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Easy Acorn Squash and Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Still looking for Thanksgiving side dish ideas? Here’s one that won’t take more than five minutes to prepare and tastes great. No peeling involved – you can eat the skin on acorn squash.

The recipe is so embarrassingly simple, it’s hardly a recipe. Just wash the squash, cut in half lengthwise, remove the seeds and cut into slices about 1/2 inch think. Smear with a little melted butter on both sides, then sprinkle each side with salt and pepper, and a mixture of equal parts bread crumbs and parmesan cheese. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes or until you can easily pierce the flesh with a fork.Here are a few more ideas if you still are undecided about side dishes for your Thanksgiving table:

Fennel Gratinée or Roasted Fennel 

Insalata di Rinforza

Stuffed onions

Squash and Couscous casserole

And as a relief for the digestive system: Citrus salad 

If you’re looking for a primer on how to brine and cook a turkey, click here to see how I do it.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 
Acorn Squash with Parmesan Coating
Wash the squash, cut in half lengthwise, then remove the seeds and cut into slices about 1/2 inch thick. Smear with a little melted butter on both sides, then sprinkle each side with salt and pepper, and a mixture of equal parts bread crumbs and parmesan cheese. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes or until you can easily pierce the flesh with a fork.

Baked Fennel Two Ways

  If you wait long enough, everything comes into fashion — even culinarily speaking. I grew up eating things that most Americans had never tried, much less heard of, and today they’re as common on restaurant menus and home kitchens as hamburgers and French fries. Think of squid, polenta, broccoli rape and fennel, to name a few. Fennel was always on our holiday table, and even now, I can picture that oval stainless steel serving dish, brimming with raw fennel, carrots, celery sticks and marinated mushrooms.

 I don’t ever remember eating it cooked however, until I was an adult. But baked or roasted fennel is now my favorite way to eat the vegetable. In a nod to readers who asked for more vegetable recipes, here are two that are quick and delicious. The first is a fennel gratin and the second is roasted fennel.

For the fennel gratin, I cook the fennel in simmering water for 10 or 15 minutes on the range, in an ovenproof casserole. When you’re trimming it, keep the bottom part of the bulb intact so it doesn’t fall apart. Cook until tender and carefully drain the water.

 Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the top and place in a very hot oven until browned
Careful not to keep it in too long or it could easily burn the bread crumbs. Garnish with fennel fronds.
 For the roasted fennel, I was inspired by my fellow blogger Stacey Snacks. She makes it almost the same way, but adds olives. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any in the house when I made this, but I would definitely add them next time. I only had a half a lemon, so I also threw in some slices of clementine and squeezed a little juice from the citrus fruit on the fennel before sloshing with olive oil and herbed salt. The herbed salt was homemade, and if you don’t have any, I recommend you use a little kosher salt with some minced rosemary, easily available year round at the supermarket.


As Stacey says, it’s addictive.

 

Fennel Gratin

printable recipes here

1 large fennel bulb
1/4 cup panko or other bread crumbs
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
2 T. parsley, minced
rind of 1/2 lemon
2 T. lemon juice
3 T. melted butter

Cut the fennel into thick slices. Don’t trim off the core. It will soften as it cooks. Place the fennel in a casserole that can be used on a range top and in an oven. Cover the fennel with water and bring to a boil. Place a lid or aluminum foil on top of the casserole and let the fennel simmer lightly until cooked through. It should take no more than 10 to 15 minutes. Take off the burner. Carefully drain away the hot water. Arrange the slices in the casserole and drizzle with the lemon juice and 1 T. of the melted butter.
Mix the panko, parmesan cheese, parsley, lemon rind with the remainder of the melted butter.
Place in a 425 degree oven, uncovered and bake for about 10 to 15 minutes, until the topping is golden. Garnish with some of the fennel fronds before serving.

Roasted Fennel

1 large fennel bulb
1 lemon or 1 lemon and 1 clementine
juice from the ends of the lemon and clementine
olive oil
homemade seasoned salt made with garden herbs or kosher salt and minced fresh rosemary
pepper
olives, optional

Slice the fennel into thick slices (about 1/4 inch thick). Place on a baking sheet that’s been oiled with olive oil. Drizzle more olive oil on the fennel, and squeeze the juice from the citrus fruit ends over the fennel. Then sprinkle with the seasoned salt. Place slices of lemon and oranges in between the fennel slices and if desired, olives.
Bake at 425 degrees for 1/2 hour then flip over and bake another 15 minutes. Use your judgment on the time and keep an eye on it because it could easily burn, depending on the size of the slices.