The most-decadent holiday of the year may have passed us by, but that doesn’t mean we’re nixing comfort foods on these cold, wintry days. Some needs just can’t be put on hold for diets or cleanses, especially when you’re swaddled in sweaters and huddled for warmth. That’s why, this week, FN Dish is adding seasonal winter squash — a most-satisfying, sweet and adaptable piece of produce — to the grocery cart.
At the market, keep your eyes peeled for winter squash varieties like butternut, delicate, acorn, kabocha and spaghetti squashes. Follow FN Dish’s lead and cook up winter squash creations that are inventive, filling and seasonal. Whether it’s your first squash of the season or you already have leftovers in the fridge, these recipes are family favorites in the making.
Before you do anything else, learn how to break kabocha and butternut squashes down with Food Network Magazine. That way, there’s nothing preventing you from making Squash Gratin, a two-squash side that’s nice and velvety under its crispy, cheesy crust.
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A lot of our Thanksgiving traditions come canned — the pumpkin puree for your pie, the start of your favorite cranberry sauce and those curly fried onions for your green bean casserole. These time-honored ingredients get this most-anticipated meal on the table year after year. As the holiday draws near, however, give some serious thanks by stocking your table with show-stopping produce-loving sides.
As you start assembling those grocery lists of yours, mix and match these 10 killer dishes — each with a veggie focus — for a Thanksgiving spread your family will reproduce for years to come.
1. Mushrooms: We may eat our mushrooms year-round, but Ina’s Mushroom-Leek Bread Pudding celebrates this ingredient in a preparation reminiscent of classic Thanksgiving stuffing.
2. Squash: Food Network Magazine’s Lemon-Maple Squash are curvy and sophisticated, working as an elegant addition to the other casserole-leaning sides.
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You likely have your Thanksgiving menu set. For all we know, it was set in stone years ago, probably when your all-knowing elders were in charge. The turkey part of Turkey Day is a no-brainer, but the sides are like a puzzle. You’ll serve the usual contenders — fluffy mashed potatoes with a puddle of gravy, Grandma’s sweet potato casserole (marshmallows and all) — but you’ll need something else to balance out all that richness.
This year, as your family gathers around the dinner table for yet another Thanksgiving meal, look to another veggie that’s at the top of every restaurant menu and grocery list: Brussels sprouts. We like ours cooked right — caramelized and tender at every layer. As you draft up your preliminary rounds of potential recipes, keep in-season Brussels sprouts at the top of your list.
Turkey Day is known for chaos. Ease things up and simply drizzle halved sprouts with olive oil for basic Roasted Brussels Sprouts by Food Network Magazine. And with just one small addition, Brussels Sprouts with Bacon take on a smoky saltiness, perfect for the big Thanksgiving meal or any night of the week.
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It’s November, and for all we know, you’re already knee-deep in beef stew, spaghetti and meatballs, and chicken noodle soup. We get it. Fall means comfort: stews so tender the meat is falling off the bone and casseroles so cozy you get knocked into a nap at the last bite.
Here’s the thing: Comfort food doesn’t need to be synonymous with meat. Believe it or not, even the most unassuming veggies have the power to cure us of all our woes. Leave it to cauliflower — and these recipes — to bring you all kinds of comfort this season.
Stir a pot of risotto to sultry completion, this time with roasted cauliflower florets and sliced almonds adding that extra crunch. Food Network Magazine’s Roasted Cauliflower Risotto (pictured above) can work as a rich main dish, or as a smaller side.
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This time of year, there is no more popular or trendy ingredient than pumpkin. It is everywhere you look, from muffins to salads (all those pumpkin spice lattes don’t count, as there’s no actual squash in them, just pie spices). With such ubiquitous distribution comes the inevitable backlash. Some folks are truly dead-tired of all the pumpkin.
Let me take a moment to intervene on behalf of pumpkin (and all the rest of the sweet, orange-fleshed winter squash). I beg you: Don’t dismiss it just because it’s going through a period of oversaturation.
Instead, think of all its virtues. It’s a great source of beta carotene. It’s full of healthy fiber. And with just a little roasting, the flesh becomes intensely sweet and creamy. Truly, what’s not to like?
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For some, the delicate leafy green means quiche, nourishing green smoothies and heaping salads. And for others — we’re lookin’ at you kids — it can be a hard sell, met with wrinkled noses and “No dessert until you eat your spinach!” tantrums. Today, FN Dish is coming up with spinach sides that, believe it or not, can make everyone happy. Cook it into your favorite recipes, saute it on its own, eat it nice and raw — you get the picture. When it wilts into its supple alter ego, all kinds of sides can come to be.
This season, grab baby or big-leaf spinach by the handful, for more reason than the ample health benefits. Whether you disguise spinach or make it the star of your dish, this recipe roundup will give you — and, hey, maybe even the kids — reason to love it.
For those who love the classic composition of Creamed Spinach, Sunny Anderson’s is decadent, creamy and works as a weeknight side or Thanksgiving star. Sandra Lee’s Parmesan Creamed Spinach adds a dose of sharp cheese, as well as a touch of pumpkin pie spice.
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I question my sanity every year I set out to make my first batch of Concord Grape Muffins for the season. It takes a level of patience to stand at the counter and remove the tiny seeds from each grape with the tip of a paring knife. By time the 8 ounces of grapes I need for a dozen of muffins are ready — after 15 to 20 minutes — I’ve either hit a state of nirvana and can imagine myself seeding a few more pounds, or I swear I’m never doing something so silly again.
Then the muffins come out of the oven, bursting with fragrant pockets of Concord grape jelly. That’s exactly what happens to the grapes as they bake. Once I realize that making these muffins is really two recipes in one — homemade muffins and homemade grape jelly — the effort it takes to prep the grapes is well worth the reward. It also saves me from having to spread jelly on a muffin, and that extra 60 seconds means I’m one minute closer to gobbling up seconds.
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I’ve worked from home full time for just over two years now. Other than the inevitable occasional stir-craziness, I love everything about reporting to my little home office each day. Truly the only thing I really struggle with is what to eat for lunch each day.
During the warmer season, it’s easy enough to throw together a salad as my midday meal. Once the days start to cool, however, a giant serving of crunchy greens is the very last thing I want. That’s when I put operation soup into effect.
On Sunday afternoon, I make a pot of soup that I can eat from all week long. Then I can scoop a bowlful out each day at about 1pm. Paired with a few crackers or a piece of toast, it makes lunchtime so much easier.
I like to go for vegetable-based soups for these lunchtime meals because they hold up well during the course of the week. Split peas are good, as are roasted pumpkin with coconut milk soups. Right now, my heart belongs to Fleuri’s Curry Lentil Soup from Rachael Ray. It’s creamy, it keeps like a dream and it’s just perfect for The Weekender.
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If there’s any veggie taken for granted, it is undoubtedly the carrot. It’s not that we don’t eat ‘em. Please, we down carrots by the bagful — so often, in fact, that we might forget the veggie’s possibilities with all of our mindless munching. Here we go beyond the slick, shrunken realm of the baby carrot by zeroing in on bold preparations. These recipes take carrots by their roots, evolving snack time’s favorite veggie by rethinking the many, many forms it can take.
1. Shaved: For a fresh salad that leaves the leaves of lettuce behind, all you need is a vegetable peeler. Food Network Magazine’s Carrot-Cashew Salad shaves and transforms carrots into ribbons of ethereal crunchiness.
2. Pureed: Switch up your little tubs of packaged apple sauce for Tyler Florence’s Carrot, Mango and Apple Puree for Food Network Magazine. Just roast, puree and snack.
3. Pickled: Pickled Dill Carrots by Food Network Magazine inject the root veggies with zesty acidity, perfect for munching right out of the jar.
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My knowledge of chestnuts was rather limited until my husband and I cooked our first Thanksgiving dinner back in 1995. While many people have fond memories of chestnut stuffing on Thanksgiving, my family’s stuffing of choice came out of a box. That changed once Michael and I started celebrating the holiday together.
Every year he’d set about prepping his “kitchen sink stuffing” filled with dried bread cubes, apples, crumbled sausage, celery, carrots and, yes, chopped chestnuts. As time went by, we tweaked the recipe. I taught him how to finely chop the vegetables and properly saute them, so they would almost melt into the stuffing. I began making homemade stock to swap in for the canned kind he used. One year I even managed to convince him to skip the sausage and make a vegetarian version for me. The one ingredient that always stayed in the mix, though, was chestnuts.
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