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Non-traditional flavors boost one-note Thanksgiving squash, kale and mashed potatoes
Nov 13

Christopher Kimball's Milk Street

It's tricky to mess with tradition on Thanksgiving, but with a few tweaks, some typically one-note side dishes can become boldly flavored, exciting dishes.

Instead of pureeing butternut squash and loading it up with butter, we cut it into chunks and roast it, seasoning it with fresh ginger and Chinese five-spice to complement its natural sweetness.

To enliven sautéed greens, we skip the spinach and turn to kale instead. Charring the hardy green gives it a bittersweet flavor and a nutty edge, reminiscent of oven-roasted kale chips. It then gets a bright squeeze of lime and a bit of heat from sliced chilies.

And for a unique take on mashed potatoes, we got inspiration from stoemp (pronounced STOOMP), a hearty Belgian dish that mixes the spuds with finely cut winter vegetables. Our version includes leeks, carrots and cabbage, with a good dose of bay and garlic for fragrance and flavor.

Start to finish: 40 minutes

Servings: 8

You will need two large, heavy rimmed baking sheets for this recipe because crowding one pan will inhibit flavorful browning that is the key to this dish's success. The squash can be peeled, seeded, cut into chunks and refrigerated in zip-close bags for up to two days before cooking. Many grocery stores sell butternut squash that has already been peeled, seeded and cut into chunks. We found that this variety does not brown as well as squash we prepped ourselves, though it tasted equally good. If you purchase precleaned squash, you will still need about 4 pounds.

4 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks

3 tablespoons salted butter, melted

2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger

11/2 teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh chives

2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger (optional)

Heat the oven to 500DEGF with racks in the upper and lower-middle positions. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with foil.

In a large bowl, toss the squash with the butter, ginger, five-spice powder, 11/2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Divide evenly between the prepared baking sheets and distribute in even layers. Roast, switching and rotating the pans halfway through, until well browned, 25 to 35 minutes.

Taste and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a platter and sprinkle with the chives and crystallized ginger (if using). Serve warm or at room temperature.


Start to finish: 35 minutes

Servings: 4

The volume of raw kale here may seem overwhelming, but it will cook down. Use the largest bowl you have to toss the leaves with oil, and the largest Dutch oven you own to cook the greens. Beware the vapors when you add the chili and garlic to the hot pot. And make sure not to use olive oil to char the kale, as it has a lower smoke point than neutral oil. Light wisps of smoke are an indication that the oil and pot are ready.

2 large bunches lacinato kale (about 11/2 pounds total), stemmed, leaves torn into 2- to 3-inch pieces

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon grapeseed or other neutral oil

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

5 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 Fresno OR jalapeño chili, stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced

4 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal, white and green parts reserved separately

1 teaspoon grated lime zest, plus 1 tablespoon lime juice

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

In a large bowl, toss the kale with 1 tablespoon of neutral oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt, rubbing with your hands to coat each leaf.

By The Associated Press, Copyright 2023

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