Kachemak Cuisine: Spice up Thanksgiving with butternut squash salad

Thanksgiving time is here and I enjoy making this once-a-year meal above all others, as it’s the only holiday totally devoted to food. From year to year, the guests at our table may have changed, but the food served hasn’t much at all. I could make this meal in my sleep and shop for ingredients without a grocery list. Timing and oven space have been worked out for a very long time now and somehow, no matter many join us at the table, I don’t ever need to make different quantities of anything and there is always plenty.

For our family, this meal is about the traditional dishes I’ve made since I was first married and have fine tuned over the years.

Many of you are invited to dinner and will contribute something to the meal. I like to suggest bringing something new and different unless the host requests a special dish from your kitchen. How about a fresh and colorful salad? This recipe couldn’t be easier, has crunch and flavors of autumn’s seasonal produce. If you feel like splurging a bit, toss in a few sugar snap peas cut in half, maybe a few pomegranate seeds.

Roasted Butternut Squash Tossed Green Salad

Ingredients

• 4 cups cubed peeled butternut squash (about 1 pound)

• 1 onion, chopped

• 1 tablespoon honey

• 1/2 teaspoon salt

• 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

• 1/4 teaspoon pepper

• 1 package (6 ounces) fresh baby spinach

• 2 cups coarsely chopped iceberg lettuce

• 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese

• 6 tablespoons poppy seed salad dressing, divided

• 1 small can mandarin oranges, or 2-3 peeled fresh Satsuma mandarin sections.

• 1/2 cup dried cranberries

• Sugar snap peas

• Pomegranate seeds

• 1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted

• 4 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400°. In a large bowl, toss squash and onion with honey, salt, garlic powder and pepper. Transfer to a 15x10x1-in. baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake 20-25 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring once. Cool slightly.

2. In another bowl, combine spinach, lettuce, blue cheese and squash mixture. Just before serving, drizzle with 4 tablespoons dressing and toss to coat. Divide salad among eight plates; top with mandarin oranges, cranberries, peas, almonds and bacon. Drizzle with remaining dressing.

Cheddar Beer Bread Rolls

These cheesy rolls pack a lot of flavor, and thanks to the beer, they’re also especially light and fluffy. They’re perfect slathered with butter.

Ingredients

6 cups/815 grams bread flour, plus more for work surface

1 tablespoon instant yeast

2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt

4 tablespoons/55 grams unsalted butter (2 tablespoons softened, 2 tablespoons melted), plus more for the bowl and pan

¼ cup/60 milliliters honey

2 cups/480 milliliters beer, such as pale ale

1 ¾ cup/200 grams shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, preferably white

Directions

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine bread flour, yeast, salt, 2 tablespoons softened butter, honey and room temperature beer.

Mix on low speed for 4 minutes. The dough should come together around the dough hook. Increase speed to medium and continue to mix for 2 minutes more, occasionally stopping to scrape the dough from the hook.

Add 1 cup/115 grams of the Cheddar cheese and mix until incorporated, 30 seconds to 1 minute.

2. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until nearly double in size, about 1 hour.

3. Lightly grease a 9-by-13-inch pan.

Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 12-24 even pieces. Gently round each piece of dough into a ball, and place into the prepared pan. (The rolls may not touch now, but they will fill in the gaps when they rise and bake.)

4. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and let the rolls rise for 35 to 45 minutes, until they look visibly puffy. Toward the end of rise time, heat the oven to 400 degrees. Brush the rolls with 2 tablespoons melted butter, and top each roll with 1 tablespoon of the remaining white Cheddar, being careful to keep the cheese away from the edges of the pan.

5. Bake the rolls until golden brown, and the cheese on top is melted and browned (the rolls should have an internal temperature of 190 degrees), 17 to 22 minutes. Let cool at least 10 minutes before serving.

Holiday feasts are the time to highlight this beautiful tart red berry that only comes around once a year. I enjoying cooking with and including cranberries in lots of recipes come November as I usually come back from Wisconsin with fresh cranberries from a local cranberry farm close to where my uncle lives.

Triple Cranberry Sauce

Ingredients

1 package (12 oz.) fresh or frozen cranberries

1 cup thawed cranberry juice concentrate

½ cup dried cranberries

3 tablespoons orange juice

3 tablespoons orange marmalade

2 teaspoons grated orange zest

¼ teaspoon ground allspice

Directions

1. In a small saucepan, combine the cranberries, cranberry juice concentrate, dried cranberries and sugar. Cook over medium heat until the berries pop, about 15 minutes.

2. Remove from heat; stir in the orange juice, marmalade, orange zest and allspice.

Transfer to a small bowl; refrigerate until chilled.

I am thankful for many things, but most thankful for my family and friends and the great life we live here in Homer. Being the gramma to my two grandchildren brings me the most joy and thanks I’ve ever felt.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving with whoever you have at the table. I would love to hear about any dishes you tasted that were delicious or very different.

Reach Teri Robl at easthood.queen@gmail.com.

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