Being Thankful & Spaghetti con Tacchino e Broccoli (Spaghetti with Turkey & Broccoli)

Still not sure about one or more dishes for your Thanksgiving feast? Okay then, before you start reading … ..if you are looking for Thanksgiving menus, click here. On the other hand, if you’d rather build your own menu by picking and choosing from a long list of Thanksgiving-friendly recipes, that list is here.

November is a dreary month. Most days dawn cold and rainy – or snowy. However, all is not lost; the month is saved by Thanksgiving. We can take comfort in the knowledge that family and friends will gather together at the end of the month. With a fabulous, harvest feast a few short days away, I can’t help but be a bit reflective. Alright, I admit it; my head is filled with thoughts and images of Thanksgivings past.

Early Thanksgiving dinners were at my grandmothers’ houses. Dressed in our Sunday best, we’d arrive around noontime. As cooks go, Nana Nye was the better of the two but it was hardly a contest. Nana Westland didn’t care one wit. She was more than happy to have Grandpa take us all out for Thanksgiving dinner.

I am thankful for my memories of these two very different women. I count myself lucky and grateful that all four of my grandparents were around throughout my childhood and well into my twenties.

After a couple of disastrous Thanksgivings in noisy, overcrowded restaurants, Mom put her foot down. She announced that she was cooking Thanksgiving dinner. Her mother and mother-in-law could bring a dish if they liked. It would be welcomed but wasn’t necessary. Now, Nana Nye was a staunch supporter of Cape Cod turnip. Unable to imagine a Thanksgiving dinner without it, she always mashed up a batch and brought it along. Since Nana Westland spent as little time as possible in the kitchen, she sent Grandpa to Captain Marden’s to pick up a couple of pounds of shrimp for the cocktail hour.

I am thankful that every year, without fail, Dad will ask if Cape Cod turnip is on the menu. It always makes me laugh. He also brings shrimp. Both are lovely reminders of my two grandmothers.

Like her mother, Mom didn’t really like to cook but she embraced Thanksgiving dinner with enthusiasm. No, she didn’t get all fancy and gourmet. We didn’t have tamarind glazed turkey or roasted carrots drizzled with tahini sauce. Her menu was the epitome of New England cooking.

I am thankful that I grew up with a mother full of good cheer, life and energy. Her exuberance made every holiday special.

Mom’s first Thanksgiving culinary coup left an indelible reminder of her spirited approach to the family feast. Mom chopped up an apple and threw it in the stuffing. As far as she was concerned, it was a culinary miracle and she was absolutely delighted with herself.

I am thankful for all the little things that tie us together as a family – like Mom’s Stuffing with the Apple. Yes, that is what we call it.

As popular as her stuffing was, Mom decided it wasn’t enough. Perhaps she was worried that we’d run out of food because she kept adding dishes. Oyster dressing, creamed onions and pecan pie joined the already groaning table.

I am thankful for Mom’s example of updating and evolving our New England traditions. I am even more thankful that Campbell’s green bean casserole never found its way onto our Thanksgiving table.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and bon appétit!

Spaghetti con Tacchino e Broccoli (Spaghetti with Turkey & Broccoli)
When you can’t eat another turkey sandwich, it’s time for a change of taste. Reinvent your leftover turkey with broccoli and spaghetti tossed with a generous hint of lemon, garlic and red pepper. Enjoy!
Serves 8

About 1 1/2 pounds broccoli, cut in bite-sized florets and pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound spaghetti
1/4 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons anchovy paste
1 teaspoon Italian herbs
1/2 teaspoon or to taste crushed red pepper
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 cups bite-size pieces leftover turkey
1 ounce plus more to pass Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
1 ounce plus more to pass Pecorino Romano cheese, grated

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the pasta and cook according to package directions less about 1 minute. About 5 minutes before the pasta is due to be done, add the broccoli.

While the pasta and broccoli cook, put the wine, olive oil, butter, garlic, anchovy paste, herbs and pepper flakes in a large skillet and, whisking frequently, cook on low. Remove from the heat when the garlic is fragrant and pale brown. Do not overcook. Sprinkle with lemon zest, drizzle with lemon juice and whisk again.

Reserving a little pasta water, drain the spaghetti and broccoli.

Add the pasta, broccoli and turkey to the garlic and toss to combine. Sprinkle with the grated cheeses, stir in a little pasta water and toss again. Cover and cook on medium for 1-2 minutes to combine the flavors.

Transfer to a deep serving platter or individual shallow bowls and serve with more grated cheeses.

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One Year Ago – Kale & Radicchio Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash
Two Years Ago – Homemade Butternut Squash Ravioli with Browned Butter
Three Years Ago – Thanksgiving Leftovers
Four Years Ago – Cranberry Clafoutis
Five Years Ago – Black Friday Enchiladas (Enchiladas with Turkey & Black Beans)
Six Years Ago – Snowy Pecan Balls
Seven Years Ago – Chocolate Truffles
Eight Years Ago – Smoked Salmon Mousse
Nine Years Ago – Roasted Beans
Ten Years Ago – Winter Soup with Pasta, Beans & Greens

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

How do you use up those yummy Thanksgiving leftovers? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2018

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Thanksgiving – Still a Marathon & Roasted Sweet Dumpling Squash

Before you start reading …
..if you are looking for Thanksgiving menus, click here. On the other hand, if you’d rather build your own menu by picking and choosing from a long list of Thanksgiving-friendly recipes, that list is here.

Recently a friend reminded me of a piece of advice she’d once received from a food writer. She noted that the timing had been uncanny. In the run up to Thanksgiving, her guest list kept growing. From six to nine and then another four and another two. There seemed to be no end to hungry friends and family looking for a spot to land. If you haven’t guessed already, the food writer was me. The advice? Thanksgiving is not a sprint; it’s a marathon.

I developed this philosophy ages ago. Over the years, I’ve thrown a bunch of Thanksgiving dinners. At least a handful of times, I was both surprised and pleased that every single invitation was accepted – and then some. No one had a conflict, another commitment or somewhere else to be. Not only that, they all seemed to have a brother or cousin or old family friend in town.

Cooking dinner for twenty in a tiny kitchen, leaves you with two choices. Freak out or pace yourself. I chose to pace myself. Over the years, I moved to bigger digs with better kitchens but I still paced myself. Now, I have my beautiful dream kitchen and, yes, I still pace myself.

It all comes down to a realistic menu and comprehensive shopping and to-do lists. And by comprehensive, I mean absolutely everything. Yes, set aside a time to set the table. Yes, include the obvious on your shopping list. If you’re like me, you can forget to buy milk if it’s not on the list. So, unless you have a crush on the produce guy and want go back time and time again – write it down.

By the way, you’ll need two shopping lists, one for each trip. That’s right, two shopping trips. Make the first one in the next few days. That’s when you buy anything with a long or long-ish sell-by date like flour, hardy vegetables and wine. A day or two before Thanksgiving, do a quick fly-by for the turkey, perishables and whatever you forgot on the first go-round.

As for that to-do list, be sure to be realistic with timing and deadlines. Once you map everything out, the reality of the space-time continuum will be clear. Sorry, no matter how good you are at multi-tasking, you can’t singlehandedly run the local 5K Turkey Trot, set the table, bake three pies, peel the potatoes and make the stuffing between seven and ten on Thanksgiving morning.

Anything you can do ahead – do ahead – way, way, way ahead. If you can freeze it, cook it now. Not to brag but I whipped up my family’s favorite Butternut Squash Soup last weekend. Five quarts are ready to go in the freezer. Set the table on the Sunday. Make the cranberry sauce on Monday. If you are making a veggie casserole or two, get them done on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Don’t hesitate to ask for help. If your brother loves to smash potatoes, let him have at it. He can peel them too. If your neighbor is famous for her apple pie, invite her to bring one along. She’ll be flattered. Thanksgiving is all about sharing. Sharing a meal and sharing at least some of the joy of cooking it.

Revise your plan if the situation changes. Wait a minute, make that when the situation changes. Have you ever known a Thanksgiving to go without a hitch? The dog will steal the turkey. The supermarket will run out of butternut squash or cranberries or whatever. Your uncle’s car will break down and he’ll need a lift. Out of blue, a long-lost cousin will show up on your doorstep. Meanwhile, your niece’s kids will get the flu and they’ll cancel at the last minute. You’ll break your ankle. (I’ve got that one covered – did it a few weeks ago.) It will snow and the power will go out … or something like that.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and bon appétit!

Roasted Sweet Dumpling Squash & Onion
A quick and easy squash recipe to add to your Thanksgiving repertoire and beyond. Enjoy!
Serves 8

About 3 pounds Sweet Dumpling Squash, halved, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch wedges
2 medium red onions, halved and cut into 1/2-inch wedges
1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
1 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
Olive oil
Apple cider vinegar

Arrange the racks in the upper and lower third of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees.

Put the rosemary, thyme, salt, pepper and paprika in a small bowl and whisk to combine.

Put the squash in a large bowl, drizzle with enough equal parts olive oil and vinegar to lightly coat and toss. Sprinkle with half of the herb-spice mix and toss again.

Spread the squash in a single layer onto rimmed baking sheets. Roast the squash for about 15 minutes at 425 degrees.

While the squash roasts, put the onion in a large bowl, drizzle with enough equal parts olive oil and vinegar to lightly coat and toss. Sprinkle with the remaining the herb-spice mix and toss again.

Remove the baking sheets from the oven, give the squash a toss and arrange the onion around the squash. Switching pan positions from top to bottom and vice versa, return the vegetables to the oven. Reduce the heat to 375 degrees and roast for 15 minutes or until tender and browned.

Can be prepared in advance, cooled to room temperature, covered and refrigerated. Reheat at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes or until piping hot.

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One Year Ago – Cheesy Pumpkin-Sage Biscuits
Two Years Ago – Butternut Squash Tartlets
Three Years Ago – Lemony Kale & Radicchio Salad
Four Years Ago – Wild Rice & Mushroom Stuffing
Five Years Ago – Sweet Potato & Goat Cheese Crostini
Six Years Ago – Pumpkin Cheesecake
Seven Years Ago – Rustic Apple Croustade
Eight Years Ago – Cranberry Sauce
Nine Years Ago – Decadent Cheesy Potatoes
Ten Years Ago – Broccoli Puree

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

Are you a host or a guest this Thanksgiving? Either way, do you have a plan? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2018

What to Cook this Thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving twelve short days away, it’s time to think about planning your feast. If you’ll be a guest and not a host, you might like to check in with your host. Some expect you to bring a dish. Others like to do more or less everything. I’m a little like that. From the Rosemary Cashews to the Pumpkin Cheesecake, I tend to do it all.

However, that’s going to be a bit tough this year. I broke my ankle in late October and am still hobbling around on crutches. My sister-in-law has volunteered to take over hosting duties. Of course, I will be happy to tote along a dish or two.

Last year, I compiled The Long List. With more than sixty fall recipes, it includes all my Thanksgiving-friendly dishes. While impressive, a list of more than sixty recipes can be daunting. So, I’ve paired it down to a two or three, maybe four, options for each course. Here goes –

Appetizers
If you want to get fancy, by all means bake up a batch of my Butternut Squash Tartlets. (By the way – this would be a nice option to bring along if you are not the host.) Add a super easy appetizer to the mix with my Smoked Salmon Mousse. Cheese lovers will love my Warm Brie with Cranberry Chutney.

Soup or Salad?
I generally go with one or the other. However, for a super special meal, you can have both. (For a continental twist, serve the salad between the main course and dessert.) For salads, consider Roasted Beets with Goat Cheese Salad or Kale & Radicchio Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash. My two favorite soups for Thanksgiving are Roasted Butternut Squash Soup and Wild Mushroom Soup.

Turkey of course
You’ll never find a ham or leg of lamb on my Thanksgiving table. Instead, you can  rest assured that Roast Turkey with  Giblet Gravy will take center stage. In addition, either My Mom’s Stuffing or Wild Rice & Mushroom Stuffing will be in the bird.

The Sides
Then again, for some, the turkey is just an excuse to to bring on your favorite sides. I’m going to suggest you give my Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pearl Onions and/or Roasted Carrots with Pearl Onions a-go this year. For spuds, you might like my Decadent Cheesy Potatoes and/or Savory Smashed Sweet Potatoes. (For marshmallow fans, you will never find a marshmallow studded sweet potato casserole at my house. However, this savory dish is really wonderful.)

A Sweet Finish
My all time, make it once a year favorite Thanksgiving dessert is Pumpkin Cheesecake. When two desserts are in order, I add my Rustic Apple Croustade.
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For the curious, here is my 2017 menu.

Speaking of continental, if your family ts a bit more adventurous than mine – you might want to give my menu for A New Englander’s Thanksgiving on the Swiss French Border a try. This menu is typical of the Thanksgiving feasts I prepared when I lived in Switzerland for almost two decades.

Then again, if you are fan of all things Italian, you might want to experiment with my take on A Rustic Harvest Feast Italian Style.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and bon appétit!

For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!!

What will you be cooking this Thanksgiving? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! © Susan W. Nye, 2018

The Truth about Thanksgiving & Kale & Radicchio Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash

Whether it is your first foray into cooking for the feasts of feasts, you are an old hand or a guest not host this year, there are certain inalienable truths about Thanksgiving. At least, they are true for me.

Truth Number One: You’re going to be a little nervous, maybe a lot nervous. I don’t want to increase your anxiety but Thanksgiving is kind of a big deal. Whether you’ve been doing it for years or not, cooking Thanksgiving dinner has a fair number of moving parts. There will be last minute cancellations, additions and changes. One year, I had to pack up all the food, pots and pans and move the entire feast to my brother’s house. Why? The dog was sick and couldn’t travel.

Don’t worry; you are not alone in your anxiety and it’s easy to conquer. First, you can dial back the menu. No one will notice if you skip the creamed onions. Another possibility, you can give a shout out for help. You never know; your cousin might be delighted to bring the creamed onions. Finally, you can judiciously buy other people’s cooking. Check your local bakery, the farmstand and your favorite caterer or restaurant to see what’s on offer. Even if the pies at the farmstand weren’t baked in your oven, they are homemade. The same goes for biscuits from the bakery and stuffed mushrooms for the gourmet deli.

Truth Number Two: You can leave that baggage at the door. You think yours is special? Forget about it. All families are complicated. However, when push comes to shove, and please no shoving or wrestling in the house, you can behave. Your brother can promise to stop talking politics for a few hours. For your part, you can hold him to it and refuse to take the bait when he wanders into dangerous territory. Your parents can agree to stay mute on your single status and you can put the complaints about your ex on hold. Remember, it’s only one dinner. Talk about the good times. I’m sure your family and friends have a few good memories.

Offer to bring a dish for your son’s vegetarian girlfriend. Yes, we know you don’t really like her but you love your son. Both quinoa and kale make a great peace offering. Alert your hosts of any new (real or imagined) food intolerance but don’t expect them to design the entire menu around you. Remember, there’s another faction within the family who thinks the menu should come straight off of Nana’s recipe cards. The ones she gave your mom in 1973.

Thanksgiving is a celebration. For goodness sake, just eat around your dietary issue or nostalgic yearnings. The Thanksgiving table is loaded with possibilities so don’t expect a whole lot of sympathy. Incidentally, there is no dairy in turkey and no gluten in mashed potatoes. And another thing, if Nana’s butternut squash is not on the table, enjoy the Brussels Sprouts.

Truth Number Three: Thanksgiving is always wonderful. It doesn’t matter how many little mishaps try to thwart you. Don’t worry. Like loaves and fishes, I once fed nineteen people from a eleven and a half pound turkey. Everyone had a last minute friend from out of town to bring along. I could have bought a larger turkey but it would not have fit in my apartment’s pint size oven.

Remember, everyone loves Thanksgiving. Outside it’s dreary and gray. Inside it’s warm and cheery. Family and friend love getting together. Whatever you cook, it will be delicious. Whatever anyone brings will be delicious. The conversation will flow. If things start to get a little unruly or teeter on the edge of civility, just say, “I’m thankful for _________” and fill in the blank. It works like magic.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving with friends and family. Bon appétit!

Kale & Radicchio Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash
Serves 8

About 1 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into bite-sized pieces
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Apple cider vinegar
Olive oil
About 8 ounces baby kale
1/2-1 small head radicchio, cored and cut in thin ribbons
Dijon Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
Pickled Red Onion (recipe follows)
About 2 ounces pecorino Romano cheese
About 1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
About 1/4 cup dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Put the squash on a rimmed baking sheet(s). Sprinkle with thyme, salt and pepper, drizzle with enough vinegar and olive oil lightly coat, toss to combine and spread in a single layer. Roast at 375 degrees for 30 minutes or until lightly browned and tender. Let cool for a few minutes.

Can do ahead. Cover and store in the refrigerator. Serve the squash at room temperature or warm. To reheat – spread the squash on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 5 minutes.

To serve: Toss the kale and radicchio with enough Dijon Vinaigrette to lightly coat. Put the greens on individual plates or a large platter and top with squash and pickled onion. Using a vegetable peeler or a course grater, make pecorino Romano cheese shavings. Sprinkle the salad with the cheese, pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries and serve.

Dijon Vinaigrette
Makes about 1 1/2 cups

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons chopped shallot or red onion
2 tablespoons whole grain Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon or to taste hot pepper sauce
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
About 1 cup or to taste extra virgin olive oil

Put the vinegar, garlic and shallots in a blender, season with salt and pepper and process until the garlic and shallot is finely chopped. Add the mustards, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce and process until smooth. With the motor running, slowly add the olive oil and process until thick and creamy. Transfer the vinaigrette to a storage container with a tight fitting lid.

Let the vinaigrette sit for 30 minutes or more to let the flavors combine. Give the vinaigrette a vigorous shake before using. Cover and store extra vinaigrette in the refrigerator.

Quick Pickled Red Onion
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 red onion, thinly sliced
2-3 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
6 pepper corns
1 bay leaf

Put the sugar, salt and vinegar in Mason jar, let everything sit for a minute or two to dissolve and give it a good shake. Add 1 cup of water and shake again.

Add the onion, garlic, peppercorns and bay leaf. If necessary, add a little more vinegar and water to cover the onion. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to two weeks. Drain before using. Cover and store leftover onion in the refrigerator.

Print-friendly version of this post.

One Year Ago – Homemade Butternut Squash Ravioli with Browned Butter
Two Years Ago – Thanksgiving Leftovers
Three Years Ago – Cranberry Clafoutis
Four Years Ago – Black Friday Enchiladas (Enchiladas with Turkey & Black Beans)
Five Years Ago – Snowy Pecan Balls
Six Years Ago – Chocolate Truffles
Seven Years Ago – Smoked Salmon Mousse
Eight Years Ago – Roasted Beans
Nine Years Ago – Winter Soup with Pasta, Beans & Greens

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What are you serving this Thanksgiving? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2017

What’s Cooking this Thanksgiving? More Holiday Menus

Still not sure what to cook for Thanksgiving? We’re getting close to the final countdown and there isn’t a lot of time left to decide. I’ve got three menus that you might find helpful:

Thanksgiving Dinner at my House

New England Meets France

A Rustic Harvest Feast Italian Style

If you need a dish to bring to a potluck … I’ve put together a list of Thankgiving-ish dishes. Give one or two a try.