Week 25: Show-Stealing Sides for Holidays and Beyond
Fall is just flying by! We are past the first frost and you are likely planning upcoming holiday festivities to closeout the year. Your Thanksgiving meal is always a perfect time to show off all of the fresh, colorful, flavor-packed produce from Moutoux Orchard. Without further ado, here are Show-Stealing Sides for all of your holiday needs.
ROASTED CABBAGE WITH WALNUTS AND PARMESAN
1 medium-large (1 3/4 pounds) or two small heads savoy cabbage
7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
Scant 1/2 cup walnut halves and pieces
1 large or 2 smaller garlic cloves
1 large lemon
Red pepper flakes, such as Aleppo (optional)
Grated Parmesan, to taste
Heat oven to 475°F. Remove any damaged outer leaves of cabbage and cut it 8 (for small ones) to 12 (for a large one) wedges. Coat a large baking sheet with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Arrange cabbage wedges in one layer, drizzling or brushing them with 2 more tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Roast for 8 to 10 minutes, until charred underneath (don’t panic if you see a few thin black edges; they’re going to taste amazing). Use a spatula to flip each piece over and roast for 5 more minutes, until the edges of the cabbage are dark brown.
Meanwhile, while cabbage roasts, place nuts on a smaller tray or baking dish and roast them next to the cabbage for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove and scatter them, still hot, onto a cutting board and coarsely chop them. Scoop into a bowl and finely grate the zest of half a lemon and all of the garlic over it. Add remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil to walnuts, a few pinches of salt and red pepper flakes and stir to combine. If you’ve got a couple minutes to let it all infuse as it cools, let it rest. When ready, squeeze the juice of half your lemon in and stir to combine. Adjust flavors to taste, adding more lemon if needed; you want this dressing to be robust.
The moment the cabbage comes out of the oven, spoon the walnut dressing over the wedges. Grate Parmesan all over, to taste. Serve immediately, while piping hot. There will be no leftovers.
Notes: Serves 2-4. Don’t use too big a cabbage, go with two small rather than one giant one, if you have options.
CRISPY SWEET POTATO ROAST
3 tablespoons salted or unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons olive oil
Coarse salt and black pepper or red pepper flakes to taste
5-6 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced thin
1 small onion, peeled and sliced thin
Heat oven to 375°F. Heat butter and oil together until butter has melted. Pour 2 tablespoons of the mixture in the bottom of a 2-quart baking dish. (Shown is 9.5-by-12-inches, if that helps.) Sprinkle butter/oil puddle with some salt and pepper. Arrange your potato slices vertically in the dish. Add a sliver of onion between every few slices of potato, if desired. Brush tops of potatoes with remaining butter/oil and season generously with more salt and pepper. Cover dish with foil and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until potatoes are tender and almost fully cooked. Increase oven heat to 450°F, remove foil and let roast another 10 to 20 minutes, until tops of potatoes are nicely browned.
If you’d like to finish this with the Thanksgiving Salsa Verde shown here, or at least serve it on the side, place 1 scant cup of parsley leaves, 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, 1 generous teaspoon of fresh thyme and sage leaves, 1 small garlic clove, the zest of 1/2 a lemon and 2 teaspoons capers (rinsed and drained if salted) in a food processor or blender and blend until finely chopped. Drizzle in 7 tablespoons olive oil with the machine running, or enough the mixture is loose and somewhat pourable. Season well with salt and pepper flakes.
Notes: Thicker-sliced potatoes could take up to 15 minutes longer. You can absolutely make this ahead of time. It will warm well wherever you go. It can be made up to two days in advance, and still taste as good as day one.
KALE AND CARAMELIZED ONION STUFFING
1 1/4-pound (20 ounce) round of sourdough or dense country-style white bread
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
3 medium onions, thinly sliced in half-moons
1/2 teaspoon sugar or honey
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 pound (large bundle) curly kale, center ribs and stems removed, chopped or torn into large chunks
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups vegetable, chicken or turkey broth, divided
Red pepper flakes, to taste
2 tablespoons sherry
Heat oven to 400°F. Slice crusts off bread (you can save them for breadcrumbs) and tear loaf into rough 1-inch pieces. Place in a large bowl and drizzle with 4 tablespoons olive oil and toss well. Spread on a large rimmed baking sheet and toast in oven, tossing once or twice for even color, until golden brown and crisp on the outside but still a little tender inside, about 20 minutes. Let cool on sheet, then tip back into that large bowl.
Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon butter in 2 tablespoons oil in the bottom of a large saute pan over low heat. Add the onions, toss to coat them in oil and cover the pan and with the stove on the lowest heat possible, let them cook undisturbed for 15 minutes. (The steaming and wilting will help them caramelize much faster, yay.) Remove lid, raise heat to medium/medium-high, add sugar and 1 teaspoon salt and cook onions, stirring frequently, for another 15 to 20 minutes, until they’re a deep golden brown. Add 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar and use to scrape any stuck bits off bottom of pan, then cook off. Taste onions. If desired, add a second tablespoon of sherry vinegar and cook off in the same method. (I prefer them with 2 tablespoons.) Add onions to bowl with croutons.
Add 2 more tablespoons olive oil to pan and heat garlic for half a minute, before adding kale. Get kale coated with garlicky oil, then add 2 tablespoons broth. Cook kale until wilted and somewhat tender, seasoning well with salt and pepper, about 6 minutes. Add sherry to pan and cook until it almost disappears. Add remaining broth and last two tablespoons of butter and bring mixture to a simmer.
Pour kale-broth mixture over croutons and caramelized onions. Toss well to combine. Pour mixture into a 3-quart casserole dish and cover with foil. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove foil, and bake for another 15 to 20, until golden and crisp on top.
Prep ahead: Each part of this (the croutons, the onions and the kale) can prepared up to 3 days in advance, and assembled and baked when needed. Keep the croutons at room temperature in a container or bag. Keep the onions in the fridge, as well as the kale and broth mixture.
Notes: Serves 8. Technically, this is dressing. Stuffing is cooked inside the bird, dressing, on the outside.
DROP CORNBREAD BISCUITS
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup cornmeal
1 to 2 tablespoons granulated sugar (use 1 for a more savory biscuit)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
1/2 cup cold butter, in cubes
1 cup cold buttermilk
Heat oven to 450°F. I covered my baking sheet with parchment paper but it shouldn’t be strictly necessary, and many shouldn’t go in this hot of an oven, so use your own discretion.
Stir flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bottom of a large bowl with a fork or whisk. Add butter and toss to coat cubes in dry mixture. Use your finger or a pastry blender to break the butter into smaller and smaller bits, until the largest is pea-sized. Add buttermilk and stir once or twice, until a dough comes together.
My very scientific method of dividing the dough evenly is to press it gently into the bottom of your mixing bowl into roughly a circle. Cut into 8 or 12 wedges. Pull out one triangle of dough with a soup spoon for each biscuit, pressing it into a craggy, messy ball, then drop it onto your baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough.
Bake for 12 to 14 or 15 minutes; smaller ones should be done at 12 minutes, larger ones at 14 or 15 minutes. Remove from oven and serve warm. Biscuits are best on the first day. On the second, gently rewarming them will improve the texture.
Notes: Makes 8 large biscuits or 12 small ones.
SPINACH SALAD WITH WARM BACON VINAIGRETTE
4 ounces spinach, roughly chopped if needed
2 large white mushrooms, thinly sliced (optional)
1/4 small or medium onion, very thinly sliced
1 large egg, hard-boiled, chilled, peeled and thinly sliced
4 pieces sliced bacon (about 4 ounces), finely diced
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon honey or sugar
1/2 teaspoon smooth Dijon mustard
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Place spinach in a large, wide salad serving bowl. Scatter with mushrooms, onion and coins of hard-boiled egg. In a large skillet, fry bacon bits over medium-high heat until they’re brown and crisp and have rendered their fat. Use a slotted spoon to scoop them out of the skillet and spread them on a piece of paper towel briefly before sprinkling them over the salad. Pour out all but two tablespoons of hot bacon fat from the skillet. Reheat over medium and quickly whisk in the red wine vinegar, honey and Dijon. Pour over entire salad and season salt and pepper. Toss gently and serve hot.
Notes: Serves 4. If you’re freaked out by raw onion, you can actually add it to the dressing in the skillet for the last 10 seconds to soften it and remove more of the bite, and pour the onions and dressing over the salad together.
HASSELBACK BUTTERNUT SQUASH
2 small to medium butternut squash
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt and black pepper
1 stick (8 tablespoons) salted butter, at room temperature
3 tablespoons maple syrup
2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage + 8 sage leaves
1 cup finely torn ciabatta bread
3 ounces prosciutto
Preheat the oven to 425 F. Halve the squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds with a large spoon. Using a peeler, remove the skin. Rub with 2 tablespoons olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Place on a large baking sheet and roast until the squash begins to soften, 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together the butter, maple syrup, and chopped sage until combined.
Grab the squash from the oven and transfer to a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, slice through the rounded sides of squash halves, crosswise, going as deep as possible but without cutting all the way through. Return the squash to the baking sheet, scored sides up. Spread half the maple butter over the squash, allowing it to drip into the slices. Season with salt and pepper.
Roast the squash for 30 minutes, then spread with the remaining maple butter, spooning any melted butter in the pan over the squash. Return to the oven and roast another 15-20 minutes, until the squash is tender.
At the same time, toss together the bread, 2 tablespoons olive oil, the sage leaves, and a pinch of salt and pepper on a separate baking sheet. Lay the prosciutto around the bread. Transfer to the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes or until toasted. Crumble the prosciutto into fine crumbs or pulse the mix in a food processor.
Remove the squash from the oven and transfer to a serving plate. Drizzle over any maple butter left on the pan. Top with breadcrumbs and sage. Serve warm!
Notes: Serves 8. To make ahead, roast the butternut squash through step 4, but only roast 30 minutes. Remove the squash from the oven and let cool. Then keep in the fridge for 1-2 days. To finish roasting, remove the squash from the fridge while you preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Spread the squash with butter and finish roasting, another 20 minutes or so. The breadcrumbs can be made fully ahead and kept in an airtight container for up to 4 days.