A Soggy Thanksgiving

Slim Yet Sumptuous Holiday Feasts

This year, instead of snow, Thanksgiving week featured lengthy power outages and heavy rains that flooded the garage, and for the first time, the basement. Dang! Happily, we found the leakage early and my lovely housemates filled a bucket with runoff before getting it dried out. We all spent a lovely rainy afternoon with pickaxe and shovel enlarging our curtain drain, which had clogged somewhere along the line causing the unfortunate overflow.

We all like playing with water, even in the rain, so that part was rather merry. The next step was to create a marvelous meal together. We also all prefer to eat lovely food that does not make us feel ill afterward. Thus, we made dishes that were extraordinary without unwholesome excess.

Start With The Starters

To slim down traditional holiday foods, we swapped out fatty appetizers for creamy Italian bean dip and pear slices and a lush mushroom tart. Our meal began with a sparkling salad of Honeycrisp apples and shredded turnips, dressed with a citrusy vinaigrette. Instead of overcooked vegetable casseroles, we enjoyed lightly steamed green beans topped with toasted hazelnuts, lemon rind, and roasted garlic “butter.” We roast halved onions with the turkey to make gluten-free gravy, and mixed our mashed potatoes with Greek yogurt, sea salt, and fresh chives. Subtly sweetened cranberry-orange relish made a delightful counterpoint to all the richness, adding phytonutrients galore. Result? A meal to savor and fully enjoy with a discerning palate and a clear conscience!

Creamy Italian White Bean Spread

1-3/4 cups cooked Cannelloni beans
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 organic lemon, juiced, rind grated
1/2 teaspoon rosemary, stemmed
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

In a food processor, combine beans, garlic, lemon rind, rosemary, salt, and pepper and puree to a fairly smooth paste. Open feed tube and add oil while processor is running. Add lemon juice to taste, starting with 1 tablespoon. Makes about 1-1/2 cups. Refrigerate leftovers, but serve at room temperature.

A Lovely Tart Treat

We had lots of local, apricot-scented chanterelles to play with, but you can use any favorite mushrooms in this savory entree.

Mushroom Tart

1 pie crust
4 ounces gruyere cheese, thinly sliced
1 red onion, sliced in wheels
6 ounces chanterelle mushrooms, sliced
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line pie dish with crust, crimp edges. Line crust with cheese slices, then layer in onions and mushrooms. Sprinkle with salt and paprika, dot with butter and bake until crust is golden (35-40 minutes). Serves 4-6.

Holiday Super Salad

2 cups small turnips, finely chopped
2 cups Napa cabbage, finely shredded
1 cup Florence fennel, finely chopped
2 Honeycrisp apples, finely diced
1/2 cup Italian parsley or cilantro, stemmed
1/4 cup balsamic vinaigrette

Toss all ingredients and serve. Serves 4-6.

Raw Cranberry Orange Relish

2 cups cranberries, washed and picked over
1 organic orange, quartered
1-2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon shoyu or soy sauce

In a food processor, combine cranberries and orange wedges and grind to a fine slurry. Season to taste with maple syrup and soy sauce and chill until serving time. Makes about 1-1/2 cups.

Gluten-Free Gravy

Roast onions along with the turkey, then use an immersion blender to create gluten-free gravy with exceptional flavor.

Lemon Rosemary Turkey With Gluten-Free Gravy

1 14-16 pound turkey
1 organic lemon, rind grated, cut in half
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups rosemary sprigs
3 onion, peeled and halved

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Rub turkey with cut lemons. Mix salt with lemon rind, set aside. Loosely stuff turkey with rosemary and lemons and rub skin with salt mixture. Place turkey in roasting pan on rack and place onions underneath bird. Bake breast side up at 425 degrees F for 2 hours or until internal temperature of the leg reaches 170 degrees. When done, remove bird to serving platter, tent with foil and let stand for 30 minutes before serving. While bird rests, remove excess fat from roasting pan with a turkey baster, then puree onions with drippings for gluten-free gravy.

This sumptuous vegan sauce makes an excellent side dish for roasted roots, cooked grains, or mushroom risotto.

Vegan Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Gravy

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon virgin olive oil
2 large onions, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon sugar
4 cups crimini or any mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup red wine or broth

Heat oil and butter in a large frying pan over medium high until foamy. Add onions, sprinkle with sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown (4-6 minutes). Lower heat to low and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly caramelized. Add mushrooms, sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Add wine, reduce heat to low, cover pan and simmer until mushrooms are wilted and reduced in volume (8-10 minutes). Serve hot over rice, baked potatoes, roasted vegetables, chicken or fish. Makes about 2 cups.

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