All the Trimmings
An array of seasonal side dishes adds to anyone's holiday entertaining.
Mashed potatoes are a hearty side dish any time of year.
There’s nothing like a wintry blast to make people want to move indoors and eat hearty, warming foods. The season is also a time of feasting with friends and family celebrating the holidays. Early to late fall is the time to look for root vegetables, winter squash, pumpkins, brassicas, dark leafy greens, nuts, apples, pears, persimmons and cranberries at your local farmers’ markets and roadside stands – they can be purchased then and if stored in a root cellar or other cool place, you can eat these hardy vegetables, fruits and nuts through the cold weather into spring. I store my winter veggies and fruits in a cold room in my basement; a cool garage or the crisper drawer in the fridge.
Root vegetables, as well as squash and pumpkins, are a part of my winter repertoire for soups, stews, gratins, side dishes, salads and desserts. My favorite way to prepare any of these vegetables is simply to roast them in the oven with a bit of olive oil, salt and freshly ground pepper. This method showcases their simple, delectable, earthy sweetness. Once roasted, they can be eaten as is, or added to wonderful soups, purees or salads; not to mention used in bread, biscuit, scone and cake batters, pie fillings, puddings or flans.
Look for freshly dug potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips, parsnips, carrots, beets, rutabagas and celery root, and for fall-harvested winter squash and pumpkins as the season progresses. Vegetables should be firm to the touch with no dark or soft spots. Leafy greens like kale, chard, dandelion, cress, collards, beet or turnip greens and spinach should be crisp and vibrant – not limp or wilted. These should be stored in the fridge and used as soon as possible. Seasonal fruits like pears and apples, if firm and free of blemishes, will keep in cold storage for a few months. Cranberries will hold in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator for a few weeks; freeze for longer storage.
Once your bounty is gathered, plan your holiday menu with all the trimmings. The following dishes, otherwise known as the fixings, are tried and true favorites at my family gatherings. Mix and match them as you desire, or make them all! These side dishes are perfect accompaniments to a roast turkey or goose – you can stuff either with the Cornbread Stuffing, or bake it in a dish. Any of these accompaniments would be delicious with baked ham, roast beef or pot roast, or for the vegetarians in your family, I have included a Savory Nut Loaf that can be sliced like a meatloaf and served with the delectable Mushroom Gravy. (Even the most passionate turkey eaters in our family go for the mushroom gravy over the turkey gravy, hands down!)
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