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Liven Up Your Thanksgiving Sides with a Farmers Market Twist

Sure, turkey gets all the credit on Thanksgiving, but the Coronado farmers market can help make three of your side dishes shine.

 

Thanksgiving is all about the turkey—brining, basting, baking, etc. It’s the centerpiece of the meal and the item that everyone drools over. It also is a staple in the days after Thanksgiving, as it becomes sandwiches, soups, salads and more.

I thought I’d give you three recipes for some traditional Thanksgiving side dishes, but add a farmers market twist. The small changes will wow your holiday guests and are easy to access. All you have to do is visit the market tomorrow and pick a few things up.

If you’ve got some frantic shopping to do, take a ’s Thanksgiving Fresh From the Farmers Market column. I found a long list of last-minute Thanksgiving finds to take some of the shopping stress off your shoulders.

Here are my three side dish recipes. Enjoy and have a wonderful, tasty, Thanksgiving!

The Perfect Mashed Potatoes

Farmers Market Twist:

I have a love that runs pretty deep with Spring Hill Cheese’s garlic quark. I’ve and for good reason—it’s extremely flavorful, creamy, light and healthy. It’s a great alternative to sour cream, which helps gives mashed potatoes that creamy richness.

This recipe is best done in a stand-up mixer (), but it can be done with a hand masher for lumpier potatoes or a hand mixer.

What You Need

  • 2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cubed into 1-inch pieces
  • ½ stick of Spring Hill Cheese butter, softened
  • ¾ cup whipping cream, warmed in microwave for 30 seconds
  • 2 dollops of Spring Hill Garlic Quark
  • Salt and pepper

What You Do

  1. Put the cubed potatoes in a large pot and cover with an inch of cold water. Add some kosher salt to the water (I usually add a small palmful).
  2. Boil the potatoes on medium-high until they are fork tender, about 20 minutes.
  3. Drain the potatoes and return them to the pot, covering with a lid and setting the heat to low for five minutes (Don’t skip this step! It’s very important to get all the moisture out of those potatoes—this will make them very creamy.)
  4. In a stand-up mixer, place the butter on the bottom of the bowl. Dump the steamed potatoes over the butter and add salt and pepper. Whip on low with the paddle attachment until combined.
  5. Add the dollops of garlic quark and whip again on low.
  6. While the garlic quark is being incorporated, slowly stream in the cream, stopping occasionally to scrape down the paddle attachment and the sides of the bowl.
  7. Whip until creamy (Don’t overwhip! This will make the potatoes gluey. Stop mixing as soon as they are creamy.)
  8. Season to taste

Tips and Variations

  • Don’t be afraid with your seasonings when it comes to potatoes. They’re pretty bland, so be heavy handed with the salt and pepper.
  • Fold in some freshly-grated parmesan at the very end.
  • Fold in some blue cheese at the very end.
  • Mix in some chives, parsley or dill from Maciel Family Farms.
  • Use buttermilk instead of cream.
  • If you’re not a big garlic fan, substitute Spring Hill’s plain quark.

 

Dressing

Farmers Market Twist:

I talked about persimmons last year and used them as a . This year, I’m encouraging you to take the savory route and using the rare fruit in your dressing in lieu of apples. The texture is similar enough that it won’t throw off the balance of the traditional side dish but the flavor profile will be slightly tweaked—for the good!

I also suggest using some market kale as an added twist to the classic recipe.

What You Need

  • 16 cups of ½-inch cubes of sourdough bread (or your favorite bread to use)
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 cups celery, diced
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh sage, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh thyme, minced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 cups of your favorite chicken or turkey broth
  • 1 bunch of kale, chopped and blanched
  • 3 Fuyu persimmons, cut into chunks and sautéed in butter

Optional

  • Bacon (Brandt beef bacon!), chopped and cooked
  • Sausage
  • Toasted nuts, like pine nuts or Hopkins Ag almonds.

What You Do

  1. Toast your bread cubes on a dry baking sheet in a 300-degree oven for 15-20 minutes, or until golden.
  2. Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat and cook the onions, celery, sage, thyme and salt and pepper until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the broth to the skillet mixtures and bring to a simmer, then remove from heat.
  4. In a buttered 3- or 4-quart baking dish, add the skillet mixture with the bread, kale and persimmons (and any optional items). Mix well to combine.
  5. Dot the top of the mixture with some butter and cover with foil, baking at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.
  6. Uncover the dish and bake until golden, about 20 more minutes.

Tips and Variations

  • Chefs are known for discouraging stuffing the bird—the temp of the stuffing needs to be at 165 degrees and causing the bird to cook that long so that the stuffing is safe to eat, usually dries out Mr. Gobble. Cook your dressing separately and then stuff the bird with it (after the turkey has rested) if you want to have a traditional presentation.
  • Make sure you get Fuyu persimmons, not Hachiya. Hachiya have a pudding texture while Fuyus are crisp and juicy like apples.
  • Add cheese. Stop by Spring Hill tomorrow and pick up a good melting cheese from the stand to add to the mix. Spice things up with their firehouse cheddar.
  • Skip the kale and use some butternut squash from the market. Maciel Family Farms sells the perfect portion squash.
  • Try out from Matt Fink instead of sage and thyme. Reach for the rosemary instead.

 

Green Beans

Farmers Market Twist:

Say “so long” to heavy, creamy green-bean casseroles this year. Instead, pick up some fresh green beans at the market and a special bacon and let your mouth dance with flavor happiness.

What You Need

  • 2 ½ pounds market green beans, trimmed
  • Kosher salt
  • ½ pound Brandt beef bacon, chopped
  • 3 shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 gloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup Hopkins Ag almonds, chopped and toasted (you can buy them already roasted)
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Pepper

What You Do

  1. Toss the green beans in a large pot of boiling water (salt the water!) and cook until bright green and tender-crisp, about 5 minutes.
  2. Shock the green beans in a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain the beans and pat dry.
  3. Cook the beef bacon in a heavy pan until crisp. Drain off the excess bacon grease, leaving about 2 Tbsp. in the pan.
  4. Add the shallots to the pan and sauté for about 5 minutes. Sprinkle in pepper flakes and sauté for about 1 minute more.
  5. Add the green beans and almonds and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes.
  6. Place the cooked bacon back in the pan with the green beans and squeeze lemon juice over the beans.
  7. Toss and season with salt and pepper.

Tips and Variations

  • Shocking vegetables is important. If you don't shock the green beans, they lose their bright green color and take on a more browned color and become limp.
  • Use one sweet onion instead of shallots.
  • Use pecans instead of almonds.
  • Add some smoked paprika for a completely different flavor.
  • Throw in some fresh herbs, like a pinch of dill.

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