Wednesday, October 20, 2010

It's not too early to start planning your TG menu

Whether you're cooking for a crowd or bringing a dish to someone else's house, finding great Thanksgiving recipes is no easy task.

But my goal for TG dinner is not really different from how I try to eat all the time: make it yummy and healthy, too. The big difference, of course, is that on Thanksgiving we're going to eat way more than usual. I think that makes it more important than ever to apply healthy-foodie principles (tasty AND healthful) to what we cook and serve on that 4,000-calorie day.
In other words, I try to keep it to maybe 2,500 hundred cals -- ha, ha.

I made this delicious stuffing/dressing last holiday season and it was a huge hit among all who tried it. New fave!
The butternut squash adds a toothsome texture (just be sure not to cook it too much before adding to the other ingredients), a pretty color, as well as vitamins, beta carotene and fiber to a traditional bread stuffing or dressing. (Southerners tend to call it dressing because you don't "stuff" it into the bird.) Dried fruit and chopped nuts make it even tastier.

This side dish for your holiday feast will also make a nifty main course for a vegetarian TG, should you be so inclined--or should there be a vegetarian or two on your guest list who will pass on turkey.

Recipe: Butternut Squash, Fruit and Nut Dressing

(Serves 8)


2 1/2 cups butternut squash cut into one to 1 ½- inch cubes Note: many supermarkets carry peeled and seeded butternut squash, refrigerated, in the produce section

5 cups whole-grain bread cubes (from 4 large slices of bread). Note: Bread should either be toasted before you cut into cubes or left out overnight so that it’s “stale.” If you have actual stale whole-grain bread, use that.

2 T canola oil

½ cup chopped celery and/or carrots

½ cup diced onion, leeks or shallots

2 eggs, lightly beaten, or equivalent amount of egg whites or egg substitute

1 cup vegetable or chicken broth

½ teaspoon dried thyme or 1 T fresh thyme

½ cup golden raisins, dried cranberries or a mix of both

½ cup chopped walnuts

Salt and pepper to taste


1. Place the squash in a steamer insert inside a 2-quart saucepan. Add ½ cup water, sprinkle with salt, cover and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and cook until squash is still al dente, about 3-4 minutes depending on thickness of the cubes. Remove from heat and rinse squash under cold running water to stop the cooking. Set aside.

2. Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add vegetables (celery, onions, etc.) to pan and sauté, stirring, until veggies are soft, about 3-4 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes.

3. Combine remaining ingredients (eggs through salt and pepper) with cooled veggies in a large mixing bowl. Add bread and squash; stir well.

4. Turn into an oiled baking dish and bake, uncovered, for 60 minutes in a preheated, 350- degree oven.

5. Let cool slightly before serving.

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