Three Last Minute Dishes for Thanksgiving

This year for many of us, our Thanksgiving tables will be smaller than in the past. With that thought in mind, I’ve searched my files for easy recipes to add to your menu in 2020.  A delicious Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Sage Cream would make a fine opener while Brussels Sprouts, Bacon, and Apples or Oak Leaf Salad and Apple Salad with Cider Honey Vinaigrette could easily be part of your lineup of  side dishes.

The roasted butternut squash soup takes only about 15 minutes to prep. The squash will need 30 minutes of roasting to intensify its flavor. Once roasted it is simmered along with shallots in stock, and finally pureed. Some warm crème fraîche infused with sage makes a delectable addition.

For Brussels sprouts, Bacon and Apple, three unlikely cohorts–assertive sprouts, salty bacon, and sweet apples–combine to form a colorful sautéed dish bursting with flavor. Start-to-finish time is about 35 minutes.

The Oak Leaf and Apple Salad with Honey Cider Vinaigrette, a perfect late fall salad prepared with tender oak leaf lettuce and tart frisée, is the easiest, for no cooking is involved. Add some dried cranberries for a holiday accent, and count on 35 minutes total to assemble this dish.

May you all stay safe and well. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

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Roasted Butternut Squash Soup; Brussels Sprouts, Apples, and Bacon, Oak Leaf and Apple Salad with Honey Vinaigrette

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Sage Cream

4 cups (about 2 lbs) butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch dice (or purchase same quantity of pre-cut squash)
2 tbsp olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup crème fraîche
1 1/2 tsp dried rubbed sage leaves
2 tbsp unsalted butter
3/4 cup chopped shallots
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup grated Gruyère
4 fresh sage sprigs, for garnish, optional

1.Arrange a rack at center position and preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large, heavy baking sheet with foil and spread the cubed squash on it. Drizzle cubes with oil, and season with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Toss cubes to coat well with oil and seasonings.

2.Bake squash, stirring every 10 minutes to prevent sticking, until tender and lightly browned, 30 to 35 minutes. Watch carefully to make certain it does not burn. Remove from oven.

3.Place crème fraîche and sage leaves in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and let stand 10 to 15 minutes while the sage infuses the cream.

4. Heat butter in a large, heavy pan (with a lid) over medium heat. When hot, add shallots and cook, stirring, until softened and translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in the squash, add the broth, and bring mixture to a simmer. Cover and simmer until vegetables are very tender, about 10 minutes. Purée soup in a food processor, blender or food mill, and return to the pot. (Or, use an immersion blender to purée the soup in the pot.)

5. Whisk in 1/2 cup of the crème fraîche. Taste soup and season with additional salt if needed. (Soup can be prepared one day ahead. Cook to this stage, then cool, cover, and refrigerate. Reheat over low heat, stirring. Cover and refrigerate 1/4 cup remaining crème fraîche separately; stir well before using.)

6. Ladle soup into bowls. Sprinkle each serving with Gruyere and a drizzle of the remaining crème fraîche. If desired, garnish each bowl with a sage sprig.  Serves 4

Market note: Crème fraîche, a thick cream used in French cooking, is available in the dairy section of many supermarkets. If you can’t find it, the following recipe works well.

Whisk 1 cup cream and 1/3 cup sour cream together in a medium non-reactive bowl. Let stand at room temperature until thickened, 6 hours or longer. Cover and refrigerate. (Crème fraîche can be stored up to 1 week, covered, in the refrigerator.) Makes about 1 1/3 cups.

Adapted from Soup Nights by Betty Rosbottom (Rizzoli 2016)


Brussels Sprouts, Bacon, and Apples
1 pound Brussels sprouts
Kosher salt
4 to 5 thick  bacon slices (about 4 oz), cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large Golden Delicious apples, peeled, halved, cored, and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 1/2 tablespoons minced flat leaf parsley

1. Cut off and discard the bases from the Brussels sprouts, then halve the sprouts. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the sprouts and 2 teaspoons salt. Cook until the sprouts are tender but not mushy when pierced with a small, sharp knife, for 8 to 10 minutes or longer. (Cooking time can vary depending on the size of the Brussels sprouts.)

2. Strain the sprouts in a colander, then place them (still in the colander) under cold running water until completely cool. Pat them dry and set aside. (Brussels sprouts can be prepared 6 hours ahead; cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before using.)

3. Sauté the bacon in a large, heavy frying pan over medium heat until browned and crisp. Remove it with a slotted spoon to drain on paper towels. Pour off and discard all but 2 teaspoons of the drippings in the pan. Return the pan to medium heat and add the butter. When hot, add the apples and cook, turning often, until softened and just lightly browned, for about 5 minutes. Add the Brussels sprouts and bacon to the frying pan. Stir and cook until all ingredients are heated through, for 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt to taste.

4. Mound the vegetables in a serving bowl and sprinkle with parsley. Serve hot. Serves 4

From Sunday Roasts by Betty Rosbottom (Chronicle Books 2012) Photo by Susie Cushner           


Oak Leaf and Apple Salad with Honey Cider Dressing

Honey Cider Vinaigrette
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
Kosher salt
1/3 cup canola oil
1 firm, crisp unpeeled apple (such as Granny Smith), halved, cored, and thinly sliced
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 medium fennel bulb, tough center core removed and discarded, thinly sliced
4 cups oak leaf or red leaf lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces
4 cups frisée or curly endive or other tart greens (see market note)
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp walnuts toasted and coarsely chopped (see cooking tip)
1/4  cup ried cranberries, optional

1. For the vinaigrette, in a medium, nonreactive bowl whisk together honey, vinegar, mustard, and scant 1/2 teaspoon salt until blended. Whisk in oil. (Vinaigrette can be made one day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature, and whisk well before using.)

2. For the salad, add sliced apple, fennel, and onion to a salad bowl and toss with half of the dressing. Marinate 10 minutes. Add the oak leaf and frisée; toss with just enough of the remaining dressing to coat lightly. (You may have some dressing left over.) Season salad with more salt and with a few grinds of black pepper to taste. Sprinkle salad with walnuts, and, if desired, with some dried cranberries. Serves 4 to 6

Market Note: Curly endive is a variety of chicory, which is also sold under the French name "frisée." Frisée has small, pale green lacy leaves and a slightly tart taste. It is milder than other chicories. If frisée is not available you could substitute another mildly bitter lettuce such as escarole or arugula torn into bite-size pieces.

Cooking tip: To toast walnuts, spread nuts on a rimmed baking sheet and place in a preheated 350 degree F oven. Bake until slightly browned and fragrant, about 8 minutes. Watch carefully so they do not burn. Cool, then coarsely chop the nuts.

Adapted from Soup Nights by Betty Rosbottom (Rizzoli 2016)


2 thoughts on “Three Last Minute Dishes for Thanksgiving

  1. Betty, It’s Cindy Katz (Ericson) and I am so excited that I have come across your website! I loved everyone of these recipes (which should not be a surprise.) Your Cooking School Cookbook is my go to for most everything. I’m still gifting to all of my friends and family at Christmas the Shirley’s Cranberry Chutney. And of course I will forever be grateful that I had the opportunity to assist in many classes at La Belle Pomme.
    I now live in Southern California.
    Please tell me what you are preparing for New Year’s Eve.
    Thank you.

    • Cindy,
      How nice to hear from you and to know that you are still making recipes from my cookbooks! When did you move to California? We live in Massachusetts now and so have gotten used to cold weather and snow in the winter. I think I’m going to make the recipe for tenderloin steaks with Roasted Shallot, Bacon, and Port Wine Sauce which I featured on my blog this past week. We had it for Christmas and it was so easy for two (we did Christmas with our family on Zoom this year!) that I am going to making it again! Happy 2021 to you and your family. May it be healthy and safe for all. Betty

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