Sizzle Simmer Sauté–The Sides Have It : Thanksgiving dishes worthy of a spot at the table

Jennifer Ruple

Here come the holidays! Whether your Thanksgiving includes dining with your kids and spouse, a few folks in your circle, or extended family members, make it a cause for celebration.
Go ahead and set a beautiful table, cook up extra comfort foods, and put on your fancy clothes (if you still have any). Whatever brings you some comfort and happiness, do it! 2020 has been tough; you deserve it.
Following are three of my favorite side dishes that I like to prepare throughout the fall season, especially the salad. I hope you enjoy reading about them and have an extra special Thanksgiving!

Harvest Apple and Cranberry Salad
To balance heavy side dishes, plus save some space in the oven, I like to serve a fresh green salad. I pair this one with a trio of seasonal flavors – sliced apples, dried cranberries and candied pecans. I top it with some tart feta cheese crumbles, or a milder goat cheese if you prefer, and then drizzle it with balsamic glaze and a little extra virgin olive oil.

5 ounces fresh baby spinach
½ cup dried cranberries
1 large apple, sliced
1 teaspoon lemon juice
½ cup candied pecans
½ cup crumbled feta cheese

Balsamic glaze
Extra virgin olive oil
In a large serving bowl, place spinach. Top with cranberries, sliced apples – sprinkled with a little fresh lemon juice, pecans and feta cheese.
Just before serving, drizzle with balsamic glaze and oil.
(Recipe by Jennifer Ruple)

Sweet Potato Soufflé
This Sweet Potato Soufflé is so rich and brown sugary; I’ve gotten comments that it could double as a dessert! I would not go that far, but it’s always a winning side whenever I serve it.
3 cups mashed sweet potatoes
¾ cup sugar
½ cup milk
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup flour
½ cup milk
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup chopped pecans

Heat oven to 350 F.
Cut sweet potatoes into large chunks. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Carefully add sweet potato pieces. Cook until soft, about 20- 25 minutes. Drain and allow to cool for a few minutes.
Remove skins from cooked sweet potatoes. Place potatoes in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix until potatoes begin to break down. Add sugar, milk, butter, eggs and vanilla and mix thoroughly until smooth.
Pour mixture into a 13 x 9 inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.
In a medium bowl, combine topping ingredients. Pour evenly over casserole.
Bake for 30 – 40 minutes.
(Recipe by Jennifer Ruple)

Cornbread Chorizo Dressing
The delicious combination of sweet cornbread and spicy chorizo sausage, along with a crunchy top, makes this stuffing disappear quickly. Created by four-time James Beard winning author, Cheryl Alters Jamison, the recipe appeared in New Mexico Magazine in 2013. I’ve been making it every year since.

¾ pound French bread, torn in bite-size pieces
8 ounces bulk chorizo sausage
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 heaping cups chopped onions or leeks
2 heaping cups celery, thinly sliced
1 – 1½ tablespoons crumbled dried sage
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8-inch-square pan of cornbread (made
from a 15-ounce package of cornbread
mix, if you wish), crumbled coarsely
3 – 4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
4 large eggs
 ½ teaspoon baking powder

Heat oven to 375° F. Place French bread pieces on baking sheet and toast in oven about 10 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp. Set aside to cool, then dump into large bowl.
Butter a 9 x 13 inch baking dish several inches deep.
Over medium heat, sauté chorizo in large skillet, breaking it into small bits with spatula as you cook, until well browned. Drain off and discard excess fat. Add butter to chorizo in same skillet and melt over medium heat. Stir in onions and celery and sauté until very soft, about 7 minutes. Add sage, thyme, salt, and pepper, and scrape into bowl of toasted bread pieces. Add cornbread crumbles. Pour in stock a cup at a time and mix until bread is very moist but not soupy. You will probably use 2 to 3 cups of stock.
Cover and refrigerate dressing until you are ready to proceed with it. (Up to this point, dressing can be made a day ahead.)
Taste and adjust seasoning if you wish, or add a bit more stock if mixture seems dry. Whisk eggs and baking powder together and mix into dressing.
Spoon dressing into baking dish, leaving it somewhat uneven on top, so that it will get extra crunchy in some spots.
Cover and bake 25 minutes. Uncover and continue baking about 20 additional minutes, until lightly browned and crusty on top.
(Recipe adapted from Cheryl Alters Jamison)

Leave a Reply