Fresh Tips for the Holidays

Fresh Tips for the Holidays

by: Betsy Peirce, Producer Manager

Last holiday season I wrote a column in The Scoop about new twists on old holiday favorites. In it I incorporated some new ingredients and ideas to spice it up a bit on the holiday table. It was met with lots of enthusiasm and that leads me to believe that you’d naturally want more ideas!

Of course, I will first and foremost advocate for lots of local vittles on your table. There is no coincidence that the produce items that are in season in November and December have made their way into our holiday traditions. Here in the Midwest it seems we are heavy on squash, cranberries and potatoes. We will also be rich in Brussels sprouts and carrots and all the tasty root vegetables. They ripen this time of year and you can readily find them either here at the Co-op, in your garden, or at the Farmers Market.

Here are my lists of culinary ideas for your holiday table.  Enjoy.

• Cut sweet crisp Rock Spring Farm local carrots into ½” chunks and coarsely chop garlic into 1/8” chunks.  Drizzle generously with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Slow-roast in a 325 degree oven for 1 ½ hours in a glass baking dish.   The garlic mellows out and the roasting brings out the sugars in the carrots. Stir or toss frequently while roasting.

• Sauté Patchwork Greens Brussels Sprouts (cut in ½) in bacon grease, or olive oil, until tender.  In the last 5 minutes of cooking, add a splash of apple cider vinegar and some sugar and salt and pepper to taste.  Sprinkle liberally with chopped crispy-fried bacon (Grass Run Farm makes the best bacon around).

• Slice or dice multi-color potatoes (red, blue, purple, Yukon Gold and Colorado Rose, or French fingerling).  Toss with olive oil, garlic and fresh rosemary or thyme and plenty of salt and pepper.  Bake at 450 degrees until desired crispness – roughly 1/2 hour or more.  Stir occasionally during baking.

• Bake your favorite squash by slicing it down the middle and roasting both halves on a cookie sheet in a 350 degree oven.   Scoop out the seeds for composting, and scoop out the cooked squash from the peel. Set aside. Caramelize 2 chopped onions (sauté in olive oil on low heat for ½ hour) and add some chopped fresh sage, thyme, salt and pepper. Mix together. Add lemon juice to taste. Bake in oven in a buttered casserole dish for ½ hour. Crumble feta or Chevre (fresh soft goat cheese) and chopped pecans or walnuts on the top for the last 10 minutes of baking, or simply leave plain.

• When making your stuffing, use cornbread instead of wheat bread.  As an added bonus, cornbread may be made gluten-free.

• To enliven and beautify any of your dishes this holiday season, not to mention make them burst with extra nutritional goodness, try sprinkling some of River Root Farm’s micro greens atop just about any dish – hot or cold.