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Hi again everyone,
With Thanksgiving approaching at a rapid rate, I wanted to share a few of my favorite side dishes for the big day.
But before we start, if anyone is of Italian descent like me, then you know that it takes a while to get to the turkey and the side dishes so no need to worry if you get a late start cooking the turkey…
If you are not of Italian descent, sit down, this will take a few minutes to explain.
Italians have many course around the TURKEY. Because there isn’t a nonna alive that isn’t going to have a pasta course at a holiday, expect pasta.
This is the menu for an Italian /American Thanksgiving.
First is the antipasto tray– cured meats, olives, pickled vegetables, fennel, and a variety of cheese and roasted peppers. Antipasto is one of my personal favorites.
I would always look for the sharp provolone cheese and pickled eggplant.
Followed by the soup – in my case, it was “Uncle Vinny’ soup. I really hope you have a chance to try that soup, it’s a keeper.
Followed by the pasta course – usually lasagna – this is vegetable lasagna with no bechamel.
Followed by a salad -Our salad was a mixed green salad with an orange & cranberry goat cheese, sliced pears, cranberries, and sliced almonds covered in a poppy seed dressing.
(You can slice goat cheese with dental floss if it is too sticky for your knife).
When my grandmother was alive we followed a European tradition in our home and had the salad at the end of every meal. However, I found this hard when you have guests who are not familiar with this tradition and expect their salad at the beginning of the meal, so we changed the order.
NOW THE TURKEY AND SIDES
See how much time you had to get to this point?
The menu is not finished after the turkey. Even though I am concentrating on the side dishes, an Italian / American Thanksgiving keeps going.
For a better understanding of the Thanksgiving I had growing up, I am listing the remainder of the courses.
The turkey and sides are…..
Followed by – fruit, nuts and cheese
Followed by – TAKING A BREAK…..
Taking a break in my house growing up meant that the women cleaned up, small children went to play and the men took a nap. At this point you had to have a break because you ran out of dishes and had to wash them and start over.
Once the break was over, the next course was
Dessert– a variety of pies –pumpkin pie, apple pie, coconut custard pie, mince meat pie and sweet potato pie; just in case you weren’t sure what you were in the mood for. Lots of ice cream and whipped cream along with after dinner drinks. This is when I was allowed to sip amaretto or creme de menthe.
And let us not forget, Italian cookies and pastries with espresso.
I remember the first time my husband came over to my home for Thanksgiving when we were dating; he was in total shock with this meal. We didn’t move for hours and he couldn’t believe more and more courses kept coming out of the kitchen. He expected turkey, gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, apple cider and cranberry sauce. Oh, we had that too plus a little extra. After 30 years, he has adjusted.
This complete meal is followed by feeling so full and bloated, you swear you will never eat so much again- until Christmas Eve that is.
Then it’s the Feast of the Seven Fishes. We’ll discuss that at another time or your head will explode now. Too much to take in at once.
But one thing is for sure, we are all GRATEFUL for this feast and for our family and friends and for being able to share another year together.
Okay, now that you know the menu, let’s get back to my favorite sides….
Of course the star of the day is the TURKEY; but for me it’s more about the side dishes, and there were plenty to choose from. I am not going to list recipes for all of my side dishes because I am sure we make many of the same things, stuffed artichokes, glazed carrots, brussel sprouts, mashed potatoes, stuffed mushrooms, etc… I am just listing a few recipes of my favorites that I wanted to share with you.
First one, my all time FAVORITE side dish is SAGE STUFFING.
Oh, I could just eat stuffing with some gravy and be a happy girl. Although I would have to make a double batch because my son feels the same way I do about this stuffing.
Once I found this recipe, my family insisted that this would be the ONLY stuffing they would ever eat; so delicious. You have to try it.
(You have to make this with corn bread so I will include my recipe for sour cream cornbread.)
8 cups coarse fresh bread crumbs (from a 1-lb white loaf with crust removed)
4 cups coarsely crumbled corn bread
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
2 medium onions, finely chopped (1 1/2 cups)
1 turkey liver or 3 chicken livers (2 to 3 oz total), trimmed and finely chopped
1 cup finely chopped celery
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup turkey giblet stock or low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
Preheat oven to 325°F.
Spread all breadcrumbs in 2 shallow baking pans and bake in upper and lower thirds of oven until dry, about 15 minutes total. Cool crumbs in pans on racks, then transfer white bread and corn bread to a large bowl and stir in parsley, sage, salt, and pepper.
Melt butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, and then add onions and liver and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Add celery and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Transfer to bowl with crumbs and toss well.
Add eggs, stock, and cream and toss well.
Transfer stuffing to a buttered 2 1/2- to 3-quart shallow baking dish. Bake, covered, in middle of oven 30 minutes, then uncover and bake until browned, about 30 minutes more.
• Stuffing can be assembled (but not baked) 2 days ahead and chilled, covered. Bring to room temperature before baking.
Sour Cream Corn Bread
1 Cup All-purpose flour
¾ cup yellow cornmeal
¼ cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1-cup sour cream
¼ cup whole milk or Buttermilk
1 egg (beaten)
2 TBSP melted butter
Preheat oven to 425 degrees
In a bowl, mix 1-cup all-purpose flour, ¾ cup yellow corn meal. ¼ cup sugar, 2 tsp baking powder and ½ tsp each baking soda and salt. Stir in 1 cup sour cream, ¼ cup milk, 1 beaten egg and 2 TBSP melted butter.
Pour into a greased, 8-in square pan. Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes or until a pick inserted in center comes out clean.
Cut in 16 squares. Best served warm.
My next post and side dish will be Sweet Potato Casserole.
Until then, make every day a celebration!
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Once you become a member, you’ll never miss a post…
And please continue to send me your comments, I love hearing from you.
Everything looks beautiful!
So funny, I’m italian and my husband is Jewish!
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Same here. Bob is Jewish and I am 100% Italian.
Just love you talking about traditions, brought back so many memories. I have to laugh, I thought only the men in my family took a nap.LOL
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Sue, I am glad that you enjoyed the post. It looks like all the Italian men took a nap during a holiday dinner. We fed them too much. LOL
Have a very Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family
some Italian men do all the cooking….lol….love the corn bread recipe too.
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I love a man that can cook, but back in the day when I was a child, my dad was only at the outside grill. The stove was not his territory. LOL. Bob cooks on occasion and it is a big help.
Try the stuffing one day and the corn bread is a family favorite. Ciao