn heat to medium. When the onions begin to sizzle, add a pinch of salt and the red pepper flakes and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add beans, tomatoes and lemon zest, season to taste with salt and cook, stirring for 1-2 minutes.
Transfer bean mixture to a food processor. Add lemon juice and dried basil and puree until smooth. If the mixture is too thick, add 1-2 tablespoons olive oil or water to loosen. Note that olive oil will create a much richer pate than the water.
To serve, lay lettuce leaves around the rim of a platter. Mound pate in the center and sprinkle with parsley. You may also press the pate into a shallow bowl for a more casual presentation. Serve with crackers, pita or toast points.
Note: You can use canned organic cannellini beans if you don’t have any cooked ones around the kitchen.