Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Thanksgiving Sides: The Not-Dreaded Green Vegetable

It's a tough job for a green vegetable to compete for a place on the plate at Thanksgiving. Mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing and the whole carb overload may not leave room for even the smallest Brussels sprout. Plus, its hard enough to get folks to eat these without all the other options.

Here's a new recipe and a few green vegetable options (scroll down)  that may convince even the most hard core starch-o-phile to try one bite. Some of them are rich, and some of them just have a whole lot of flavor.

This year, we're trying something completely different with our green vegetables. Smoked! This recipe works with both Brussel Sprouts or baby cabbages (or full size cabbage cut into wedges). If you've ever held a head of cabbage from your CSA and wondered, now what would I do with THAT besides slaw, slaw, and more slaw ... well, this one's for you. You'll need a smoker pan for this, shop around because I think you can find these cheaper.

(scroll below the recipe for links to four other great options!)

Applewood and Rosemary Smoked Cabbage with Roasted Apples
1 head of cabbage or eight small heads of cabbage, or two lbs. Brussels sprouts cleaned and halved
1 bunch green onions, or 4 shallots quartered
1 large sprig rosemary
Handful of sage leaves
Applewood chips

8 apples, cored and sliced
1/4 cup honey
1 Tbs. organic canola
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground clove

3 Tbs. coarse grain mustard
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
black pepper to taste
Smoked sea salt, or sea salt

Place the wood chips, rosemary and sage in the bottom of the smoker pan (see manufacturer instructions). Place the drip pan over that and the rack on top. On the rack, position the cabbage and onions or shallots. You may have to halve the cabbages to get the lid to close. That's okay.

Close the lid, but not all the way, leaving a half an inch. Start the gas grill (or, have spouse do this in my case. The grill is his turf.) Once you see wisps of smoke coming from the pan, then you can close the lid all the way. Turn the gas down to low. The cabbage and onion can smoke for up to an hour and a half.

In the last half an hour of smoking, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and place the sliced apples on a baking sheet. Toss with canola oil, nutmeg and cloves, and spread to a single layer. Roast the apples for about 10 minutes. Turn once, roast for another 5-10 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. Remove from oven and keep warm. Toss with the honey.

Whisk the dressing together, adding the pepper. Save the coarse sea salt for garnish. Assemble by placing the apples on the platter. Top with the cabbage and onions. Drizzle the dressing over top. Sprinkle with the sea salt. The smoked kind is nice if you can find it.

You can also make this with Brussels sprouts. Just reduce the smoking time to about 30 minutes since they are so much smaller.

If you don't want to use the mustard sauce, try a cider reduction which is more like a glaze. 1 cup cider, 2 Tbs. honey, 2 Tbs. white balsamic vinegar. Simmer on low until reduced to a thick syrup. Drizzle over top of veggies before serving.

Think hard, have you ever had this dish without the canned soup in the mix? If not, then you need to try the real thing. It's easier than you would think.

I've had people who say they hate cauliflower love this dish. Really.

Brussels sprouts are back, and bacon just goes with everything. This is the easy, easy version too.

Higher maintenance, but delicious. With the chestnuts, this one is a good option for Christmas, too.

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