Thanksgiving is the one holiday of the year where I cook a big feast for the whole family, which can vary from five to twenty people, depending on who is in town. What makes cooking this meal a challenge are the dietary quirks of just about everyone. Some people don’t drink alcohol; some don’t eat cheese; one can’t eat fat (no gallbladder – I know, too much information); some are diabetic. But the biggest challenge is the group of vegetarians. I am a die-hard carnivore, and I like to plan a meal around the meat, with the vegetable dishes as a complement to it. With no meat, I flounder around trying to think up enough dishes so that everyone will be full and satisfied.
This year it turned out that all the vegetarians came on Thursday, and the carnivores came over on Friday, so it worked out great. Friday I roasted a turkey, with dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberries, and all the beautiful vegetable dishes from Thursday. Everyone got stuffed to groaning both days, and I was so happy to have put them into that state.
So my Thanksgiving 2009 menu was:
Cheesy Onion Bread
Carrot Salad with Moroccan Spices
Brussels Sprouts with Hazelnut Butter
Leeks Au Gratin Parmigiano
Corn Spoon Bread
Green Bean Casserole with Fried Onions
I didn’t serve the Carrot Salad in those little shot glasses. It was in a big bowl. But the little glasses are much more fun for the photograph. And, yes, that was their real color.
Cooked Carrot Salad with Moroccan Spices
1 pound carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise, sliced into ¼-inch thick half circles
½ cup water
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 ½ teaspoons raz el hanout or Moroccan spice blend (see below)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste
½ cup red onion, finely slivered
¼ cup Kalamata olives, pitted, slivered
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, minced
1. Combine the carrots, water and garlic in a medium saucepan and heat to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat until carrots are crisp tender, about 6 minutes.
2. Uncover carrots and simmer over medium-low heat to evaporate any excess water. Transfer to a serving bowl and cool slightly.
3. Sprinkle the raz el hanout into a small skillet and heat until the spice mixture releases its aroma, about 30 seconds. Remove from the heat.
4. Whisk the olive oil, lemon juice and salt into the spices until blended.
5. Add dressing, red onion, olives and cilantro to the carrots and toss to combine. Let stand at room temperature up to 2 hours, or until ready to eat.
Moroccan Spice Blend
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon allspice
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon crushed saffron threads
¼ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
Combine all spices in a small bowl and use 1 ½ teaspoon of mixture in recipe above.Print Recipe