Home > Late Fall > A Localvore Thanksgiving II - Creative Sides
A Localvore Thanksgiving II - Creative Sides
Right Food for the Season - Late Fall
Written by R. Patrick Kent and Lara Zelman   

Here in New England, fall vegetables can get repetitive. There are only so many times you can eat root vegetables and hearty greens. We wanted to come up with a few side dishes that were never served on our Thanksgiving tables growing up. Some of these ideas may seem like odd combinations - but don't be afraid to try one out. Surprise your family with something unexpected, like the earthiness of the starches with the kick of the kale pesto in this first recipe. Don't pass by those oddly shaped squash. These side dishes celebrate the bounty of New England!



Roasted Turnips, Rutabagas and Potatoes with Kale-Walnut Pesto

Serves 4-6 side dish portions


3 - 5 medium red potatoes (1.5 - 2 lbs)

2 medium macomber turnips

1 medium rutabaga

Olive oil

Kosher salt


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel all the vegetables and dice into half inch cubes. Place diced vegetables in a single layer on a foil lined baking sheet (you many need two). Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Roast for 30-40 minutes, turning halfway through. Remove from oven and mix with the pesto.

Kale-Walnut Pesto


1 bunch curly green kale, rinsed and dried

1 cup walnuts, toasted

3 cloves garlic

2 tablespoons grated parmegiano reggiano

1 cup extra virgin olive oil


Place the toasted walnuts in a food processor and pulse until chopped into small pieces. Cut the center veins out of the kale leaves and discard veins. Place remaining kale and the garlic cloves in the food processor with the walnuts. Process until the mixture is well chopped and combined, about a minute. Continue to run the processor and stream in the olive oil until you reach your desired consistency. It will be somewhat chunky. Stir in the grated cheese.Place half the pesto in the bottom of a large serving dish. Add the roasted vegetables to the dish and toss. Add more pesto until your desired amount. Serve warm.


Recipe #2: Spaghetti Squash "Mac n'Cheese" with Sage & Bacon 


There are so many possibilities for squash sides at the holidays that it seems unfortunate to just "mash it with butter" - think creatively! Try a buttercup squash instead of butternut, roasted and mashed, with nutmeg and cinammon. The natural sweetness will knock you out. Or, even try this recipe for Spaghetti Squash Mac n'Cheese - a taste of Southern comfort food using a seasonal squash varietal.


1 Spaghetti squash

3 oz gruyere cheese, shredded

2 - 3 strips of bacon (optional)

1 tablespoon fresh (chopped) or 1/2 tbsp dried sage

1 cup milk

4 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

2 - 3 tablespoons bread crumbs

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Salt & Pepper

Olive oil cooking spray


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the very top off the squash (removing the stem.) Cut the squash in 1/2 lengthwise. Scoops out the seeds and discard. Brush with olive oil. Spray a cookie sheet or large baking pan with cooking spray. Place the halves of the squash on the sheet, inside face down. Cook for 20 - 25 minutes. Turn them over and cook for another 15 - 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Once cool enough to handle, scrape the inside of the squash with a fork to shred it into pasta-like strands. Put the strands in a small casserole dish and set aside. Cook bacon on a plate for 2 - 3 min in microwave until crisp. Discard the fat. Over medium heat, melt the butter in a saucepan. Add sage and cook for 1 minute. Add flour and whisk into a paste. Add milk slowly and continue whisking until the sauce thickens into a milkshake consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste and whisk in nutmeg. Add shredded gruyere and crumbled bacon into the sauce and stir until thoroughly mixed. Pour the sauce over the spaghetti squash strands. Mix breadcrumbs and parmesan in a small bowl and distribute evenly over the casserole. Bake at 400 for 15 minutes and then under the broiler for another 2 - 3 min to brown the top. Double the recipe and use a larger casserole dish for more servings.


Recipe #3: Cranberry Apple Fritters 


The local fresh cranberries at Verrill Farm were too tempting to pass up, so we purchased a quart. Cranberry sauce is on almost everyone’s Thanksgiving Table. There are many variations – from the can shaped log to freshly homemade. Each holiday cook is faced with the dilemma of what to serve. When we started thinking about cranberry and apple our minds drifted to a traditional fall item that doesn’t normally make the cut for Thanksgiving dinner, apple cider doughnuts! We challenged ourselves to think of a way to incorporate the flavors of cranberry and apple in a way that fit into the Thanksgiving meal. We settled on fritters – bite sized and good for an appetizer, side, or dessert. The tart New England cranberries and fresh apple paired with a light, airy batter came together for a delightful treat!


Dry Ingredients


1.5 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons sugar

Wet Ingredients

½ cup milk

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons melted butter


16 ounces fresh cranberries, rinsed and dried

½ tablespoon sugar

1 large apple, peeled and cored

Lemon juice

Enough canola oil to cover the fritters for frying


Place rinsed and dried cranberries and 1 teaspoon of sugar in a food processor. Pulse until chopped into small pieces. Shred/grate the apple into ¼ inch strips into a bowl. Toss with lemon juice to prevent discoloration. Set aside while mixing the other ingredients.Mix dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, mix wet ingredients together. Add the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix until just moistened. Add cranberries. Squeeze excess moisture out of the apples before adding into the batter. Mix just until the fruit is incorporated evenly. In a large pot heat oil to 350 degrees (use a fryer/candy thermometer to check the temperature). When the oil has reached 350 degrees, drop in batter by the rounded teaspoonful. Add 3-4 fritters per batch. Cook for 2 minutes, then flip using tongs and cook for 2 minutes more. Remove from the oil and place on a paper towel lined cooking rack. Check the first fritter to ensure that the center has cooked through and the outside is golden brown. Lower the temperature if the center is raw, and leave the fritters in the oil for an extra minute or 2. Continue until all the batter is used. Serve warm. Serving suggestions: Dust with powdered sugar, drizzle with local honey or maple syrup, or just enjoy!


Recipe #4: Cranberry Apple Chutney


If fritter frying is too much to do on Thanksgiving Day, fresh cranberries and apple make a delicious and tangy chutney as well. It is a perfect accompaniment for turkey and would make a nice alternative to traditional cranberry sauce. Since it needs to be prepared ahead (ideally 1 - 2 weeks prior) there's nothing left to do but serve it on Thanksgiving. (Note: If someone in the family has a nut allergy, chopped celery could be substituted to add a nice crunch.)


1 cup light brown sugar

½ cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup honey

½ cup water

3 cups fresh cranberries

2 firm apples (e.g., Granny Smith), peeled and chopped into small bite sized pieces (2 cups)

1 medium red onion, chopped

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon lemon zest

½ cup golden raisins

¼ cup cider vinegar

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

3 tablespoons crystallized ginger, finely chopped

½ cup walnuts, toasted and chopped


Toss chopped apples in lemon juice and set aside. Combine brown sugar, granulated sugar, and water in heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil gently 3 minutes. Add cranberries, apples, red onion, lemon zest, raisins, honey, vinegar, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves.Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium. Simmer, uncovered, 20 to 25 minutes or until mixture is very thick, stirring occasionally. Cool; stir in crystallized ginger and walnuts. Cover and refrigerate before serving - make a week or two ahead to let the flavors really meld.


1 Comment

  1. Love all these New England-pride recipes. Just perfect for Thanksgiving celebrations all over the country - a day where all look to New England for the our one day of unified food tradition. Thanks for posting so many original ideas.

Add Comment


    What's In Season? 


    (click here for a printable chart)