I talk a lot (yes, I hear you) about hosting holiday dinners, especially Thanksgiving. But, I realize a lot of you guys are the “bringers”. You have offered to bring a dish, or asked by your hostess to bring a dish, and don’t want to come empty-handed to the party! It’s hard to bring the traditional sides, because these are steeped in custom. (Heaven help me if I offer hubby a dressing casserole that doesn’t include white raisins!)
I thought I would give you a couple of my untraditional side dishes that are easy to make in advance, bake at the last minute, and that travel well. Here ya go and here’s a visual preview of the wonderfully tasty mess you’ll make:
Stuffed Tomatoes: Cut plum tomatoes horizontally and gently squeeze out some of the seeds. Take a knife and slash a couple of slits into the core of the tomatoes. Place them (slashed side up) into a baking pan, coated with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with seasoned bread crumbs, and top with Gorgonzola cheese crumbles. Bake at 375° until the tomatoes are soft and the cheese is soft and melty, about 25 to 30 minutes. You can prepare these tomatoes the day before. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and roast before you are ready to leave. These are wonderful served at room temperature.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Sriracha Aioli, Fresh Mint and Chopped Peanuts: The most important part of any Brussels Sprouts recipe is to blanch them first. This produces a soft sprout that is moist and flavorful. That said, the best way I’ve found to blanch sprouts is in the microwave. Remove any tough leaves from the outside, cut in half and place into a microwave safe bowl. Add a little water, cover with plastic wrap and microwave for about 4 or 5 minutes. If you have a vegetable setting, you can use this to pre-cook your sprouts. Transfer the sprouts to a baking dish, coated with olive oil. Sprinkle with more olive oil, salt, pepper and grated Parmesan cheese. Bake at 400° until the Brussels are soft and the outer leaves are beginning to char, about 25 to 30 minutes. You can prepare the Brussels Sprouts the day before. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and roast before you are ready to leave. For the sauce, combine ½ cup mayonnaise with 2 minced garlic cloves and 1 to 2 tablespoons sriracha sauce. Place the “aioli” into a squeeze bottle, mince up some fresh mint leaves and chop some roasted peanuts. When the Brussels sprouts come out of the oven, drizzle the sauce over the top and sprinkle with fresh mint and chopped nuts. These too, are wonderful served at room temperature.
Roasted Zucchini with Olives, Capers Parmesan Cheese and Pine Nuts: I hope you are seeing a theme with these veggie dishes! Cut zucchini into 1 ½-inch rounds and place into a baking dish that has been coated with vegetable oil spray. Sprinkle with more olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the zucchini with pitted, chopped Kalamata olives, drained and rinsed capers, grated Parmesan cheese and pine nuts. Bake at 375°until the pine nuts begin to brown, and the zucchini is soft, about 25 to 30 minutes. Yup, these are great at room temperature also!!
And, finally here is an appy recipe that you can make in advance, assemble before you leave your house and place on the table when you get where you are going!
With Home Made Pita wedges and Crudité
Serves a Crowd
30 Minute Cuisine
There’s nothing like a light and healthy appy at the beginning of a calorie laden meal. This hummus is light and airy and has just the right touch of fall pumpkinness to make everyone happy!
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cup pumpkin puree
¼ cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled
Juice of ½ medium lemon, about 1 tablespoon
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon coarse black pepper
For Pita Chips:
4 whole pita chips, cut into wedges (about 32 total)
4 tablespoons butter, melted
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated, about ½ cup
Petite green beans
Bell peppers, sliced into strips
Place the chickpeas, pumpkin puree, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, thyme and paprika into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to form a smooth paste. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the pumpkin hummus into a bowl.
Preheat the oven to 375°. Place the pita wedges onto a baking sheet. Brush with butter and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake until the tops of the pitas are golden, about 5 to 7 minutes.
Serve the hummus with warm pita wedges and crudité.