The holidays can be a very stressful time in some families. It takes a lot of planning and preparation to host a holiday meal. Sometimes in an attempt to put on the “perfect banquet” we lose sight of what the holiday is all about. You don’t need to serve a dozen side dishes and have a buffet table full of desserts. Your family and friends’ gratefulness isn’t contingent upon the bounty, but upon the fact that you are together, or in each other’s thoughts, even if far away.
With that in mind, I’m offering you some recipes for elegant and easy side dishes that will look magnificent alongside a carved turkey but won’t require a ton of work or many ingredients. Make it easy on yourself by prepping the vegetables ahead of time and by setting out the other ingredients, already measured. While your turkey rests or is being carved by a friend, you can put the finishing touches on these delicious side dishes.
Round out your holiday meal by searching for a past issue of BerkshireStyle.com to find my recipe or click here for several different types of stuffing that can be prepared well in advance.
ROASTED CARROTS with a CRUMB TOPPING
I like to use the best whole organic carrots for this recipe. Because of the simple preparation, you want to make sure that the carrots are as flavorful as possible. The carrots cook in a very short time, so you can roast them while you are carving the turkey and your oven is free. I generally plan on having 3 to 4 carrots per person. This recipe makes enough for 4 people, but you can increase the amounts, if necessary. The topping is also delicious when served on carrot soup!
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt & pepper
2/3 cup fresh breadcrumbs (or panko)
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
Take a dozen thin, whole carrots and peel, or scrub, them. If they still have the carrot-tops on, trim to about 1 inch from the top. This will make for a very pretty presentation.
Slice the carrots in half, lengthwise, and toss with 3 tablespoons of olive oil.
Place on a foil-lined baking sheet in a single layer and season with a little salt and freshly ground pepper.
Roast the carrots for about 20 minutes.
In the meantime, melt ¼ cup butter in a small sauté pan. Add 2/3 cup fresh breadcrumbs and 2 teaspoons of caraway seeds, and cook until the breadcrumbs turn golden.
Arrange the carrots all in the same direction on a platter, top with the breadcrumbs, and enjoy!
GREEN BEANS with FRIZZLED SHALLOTS
This is my family’s healthy adaptation of the traditional Green Bean Casserole.
2 pounds green beans (or haricots verts)
4 shallots, sliced into 1/8 inch rings, rings separated
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups vegetable, peanut, or sunflower oil (for frying)
Metal Deep-Fry Spoon (also known as a Chinese Spider)
Trim the stem ends from the beans and boil the beans in a big pot of water until they are crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Drain the beans and run under cold water to stop the cooking and let them retain their bright color. Set the beans aside.
In a deep cast-iron skillet, heat the oil until it shimmers.
In a large bowl, toss the shallot rings with the flour until they are well coated. Shake off the extra flour. Test the heat of the oil by frying a single shallot ring to make sure the temperature of the oil is just right. Remove the shallot by using a metal deep-fry spoon.
In several batches, fry the shallots in the oil until they turn golden, about 2 minutes. Be careful to not let them burn. Transfer the shallots to a paper-towel lined dish.
Pour out the oil, leaving about 2 tablespoons of oil in the skillet. Add the beans into the skillet and quickly stir-fry them on medium-high heat until they are just beginning to brown. Transfer to a serving bowl, top with the “frizzled” shallots and season with a little salt and pepper.
Make sure you have an old jar or old metal coffee can ready to pour in the hot oil after you are done frizzling the shallots!
In a saucepan put
1 cup water
½ cup sugar
A bag of fresh cranberries (picked through to remove any ‘stems’ or squishy/bad ones)
Zest of 1 lemon and the juice of ½ the lemon
Zest of 1 lime and the juice of ½ the lime
Zest of 1 orange and the juice of ½ the orange
½ jar or can of mandarin oranges (you can add more if you’d like)
Cook on LOW heat until the cranberries “pop”
Add a ½ cup of Grand Marnier (or any orange-flavored liquor)
This makes a wonderful holiday gift!
To end, here are a few beautiful thoughts on gratitude I’d like to share with our readers at BerkshireStyle.com…
“Let's be grateful for those who give us happiness; they are the charming gardeners who make our soul bloom.” - Marcel Proust
"At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us." -Albert Schweitzer
"He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has." - Epictetus