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EASY ENTERTAINING: Dressing up Thanksgiving with sides

There is something to be said for spicing up the turkey dinner routine with a few new ideas.
There is something to be said for spicing up the turkey dinner routine with a few new ideas. - 123RF Stock Photo

Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be limited to roast turkey with all the traditional accompaniments. You can reinvigorate the occasion by adding a little gourmet flare to the side dishes.

There’s nothing particularly wrong with the classic mashed potatoes, steamed carrots and cranberry sauce routine, but for anyone that loves to cook like I do, there is something to be said for spicing up the turkey dinner routine with a few new ideas.

Arugula, dried cranberries, toasted walnuts, crumbled feta, cranberry vinaigrette

6 servings

  • 1/4 cup sherry vinegar
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp cranberry juice
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 8 to 10 cups Argugula
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup feta, crumbled

Directions: Combine the first five ingredients in a bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Place arugula in a bowl. Season greens with salt and pepper. Add a cup of the vinaigrette to the greens and toss. Add the walnuts and dried cranberries and toss. Top with crumbled feta.

Roasted carrots with honey and anise

Serves 6

  • 2 lbs tri-colour carrots, peeled, sliced lengthwise
  • 4 star anise pods*
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 sprigs thyme, leaves removed

Directions: Place carrots in a roasting dish with anise. Drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast in oven preheated to 400 °F, turning occasionally. Roast for 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven, and then drizzle with melted butter and honey. Return to oven for a couple minutes to give a little caramelization. Finish by sprinkling with thyme.

*If you can’t find star anise, substitute with a couple sticks of cinnamon.

Roasted brussels sprouts with pancetta

Serves 6

  • 2 lbs brussel sprouts, outer leaves removed, trimmed, halved
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups pancetta, cubed
  • 1 lemon, zest, juice

Directions: Preheat the oven to 400°F. Toss brusel sprouts with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place cut side down on a large baking sheet. Roast 15 minutes then flip. Continue to roast until well browned and tender but not soft. Sauté pancetta in a pan set over medium-heat until crispy. Add pancetta to sprouts. Add lemon zest and lemon juice. Toss to mix.

Cipollini onions with sage

Serves 6

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb Cipollini onions, peeled
  • 3 oz white wine
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp fresh sage, minced

Directions: Place sauté pan over medium heat. Heat the olive oil then add the onions and brown on all sides. Add the sage and white wine. Cover and cook for 30 minutes. Add water as necessary to keep onions from sticking to pan. When onions are soft and cooked through, finish with butter and sage.

Mark DeWolf is Nova Scotia’s most recognized sommelier and an honours graduate of the International Sommelier Guild (ISG). He has worked with some of the country’s finest chefs, gaining an expertise in food and recipe development.

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