Monday, October 28, 2013


Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday for many reasons. I love the idea of gathering around a table, motivated by no more than the celebration of gratitude, family and friends, and really, really great food. I start the T-Day planning weeks in advance out of pure excitement and anticipation [which is the main reason you're getting this post in October].

A few years ago, because I [and now my girls] forgo the standard turkey and stuffing fare, my mom came up with a more-than-suitable main course to stand in as centerpiece of the table. She wowed even the veggie-phoebes with her artistic arrangement of the harvest's finest treasures. As other's gasped with appreciation, I was taken aback by the time and care she put in to making something special for her daughter [a common occurrence throughout my life]. It has since become a much-loved Thanksgiving tradition.

Over the next few weeks, as you plan and prepare for the upcoming holiday[s], I hope you find the time and presence to name every person and thing you are grateful for with each cut or chop or assemble. May you let the anticipation be part of the giving thanks, letting it seep into each day. May your heart swell with blessing and body warm with really, really great food.

Oh, and thanks mom for taking care of your girls. This one's for you!

Adapted from my mom's stuffed Hubbard squash recipe debuted Thanksgiving 2010 and adamantly requested every Thanksgiving since.

Many of the vegetables listed are great storage fare and can be purchased weeks in advance [like now!]. Other's, like Brussels sprouts, get sweeter after the first freeze and, if available, can mostly likely be purchased the week of Thanksgiving. If you plan to make this for Thanksgiving day, I recommend chopping everything the day before and storing in glass containers in the refrigerator. This alleviates much of the "day-of" work and allows you to focus on other, more pressing items.

If you have the space in your oven, arrange the cooking racks so there is one close to the bottom, one in the middle and one near the top. Use the convect cooking option if available. This way you can cook everything at the same time.

1 small Golden Hubbard squash [or any winter squash you prefer]
2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 tsp sea salt, divided
freshly ground pepper

Cut squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Reserve seeds to make roasted pumpkin / squash seeds. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place 1 tsp. of olive oil in each half and, using your hands, rub along bottom and sides. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp. in each squash and grind about a 1/4 tsp. of pepper in each. Flip so flesh side of the squash halves are facing down and place on a parchment paper-lined baking pan. Place in oven and bake at 375 degrees for 60 minutes.

3 potatoes [I like using one of each red, yellow, purple], peels on*, cut into small chunks
1 beet, peel on*, cut into small chunks
1 stalk Brussels sprouts, sprouts removed and washed [you can save the stalk, peel, and cut into chunks and roast or compost], cut sprouts in half
1 leek, whites and light green, thinly sliced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
large handful green beans, cut into 1/2-inch pieces [choose fresh or frozen depending on what you can find locally]
1 large fennel bulb, fronds and stems removed, thinly sliced
1 - 2 carrots, peels on*, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
small handful of fresh sage, ground
1 small branch fresh rosemary leaves, stem removed and leaves ground
1 T nutritional yeast
2 tsp sea salt, divided
freshly ground pepper
2 - 3 T extra virgin olive oil

Optional veggie additions: rutabaga, shitake mushrooms, parsnips, kale, sweet potato

*If your vegetables are organic you can simply scrub the peels and leave them on.

While the squash is baking, wash and chop all of the vegetables as noted. On a stone or parchment paper-lined baking pan, toss beets and Brussels sprouts with 1 tsp. of sea salt, a little pepper, half the rosemary and sage, and 1 - 1 1/2 T. olive oil. On a different stone or parchment paper-lined baking pan, combine remaining ingredients and mix well [I use my hands].

Place in the oven with the squash and roast for about 30 minutes or until veggies are soft and the lighter vegetables are just starting to take on a golden brown color.

1/2 c. millet, rinsed and drained
3/4 c. water
1 T extra virgin olive oil

While vegetables and squash are roasting, prepare millet. Using a fine mesh strainer, rinse the millet under cold water until water runs clear [about 30 seconds]. Drain well. Warm olive oil in a medium size pot and, when just hot but not smoking, carefully flip in millet and saute, stirring frequently, for 3 - 5 minutes. The millet should begin to smell nutty. Pour in water, cover, and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and cook covered until no liquid remains and millet is fully cooked.

Once all of the vegetables are roasted and millet is cooked, toss vegetables with millet in a large glass bowl [please use glass or stainless steel rather than plastic as the heat will cause the plastic to leach chemicals into the food].

Fill each of the squash halves with the veggie mix. You'll have extra mix which makes for a great breakfast the next morning!

You can top with chopped toasted walnuts and sea salt and pepper to taste.

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