Thanksgiving Sides to Savor

Can I tell you a little secret? 

I don’t really like traditional Thanksgiving sides. 

Actually, it’s not that I don’t like them, it’s just that I don’t love them.  And I want to love them. I feel like I’m supposed to swoon over mashed potatoes, but I find most versions kind of boring.  And stuffing? Um, it’s mushy bread. 

But I do love Thanksgiving. I love curling up on the couch with a big mug of coffee to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  I love spending the afternoon in the kitchen with my family.  I love lingering around the table. And Thanksgiving isn’t really about the turkey anyway, it’s about family and friends.  I know I’ve harped a lot lately on the concept of good living, but I promise this is the last time.

There’s a moment, after the pumpkin pie, when the whole family is full and happy and laughing. To me, that moment is truly the height of good living. As I mentioned before, the folks at Fage (makers of yummy Greek yogurt)  have asked a few of us food bloggers to weigh in on what makes for good living.  And while I’d gladly trade lumpy mashed potatoes and chilly New England weather for crispy spanakopita and Mediterranean sunshine, we can live the good life right here in Connecticut too. Whether corn bread stuffing makes you drool or not, be sure to savor all of the good moments this week!

And should you like some inspiration for deviating from the usual green bean casserole and sweet potato casserole, one of the following recipes might make a fun addition to your Thanksgiving line up.

noodle kugel

New England Noodle Kugel


sweet potato

Sweet Potato and Gorgonzola Gnocchi


barley side dish

Roasted Onion Barley Risotto


chestnut apple tart

Chestnut, Gorgonzola and Apple Tart


As part of the Foodbuzz Featured Publisher program, I have been entered for the chance to win a trip to Greece courtesy of FAGE. You too can enter to win one of three trips to Greece by entering the FAGE Plain Extraordinary Greek Getaway here:

Published in: on November 21, 2011 at 7:55 pm  Comments (6)  
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Roasted Onion Barley Risotto

sweet onion barley risotto

Was your New Year’s resolution to eat healthier? How long did it last? A few days? A week?  I usually start out the year exercising daily and eating my five-a-day quota.  But it doesn’t last long, and by the middle of January it all falls apart. My cravings for the warmth of winter favorites, from gooey macaroni and cheese and rich beef stew to creamy hot chocolate and flaky cinnamon buns, always seem to win out. 

When it’s cold and grey and blustery, all I want to eat are hearty, indulgent favorites.  And risotto is high on that list. A steaming plate of creamy risotto is just the thing to warm the belly on a chilly night.  But it is generally not the thing to flatten that belly. 

Although my resolution this year is to simply enjoy, to eat for pleasure, and to savor every bite, nutrition still counts. For the moment I’m content to hide these extra few pounds under bulky sweaters and puffy jackets, but I know that I’ll have to pull out that bathing suit soon enough. So while I may not make it to the gym every day, I’m trying for some balance.

A little more fruit and a little less ice cream.  A handful of carrots in place of those potato chips.  And more whole grains across the board. 

Barley risotto has all the wonderfully creamy steaminess of traditional risotto (which is typically made with Arborio rice), with the added benefits of toothsome texture and plenty of fiber. The sweet onions and salty cheese build plenty of flavor in this tasty risotto.  Although lovely as is, this risotto is also fantastic topped with a few grilled shrimp for a special meal.

risotto with onions, Italian health food

Roasted Onion Barley Risotto

Serves 4 as a side dish or starter

1 medium yellow onion, sliced

4 teaspoons olive oil, divided

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 cup pearled barley, rinsed

½ cup dry white wine

3 cups vegetable stock

3 tbsp shredded parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Toss the sliced onion with half the oil and roast on a baking sheet until soft and slightly browned at the edges, about 10-15 minutes. Toss the hot roasted onion with the vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, sauté the garlic in the remaining oil over medium heat until fragrant.  Add the tomato paste to the garlic.  Add the barley and cook, stirring, about 3 minutes.  Stir in the wine and simmer until evaporated.  Add half a cup of the stock, and cook, stirring often, until the liquid is mostly gone.  Add the remaining stock by the half cup, stirring often, until the barley is tender and only a small amount of liquid remains. Stir in the cheese and salt and pepper to taste.  Fold in the onions.  Serve hot with extra cheese, if desired.

Published in: on January 18, 2011 at 11:58 am  Comments (15)  
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