Don’t Forget the Side Dishes for the Turkey!

Of all the holidays we celebrate, Thanksgiving is the one most defined by food. And, for most of us that food is based on tradition. My own family looks forward to a big bird with crisp golden skin served with rich pan gravy. They know there will be homemade cranberry chutney, and since our family DNA harbors deep Southern roots, cornbread dressing is a must at our table. However, when it comes to the sides—those special recipes that play supporting roles in this holiday menu—my clan is open to new creations. 
I often include new accompaniments like the delectable one featured here. A glorious mélange of the season’s robust vegetables, including butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, brown mushrooms, and leeks, this dish pairs fabulously with the traditional bird and dressing. The vegetables are sautéed, scented with rosemary, then sprinkled with toasted pecans, and Parmesan.

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Tian of Tomatoes and Summer Squash with Basil and Mint

Recently at my local farmers’ market, I was selecting tomatoes when the farmer whispered to me. “Better buy plenty because they’re not going to be around too much longer!”  I didn’t want to hear these words. I was hoping that the luscious red orbs that have been exceptionally sweet this season would last forever, but it was September, and I knew he was right.

I bought a bunch along with that some zucchini and yellow squash to make a Provencal dish I had been working on for the new book I am writing, Sunday Casseroles (it’s due in 2014). I’ve just started to create the recipes for this collection, and am happy to share one here. Continue reading

Asparagus and Mushroom Tarts

These elegant tarts look as if they take far more expertise to produce than the simple effort that is required. Using purchased puff pastry is what makes them so easy and quick to assemble. Count on 15 minutes to make the filling, and five for cutting out the puff pastry squares. Both the squares and the filling can be prepared several hours ahead so that at serving time you will need only to spoon the asparagus/ mushroom melange onto the pastries, and then bake them for 20 minutes. Serve the tarts as a first course or offer then with a green salad for a summer lunch or light supper.

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Gnocchi with Gorgonzola, Walnuts, and Rosemary

Years ago when my husband and I were newly married, we were invited to dinner one night by another young couple, both of whom were Italian. Although the entire meal was delicious, the dish I remember best was their gnocchi made with farina. Gnocchi (Italian for dumplings) can be prepared with potatoes, flour, or farina, and are usually enriched with eggs and cheese. Today, flour-based gnocchi are fashionably popular, but farina ones have long been my favorite. These gnocchi, garnished with crumbled gorgonzola, chopped walnuts, and minced fresh rosemary can be assembled ahead and served as a first course or a side dish.
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